Wild Nature

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  • How many things are in the world that surprise by their extraordinary nature! One of such creations is native to Australia and has a name of the platypus. This amazing “beast” is similar at once at several animals. It has a large rounded tail that makes it similar to a beaver, and it’s plasticity, body and legs structure makes platypus looking like an otter, while a wonderful elongated nose of this mammal resembles a duck.

    The platypus is the only aquatic mammal today, who represents the family of Platypus. Together with spiny anteater, it is included in order of Monotrematas that are similar by species features to reptiles. Mature platypus’s weight reaches two kilograms, body length without a tail is up to forty centimeters, the tail itself is about 15 cm. As it’s common in nature, the male is larger female on one-third. The legs of the animal are short, webbed, and are capable be transformed for vigorous activity in the water or for digging on land. Webs are stretched between five phalanges of limbs permitting animal to produce movement in the water, but as soon as necessary to dig up something, membranes are folding and moving claws forward. Development on the front and rear legs are not the same: the front legs serve as active tool movement, having strong membranous outgrowths. Nevertheless, the tail and hind legs are wheel while platypus moves in the water. On land, their movements resemble reptilian gait, because setting paws along the body. The skin of the animal is covered with short, soft, dark fur, lighter or even reddish on the abdomen. The most amazing part of his body – his famous “duck” nose, often referred to as the beak. Such a nose reaches a length of about seven centimeters and in width up to five centimeters. Unlike birds’ beak, this one is soft, its skin is stretched on thin nasal bone, and there are two openings on the upper part of the nasal airway. Auricles are absent, they are replaced by the ear hole, that are situated just like eyes – on the sides of the head, in the grooves.

    A peculiarity of males’ hind legs is the presence of poisonous spurs on. Males are used spurs during mating battles. The venom is produced only during breeding season, and is not lethal to humans, but it permits to call the platypus a poisonous mammal.

    Another feature of platypus – they do not use vision, hearing and smell under the water. All these feelings are replaced by high electrical sensitivity, thanks to a variety of nerve endings in the skin of the nose. These receptors are capable to recognize the electric fields that arise in the contractile activity of the muscles of the living creatures around that perfectly helps the platypus to orient in search of food.

    As mentioned earlier, platypuses are aquatic animals. Their habitat is riparian area or shore of water reservoirs. They tend to dig for their posterity and themselves a hole, reaching a depth of ten meters, and there are two entrances – one goes under the water, the another is above the water at the level of 1.2 – 3.5 meters, located in a hidden area under the roots of trees or vegetation. The balance of staying in the water and on dry land is as follows: during the day a mammal can hold up to ten hours under water, where at night it is looking for a food for itself. Food items for night hunters are inhabitants of the small river, such as worms, insect larvae, mollusks, and even some crustaceans. In addition, in case of insufficient diet, platypus eat algae or river plants. Platypuses have only a few enemies, but in spite of their paucity among them are pythons, monitor lizards, large reptiles, and the leopard seal, which sometimes swim into Australia waters.

    The reproduction time of these mammals is the period of summer and autumn, starting from August to November. Before the pairing itself, that occurs in ponds, are a different kind of courtship when the male may clutching by his teeth a female tail to sail with her a few laps, after that the female concedes. Females outfit holes, which are digging themselves, for the future brood. Holes have a special extended area in the back, it is a nesting chamber. In addition, females carefully equip the place for future young by soft leaves and moss. All moves are sealed tightly to protect against intruders and water. The males do not participate in the construction of the hole and then the education of offspring. The period from mating to eggs laying is for 14 days. Typically, in a litter are 1-3 eggs. They have a rounded shape, with the size of 1 cm. Little platypus hatch in ten days, completely blind and naked. Their body length is 2-3 cm. Within four months they are fed breast milk, after that they begin their independent life.

    Today, the population of these amazing creatures is relatively stable, but because of, rabbits, which undermined platypuses’ burrows, poor environmental conditions and water pollution, animals are losing population, are died during migration.

    Hunting for the platypus is prohibited and Australian environmental organizations have created a number of nature reserves where animals feel pretty.