Animal Diaries Archive
25 January 2008
Hi, mammals Josie here. When I first started in the Mammals department back in May, I fell in love with our six beautiful echidnas! Since the, my interest in their close cousin the platypus, has grown. These creatures are very shy and very sensitive.They are also crepuscular animals, which mean they forage mainly at dusk and dawn, making it very hard to spot them.
Platypus are very interesting and have heaps of cool features. First of all they are mammals that lay eggs! They have cheek pouches used to store food until they swim to the surface to eat, and they store fat in their tails to help them survive winter months. Even more interesting; these little creatures are venomous!
For something so cute you wouldn’t think they could pack a punch. Though, with predators such as snakes, water rats, goannas, hawks, owls and eagles, they need some protection. This protection comes in the form of a venomous spur. Their venom can cause death to small animals but is not fatal for humans, although proves to be extremely painful. Both male and female are born with the spur but the female’s drop off in their first year. Platypus are carnivores and eat lots of worms, insect larva and yabbies (freshwater crayfish). Their coolest feature is their bill. Like the other Monotremes, platypus have an electroreceptor, helping them sense the vibrations of their prey.
So as you can see these creatures are very complex and interesting. Caring for the platypus is very tricky. They are sensitive to their surroundings and if disturbed or if changes occur they can be put under a lot of stress. As you can imagine, their is a lot of training involved to understand the housing pumps, husbandry needs and the highly specialised needs for the basic care of platypus.
Monotremes RULE here at Australia zoo!