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What Do Platypuses Eat?

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A duck-billed, egg laying mammal, with the tail of a beaver, the platypus lives mainly in Eastern Australia and Tasmania. They are quite unique, even bizarre, in their appearance and extraordinary characteristics. Hunted for its fur and almost reached extinction, they are now considered vulnerable species and protected all around Australia. Their population is now growing, but with the destruction of their habitats, they may come close to extinction once more.

Drawing of a platypusWhen Europeans first encountered the platypus, they thought it was an elaborate hoax. A platypus is a duck-billed, otter-footed, beaver-tailed mammal that lays eggs and it is venomous.

Their habitat

They inhabit streams and rivers, which is where they spend most of their time. They are mostly shy animals, and prefer fresh water lakes, ponds, river edges, where they can easily dig their burrows. Females dig two types of burrows, one that she uses as a living room and the other one she uses as a nursery for her youngsters.

They eat a lot of food

The platypus spends quite a large amount of time searching for food and it consumes up to 28% of its body weight every day. Being a carnivore, its diet consists of crabs, insects, worms, clams, fish and frogs. Since they are bottom feeders, they like hunting mostly at night in dark, remote places. They create dens and burrows for their protection. They can live up to 12 years and they need to watch out for threats lurking in the shadows, such as snakes, foxes and of course, humans.

How do platypus hunts for its food?

The platypus searches its food in the mud and underwater by shutting his nostrils and eyes. This submersion can last for up to 40 seconds before they must come up to the surface to breathe. Just like camels with their humps, their can store food in large pouches on their cheeks, which is consumed when they return to the surface. It also feeds on shrimps and it hunts by digging into the water for occasional insects and worms. They come to the surface for a few seconds to chew and then they submerge again. A platypus can perform about 60 dives an hour. They are carnivores but with no teeth as their mouth is equipped with grinding pads, so they can swallow food safely. The platypus has a leather bill which resembles that of a duck’s and a tail like a beaver’s.

Dangers that platypuses face

On land, it moves a bit more unusually as the webbing on its feet retracts, which allows it to slightly run. They rarely move on land and this occurs only when they move from one pool to another. Unfortunately, in these moments they risk getting killed by larger predators. Platypus are in danger of being caught up in fishing nets and climate change also represents a risk to them as well as droughts that can serious damage their habitat. We are a major threat to this magnificent creature by polluting the water they live in, thus causing their loss of habitat.