Fun Duck-billed Platypus Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 31, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Diya Patel
Duck-billed platypus facts are interesting for kids

Have you been fascinated with Perry the Platypus? If yes, then we have brought to you an extensive opportunity to learn about this species.

This platypus is known for having a duck-like bill and a flat tail. They love water, and their flat tail and webbed feet allow them to navigate around the water and its depth.

This unique-looking animal may look naive, but the ankle spurs of the male platypus have venom that can easily kill small mammals. However, this species mainly feeds on aquatic animals like worms and prawns.

The unique boxy look of the platypus does help them to stand out among other mammals, along with their ability to lay eggs. This species is extant to Australia and Tasmania, and they have a long history of evolution.

Want to learn more about the platypus? Keep reading to enlighten yourself with some awesome duck- billed platypus facts.

Also, check out the articles on ringed seal and Asiatic black bear to know more about diverse animals. 

Duck-Billed Platypus Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a duck-billed platypus?

The duck-billed platypus is a semi-aquatic mammal that is indigenous to the wetter regions of Australia and Tasmania. They are one of three mammals extant in the group of monotremes (mammals that lay eggs.)

What class of animal does a duck-billed platypus belong to?

The platypus belongs to the class Mammalia and they are one of the only living mammals that reproduce by laying eggs.

How many duck-billed platypuses are there in the world?

The exact number of platypuses is yet to be known, however, they are currently listed as Near Threatened in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Where does a duck-billed platypus live?

The duck-billed platypus is endemic to Australia and Tasmania. The platypus is extensively found in eastern Australia.

What is a duck-billed platypus's habitat?

The duck-billed platypus is semi-aquatic, so they prefer a wetter habitat. They prefer to live around rivers, lagoons, and streams in eastern Australia and Tasmania.

These animals live in areas with a steep bank containing vegetation and plant roots, reeds, and logs. They live in or near streams that have a depth of 16 ft (5 m). They have been found at elevations of up to 3281 ft (1000 m) above sea level.

Who do duck-billed platypuses live with?

Duck-billed platypuses are usually solitary except during the mating season. This species spends up to 12 hours of their day looking for food, mainly in the rivers and streams. Platypuses are known for living in a ground burrow.

How long does a duck-billed platypus live?

The average lifespan of a platypus is around 12 years in the wild. Some platypuses have managed to live to 17 years of age in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

Platypuses are one of the only egg-laying mammals present in this world. The breeding season of platypuses is usually in the months of June to October.

However, it can change according to their location. Though the male platypuses are mainly known for initiating the mating process, they can only move forward with it if the female platypus is willing to do so. The male platypus and the female platypus also swim around each other and touch their bodies during their mating process.

Platypuses lay their eggs inside ground burrows, and this is done by the females. They lay two or three eggs in a litter, and they incubate the duck-billed platypus eggs by pressing them towards their belly with the help of their tail.

It takes about 27 days from mating for the females to lay eggs, and the incubation period lasts for about 10 days. The caring of the babies is totally dependent on the female platypuses.

Their babies also feed on the platypus' milk, and they can suckle for up to four months. Rather than having teats, the milk oozes through skin pores.

It takes four to five months for the babies to become independent. The juveniles are born with teeth, but they soon fall out.

What is their conservation status?

The duck-billed platypus is currently listed as Near Threatened in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Duck-Billed Platypus Fun Facts

What do duck-billed platypuses look like?

One of the most striking things about a duck-billed platypus has to be their look. This Australian species has an ancient look to them.

They have duck-like webbed feet and a long duck-like bill which gives them their name. These animals have a boxy body, and their body is covered by an even coat of fur that can be medium brown or dark brown.

As the platypus is fond of swimming, the fur on their body helps them to stay warm. When they are swimming underwater, they can shut their eyes and ears to protect themselves from water.

These animals are also great at digging a burrow, which is facilitated by their duck-like feet. Another interesting thing about their body fur is that it is waterproof, giving them extreme protection against water.

The flat tail of the platypus helps them to navigate around water, and it also works as a storage space for excess fat. The lower jaw of the platypus is made from soft skin.

The nostrils are present on the dorsal side of their bill. They also have spurs on their feet, and the males can produce venom in their spurs.

A platypus does have teeth when they are young, but they lose them as soon as the young emerge from their burrow. The adults have keratinized pads inside their bill which helps them to chew their prey.

How cute are they?

Well, with the popularity of Perry the Platypus, this species has been in the limelight. Though we wouldn't technically call them cute, these animals are quite enigmatic for being one of the only mammals that lay eggs. Also, their flat tail and duck-like bill give them a unique look that is seldom seen in any other animal.

How do they communicate?

A platypus does usually make sounds, but not much is known about their other communication techniques either. However, platypuses do have the ability of electroreception which helps them to detect their prey underwater.

They detect electric fields near their prey to get hold of them. The receptors to detect the electric fields are present on their bill. Platypuses have a complex navigational system that allows them to detect prey underwater and during swimming as their eyes do not work while they are in the water.

How big is a duck-billed platypus?

The average length of a platypus is about 15-23.6 in (38-60 cm). Females tend to be a little smaller than males. They are similar in size or slightly smaller than the western long-beaked echidna that grows to an average size of 17-30 in (45-78 cm).

How fast can a duck-billed platypus move?

The platypus is said to have a fast speed of 1 mps (0.001 kps) when they are traversing or swimming in water. However, they have a more steady and slow gait of about 0.4 mps (0.0004 kps) when they are looking for prey. Even though these species have steady feet, they are unable to walk very fast on land.

How much does a duck-billed platypus weigh?

The usual weight of a platypus is around 1.8-5.5 lb (0.7-2.4 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the males and females of platypuses.

What would you call a baby duck-billed platypus?

Though there is no official term for a baby duck-billed platypus. They are sometimes known as 'platypups'.

What do they eat?

The duck-billed platypus is a carnivorous animal and its diet includes annelid worms, insect larvae, freshwater yabby (crayfish), and freshwater shrimp. This species can spend up to 12 hours a day looking for food.

Platypuses carry their prey in cheek pouches. They do underwater hunting for their prey and then put it in their cheek pouches. A platypus's dietary consumption can include up to 20% of its body weight in food every day.

Are they dangerous?

Yes, platypuses are dangerous because they are venomous mammals. Both males and females have ankle spurs or stingers present on their hind feet. The venom is present in males rather than females.

The duck-billed platypus venom produced by the nervous system of the platypus is made of defensin-like proteins (DLPs). Even though they are venomous mammals, it isn't lethal to humans, so the platypus cannot kill you.

Humans do go through excruciating pain if they get stung by the feet spur of a platypus. However, it can kill small mammals like dogs. It is said that the presence of venomous spurs on their feet indicates a common feature perhaps present in ancient mammals.

Would they make a good pet?

Even though the exotic pet trade of platypuses has risen because of the show 'Phineas And Ferb', platypuses are wild animals and they are habituated to their native Australian and Tasmanian habitats. So, it isn't fair to keep them at your home where they will be uncomfortable. Also, it is illegal to have platypuses as your pet.

Did you know...

The platypus can remain totally submerged in a water body for up to two minutes.

There was a time when Australian Aboriginals used to hunt platypuses for their meat. Later, the Europeans started to hunt them for their fur and also to study them.

What is the history of the duck-billed platypus?

It is said that the platypus evolved about 19 to 48 million years ago from echidnas, which makes them older than the extinction of dinosaurs. These animals were first thought to belong to the family of moles, but later they were placed with monotremes and placental mammals.

The history of the platypus is important for studying evolution and scientists are quite fascinated with their lack of teeth. The genes of the platypus match with those of a lot of other animals which make them quite unique.

David Collins was the first person to spot a platypus between 1788 and 1801. Also, a platypus is not a cross between a beaver and a duck.

What are the other monotremes?

Monotremes are a group of mammals that are known for laying eggs. Other than the platypus, the others include four different types of echidnas, the short-beaked echidna, the eastern long-beaked echidna, the western long-beaked echidna, and Sir David's long-beaked echidna.

They are also grouped together because of their similarity in terms of their jaws, teeth, and brain. Monotremes mean single hole, which stands for their single cloaca through which they lay eggs and also defecate.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including the grey seal, or the slender loris.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our platypus coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Diya Patel

Bachelor of Science specializing in in Computer Science

Diya Patel picture

Diya PatelBachelor of Science specializing in in Computer Science

A member of Kidadl's fact-checking team, Diya is currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science from Ahmedabad University with an interest in exploring other fields. As part of her degree, she has taken classes in communications and writing to expand her knowledge and skills.

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