In the Swim

Shaped like a furry football, the platypus is a skilled swimmer. Its shape helps it dive deep and slice through the water quickly.

A platypus is powered by rapid paddling, using its front webbed feet. The back feet and tail are used for steering and braking. The combination allows the platypus to move gracefully.

The platypus may feel most at home in the water.

This platypus's big webbed feet help propel it through the water.

The platypus’s versatile feet help it both on land and in water. 

front foot

Transformer Toes

The front feet of a platypus are built for both water and land. In the water, extra skin between the toes stretches out to create a broad paddle.

On land, the webbing is retracted. The sharp toes stretch beyond the skin. This allows for claws that dig into the dirt.

The back feet are not convertible like the front ones, but they are remarkable. Their webbing allows the platypus to steer and brake in the water. On land, platypuses use their back claws for grooming.

Male platypuses have an extra surprise in their back feet. Hollow heel spikes are loaded with venom! Platypuses use the poison when fighting. Though not deadly, the venom can cause pain and swelling.

Male platypuses have hollow spikes on their back heels. They are filled with venom. The males fight each other over females and territory. 

The platypus’s tail helps it swim. It also stores fat. 

Tale of a Tail

Though it looks like a beaver tail, a platypus tail is not used for paddling or communication. ​​​​​​​The flat tail is really a body fat storage tank. It can hold almost half of the animal’s body fat.

Now See This

A platypus’s eyes are loaded with extra color receptors. Yet, it does not use its eyes for hunting. These receptors are needed at the water’s surface or on land to better spot predators.

When it dives deep, the platypus closes its eyes tightly. The fur on its eyelids is much lighter than the brown fur covering the rest of its body. This makes it look like its eyes glow in the dark!

Platypus adaptations have been shaped over millions of years. Though these traits may seem like an odd combination to us, this mishmash mammal is a survival success story.

Lighter fur on its eyelids make this platypus’s eyes seem to glow when closed underwater.