You are here: Life > Mammals > Platypus and echidna

Platypus and echidna

Platypus swimming in a Tasmanian stream The platypus lives in rivers and lakes across eastern Australia and Tasmania. It has webbed feet, a broad flat tail, dense, brown fur and a broad, rubbery, duck-like bill which it uses to probe for food—worms, shrimps, insect larvae and crayfish—on the muddy bed. It lives in a water burrow dug out of the river bank. Instead of giving birth to live young, as almost all other mammals do, the platypus lays eggs. 

Platypus, Australia, 50–60 cm (20–24 in) long
{alt}Platypus swimming{more}Click to play video


Their young are born inside soft-shelled eggs. These hatch after a few days, and the under-developed young are suckled (fed on milk) until they have developed fully. The newly hatched young are blind and hairless, and are fed by the mother's milk. The platypus has no teats; instead, milk is released through pores in the skin.

The platypus must eat about a fifth of its own weight each day.

Q-files now has new sections specially written for younger readers. They are: Living world, Earth, Science, Human body, Prehistoric life, Space, History, Geography and Technology.

Find the answer