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PLATYPUS

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Published on May 5, 2010

A glimpse at the rare and beautiful Australian animal, the Platypus.
Original music is by Mary Win, Go check out her channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/marywinmusic

This unique animal has a duck-like bill, which is soft, flexible and very sensitive, a body covered with waterproof luxurious brown fur, webbed feet, and a broad flattened beaver-like tail.
Its fur is denser than that of polar bears and otters and consists of two layers: an inner layer made up of fine hair that trap air and keep the animal warm, and an outer layer of longer, flat hair. An average body temperature of a healthy platypus is around 32ÂșC and can be maintained when swimming all night in freezing conditions.

The platypus weighs 1 to 2.6 kg and its body length ranges from 40 to 50 cm. They can live up to 16 years but an average lifespan in the wild is under 10 years.

Platypus dive in search for food and surface regularly to breathe. They have the ability to lower their heart rate while diving to reduce the need for oxygen, having blood rich in oxygen-carrying hemoglobin further reduces this need.
The platypus uses its broad paddle-shaped tail for a rapid dive and as a rudder to stir while swimming. The tail stores fat to ensure the animals survival when food is scarce.

The platypus swims using its front legs for propulsion while the hind legs help with steering through the water. The front feet are equipped with large webs of skin and act as powerful paddles. While on land, the webbing is folded under the foot, to make it easier for the platypus to walk. Platypus legs extend horizontally from the body, which helps with swimming and digging, but makes the animal shuffle like a lizard while walking on land.

Platypus hunt in water and feed mostly at night. They swim with their eyes and ears closed and use their extra sensitive bill to search for food in the creek bed. The platypus bill is equipped with an electro-receptor system and detects small flickers of electricity produced by insects, worms, small fishes and frogs. The bill is rubbery and flexible, and although quite tough, it is covered with skin, not hard like that of a duck.
Platypus store their food in the cheek pouches until they come to the surface. The food is then pushed to back of the mouth and crushed between jaws because the animal does not have teeth. The platypus must eat about one third of its body weight each night to survive.

The platypus is an egg-laying mammal. A female platypus lays up to three eggs in late winter or spring and incubates them between her lower belly and curled-up tail for about ten days as she rests in an underground nest lined with soft leaves. A female platypus does not have nipples. Instead, baby platypuses slurp up the milk that is secreted from two patches on their mothers belly.
The young ones stay in the burrow for about six weeks until they are fully covered with fur. Their mother looks after them until they are ready to enter the water at about four months of age. Juvenile platypuses have teeth, but they fall out soon after animals fist enter the water.

Adult male platypus has a pointed spur located above the heel of each hind leg, which can be used to inject venom when the animal is provoked. Platypus venom has been known to kill other animals but is not life threatening to a healthy human being. Platypus spurring is quite painful and first aid should be given as for snakebite.

Platypus spend up to half a day out of water resting in their burrows. They will have a number of burrows within their home range to ensure a safe refuge. Platypus are solitary animals and it is rare that two adults will share a burrow. The only exception is nesting burrows built to house a mother and her young. The burrows are built in riverbanks and the entrance is well camouflaged by plant roots.

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