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Monotreme amphibious mammal (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) of lakes and streams in eastern Australia and Tasmania. About 23 in. (60 cm) long, the squat-bodied platypus has a ducklike snout, short legs, webbed feet, and a beaverlike tail. Each day it eats nearly its own weight in crustaceans, fishes, frogs, mollusks, tadpoles, and earthworms; lacking teeth, it crushes its food with ridges in the bill. The female lays one to three eggs in a nest in a long twisting passage above the waterline. The young are weaned about four months after hatching. The male's heel bears a spur connected to a poison-secreting gland. Large fishes and perhaps snakes prey on platypuses. Formerly trapped for their dense, soft fur, they are now protected by law.
Variants of PLATYPUS
platypus or duckbill
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on platypus, visit Britannica.com.