Mammal, Egg Layer or Both? (1)

By definition, a mammal is an animal that is warm-blooded and a vertebrate (animal with a backbone), which nourishes their young with milk from mammary glands. Mammals, by and large, produce live young – however, there are two exceptions to this!

These exceptions are egg-laying mammals – these are called monotremes! This post will cover the more well-known species, and a following post will cover the lesser known of the two.

It would seem that a lot of people tend to be aware of the first on my list:

Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

Native to Australia (including Tasmania), the Platypus is a unique looking mammal, which has been described as looking like a Frankenstein creation! When it was first sent back to England from Australia, in 1943, to British Naturalist George Shaw, he was looking for stitches as he believed it was a hoax by his colleagues, who had stitched together their own Frankenstein animal creation!

I don’t think we can blame him, to be honest; sometimes referred to as the Duck-Billed Platypus, due to having a duck-like bill (beak), the Platypus also has a beaver-like body and tail, with claws on their webbed (otter-like) feet! Something you may not know, however, is that, on the back legs, the males of this species have venomous spurs/ spikes! They also have cheek pouches (like your pet hamster) in which they store food that they catch under water to bring to the surface to eat.

They can hold their breath for up to 10 minutes at a time. However, they tend to hunt under the water for only a couple of minutes before coming up for air (or dinner).

Platypus, open source image

Another anomaly with this mammal is that they do not feed their young via nipples – instead they ‘sweat’ milk through specialised glands in their skin, which pools on their bellies, for their young (known as Puggles) to drink.

The weirdness doesn’t stop there, though! The Platypus does not have a stomach – their oesophagus connects directly to their intestines, and food is digested in the intestines by digestive enzymes.

Stay tuned for the second species…

All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.

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