The platypus is a semi-aquatic mammal that has a very unusual appearance, it is duck-billed, has a beaver-like tail, lays eggs, has otter-like fur and webbed feet.
The platypus is only found in eastern Australia in small rivers and streams within the states of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
When descriptions, drawings and even live specimens of platypus were first taken back to Europe for study by British scientists many believed the animal was a hoax, a beaver's body sewn together with a duck's bill as some sort of joke.
Platypuses and echidnas are the only two mammals in the world classed as monotremes which means that they lay eggs instead of giving birth. Females platypus lay 2 - 4 eggs, incubating them for two weeks.
The back foot ankle spur of a male platypus contains a venom that is powerful enough to kill small animals such as dogs. The venom is not lethal to humans, but it can cause severe pain, that sometimes lasts for weeks.
The average length of a male platypus is 50 cm (20 in), the smaller females average 43 cm (17 in) in length. Platypus weigh 1 to 2.4 kg.
Platypuses can live more than 12 years in the wild. Their natural predators include snakes, water rats, hawks, owls, eagles and sometimes crocodiles.
The platypus is an excellent swimmer, diving under water on average for around 30 seconds to forage for food before coming up for air.
Platypus close their eyes and ears when under water, so in order to feed on worms, insects, and freshwater shrimp, they use their sense of electroreception and dig up muddy river beds with their bill to detect the electric fields of prey.
The platypus uses pouches in its cheeks to carry prey back to the surface where it is eaten. The platypus eats about 20% of its own weight in food each day.
The platypus is usually nocturnal, coming out at night or twilight to feed, sometimes they are also active on overcast days.
The platypus sleeps on average up to 14 hours per day.
The platypus was hunted for its fur until the early 20th century. It is now an Australian protected species.
The platypus is the state animal of New South Wales (NSW).
The platypus has been used as a mascot for national events in Australia and is featured on the Australian 20 cent coin.