Duck-Billed Platypus

Duck-Billed Platypus

Duck-Billed Platypus
Photographer: Peter Scheunis

Duck-Billed Platypus Range Map (E Australia & Tasmania)
Duck-Billed Platypus Range Map
(E Australia & Tasmania)
Latin Name Ornithorhynchus anatinus
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location E Mainland Australia & Tasmania
Colour Brown
Length 40 - 60 cms (16 - 23.5 inches)
Tail 8.5 - 15 cms (3.25 - 6 inches)
Weight 0.8 - 2.5 Kgs (1.75 - 5.5 lbs)
Life Expectancy

10 Yrs (Wild)
17 Yrs (in Captivity)

Main Characteristics

Duck-Billed Platypuses are semi-aquatic mammals. They have a body length between 40 and 60 cms (16 - 23.5 inches), a tail length between 8.5 and 15 cms (3.25 - 6 inches), a bill length between 5.2 and 5.8 cms (2 - 2.3 inches) and they weigh between 0.8 and 2.5 Kgs (1.75 - 5.5 lbs). Males are larger than females and there are size variations depending on their location and the season.

They have short, thick fur which is coloured dark brown on their back, but lighter on their underside. They have short limbs with webbed front feet and partially webbed hind feet. Males have a horny spur that they can emit venom from while fighting, which is strong enough to kill small animals and cause intense pain to a human.

Their bill is flexible and it is covered in electroreceptors and mechanoreceptors that respond to electrical and tactile stimuli. Their tail is broad and flat and is used to aid swimming and to store fat reserves, an adaptation it shares with the tasmanian devil.

They rest in their burrows during the day and they are mainly active at night. They are excellent swimmers and they spend most of their time in the water. They can close their nostrils, eyes and ears to prevent water from entering them when they dive below the surface.

Platypuses are known to emit a low growl if they are disturbed and several other vocalizations have been herd being emitted from captive animals.


Duck-Billed Platypuses are found in the lakes, streams and rivers of eastern mainland Australia and Tasmania.

They build their burrows in banks, with the entrance being approximately 30 cms (12 inches) above the surface of the water.

Duck-Billed Platypuses have territories of up to 7 kms (4.4 miles) and the territory of a male will overlap with the territories of 3 - 4 females.


The diet of a Duck-Billed Platypus mainly consists of invertebrates that live on the bottom of lakes, rivers or streams. Occasionally they will also eat fish, insects or frogs. They use their bill to navigate through murky water to locate their food.


Duck-Billed Platypuses breed between July and October. Mating occurs under water and after a gestation period of approximately 2 - 3 weeks 2, occasionally 3, soft shelled eggs are laid. The female curls herself around her eggs and incubates them for approximately 10 days.

When the young hatch they are blind and hairless and they feed only from their mother's milk. Females lack teats and instead milk is secreted from pores in the skin. The young are able to lap up her milk from the pools that collect in the grooves of her abdomen.

The young Platypuses emerge from the burrow when they reach approximately 4 months old. Females are thought to become sexually mature in their second year.


The main predators of Duck-Billed Platypuses are snakes, water rats, monitor lizards, hawks, owls and eagles.


There are no subspecies of the Duck-Billed Platypus.

Interesting Facts

Duck-Billed Platypus are also known as:
Duck Bill

Duck-Billed Platypuses have one of the lowest body temperatures of any mammal, being around 30°c

A Duck-Billed Platypus is featured on the reverse of an Australian 20 cent coin.

The Duck-Billed Platypus is one of the few venomous mammals.

There is no universally agree plural for Platypus, the following are examples of some that are used:

Platypus is Latin derived from the Greek words "Platys" and "Pous" meaning "Flat Foot"

Similar Animals

Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna
Western Long-Beaked Echidna
Sir Davids Long-Beaked Echidna
Short-Beaked Echidna


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