Are Platypus Dangerous? (Venomous or not?)

The platypus is an interesting animal and the only mammal that lays eggs. It looks more interesting due to its duck-like beak, which it uses in lake beds to dig out invertebrates. Today, we are going to discuss if platypus is a dangerous animal. 

Are Platypus Dangerous?

Platypus are dangerous animals, but only during the mating season. The male platypus has a horny spike containing dangerous venom on the rear foot, using it to protect his territory. This way, the male platypus becomes one of the only mammals on earth that have venom.

Each of the rear legs of a male platypus has a spur that looks like a scary claw. This spur is connected to its venom gland, which increases during breeding.

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Are female platypus venomous?

Female platypus are not venomous because their spur containing venom falls off before adulthood. You can tell apart female from male platypus based on do they have spur or not.

Adult females lack this venomous spur, but young females have small vestigial spur sheaths shed before maturity. Only spurs contain venom on the platypus body, so there is no venom if there are no spurs.

Why do only male platypus spurs have venom?

Scientists think that males use these spurs to compete with rivals during the breeding season.

Platypus
Platypus

Can a platypus kill a human?

Platypus can’t kill a human as its venom isn’t strong enough to kill us, and there are no records of humans killed by platypus. Also, platypus uses his venomous “weapon” during mating season to show dominance, which is usually springtime.

Even though platypus’s venom probably won’t kill you, it can cause swelling at the wound site, which results in extreme pain that could last for weeks.

This sometimes happens to fishermen, zookeepers, or biologists when handling male platypuses during the breeding season.

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Suppose a person makes a male platypus feel threatened, particularly during mating season. In that case, the platypus can be dangerous and may produce his secret weapon and viciously drive his spurs into his provoke.

Can platypus kill a dog?

Potentially platypus can kill a dog with its venom as the dog is a smaller animal than us humans and only if venom would be directly injected into major blood vessels. Still, there is no certain evidence of this ever happening. On the other hand, the platypus is more vulnerable to other animals, including dogs, when crossing between creeks and dams.

For example, a platypus was found dead in 2020 along Cockatoo Creek, about an hour’s drive east from Melbourne, and the vet confirmed a dog most likely killed it.

There have been opposite testimonies from different hunters, especially those in the 1800s where platypus-dogs attacks occurred more often due to dogs pulling platypus from the water after being shot to provide a pelt.

Platypus swimming
Platypus swimming

One hunter claimed that four of his dogs died after being spurred by platypus. Another hunter reported that his dog survived being spurred on three occasions (dog’s head), and his dog had less and less severe effects.

A few laboratory trials have also injected platypus venom into rabbits and mice with two opposite results.

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When the venom was injected under the skin, animals survived, but animals died if it was injected directly into a vein. In real-life situations, when platypus and dog would get into a fight, the most likely first situation would happen, and dogs would most likely experience swelling for a few days.

Are platypus aggressive?

Platypus are not aggressive by nature, and they tend to be shy, wary, solitary, nocturnal animals that have their “own space” or home range where they live and feed. They typically sleep in their burrows for most hours of the day, leaving their burrow only in the early mornings and evenings to feed.

They are nocturnal by nature as they are most active during dusk and night and sleep during the day.

But again, when mating season arrives or when male platypus feels threatened or territorial, they may become extremely aggressive and quite literally “draw their claws out” but only towards another male platypus. Still, scientists, their venom isn’t meant to kill other males.

These animals are known as monotremes because they commonly have a cloaca, an opening in the rear. This opening is used not only for voiding urine and feces but also for performing sexual activities. This feature is normally found in reptiles and birds, along with monotremes like tetrapods.  

How dangerous is a platypus?

 

Are Platypus Dangerous?
Are Platypus Dangerous?

According to researchers, venom is produced by male platypuses during their breeding season to help them while competing for female platypuses and defending their area, so that’s the only period when platypus would be dangerous.

Their venom contains over 80 different toxins in 13 different classes. The poison can kill really small animals and can leave humans in pain for weeks.

While attacking a victim, the platypus wraps around its rear legs to insert its sharp spurs and discharge venom. In the wild, a male platypus has the potential to paralyze even another platypus for some time.

When a platypus attacks a human, the area where it has stung will swell, and much pain is experienced. It hurts so bad that it cannot be relieved even after using morphine.

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Though scientists to date have found all the toxins present in the venom of a platypus, some of the toxins in its venom send signals to neurons in your brain, it makes you feel pain after being stung by a platypus. 

So if you ever come across a platypus, then you should be careful and stay away from its rear legs.

MORE RELEVANT INFORMATION

Where do platypus live?

Platypus live in freshwaters flowing through the south-eastern and eastern coast of Australia and the island of Tasmania. Platypus live in water most of the time, but they also shift to the river banks, where they use their claws to dig burrows.

In these burrows, you can find chambers or rooms to live in. They also live under the roots, debris, or projected rocks. Platypus can live in extreme weather conditions even if they live only on one side of the Australian continent. Even in chilly temperatures, they remain warm due to their thick and waterproof fur. For energy, they store extra fat in their big tails.

How does platypus eat?

The platypus doesn’t have teeth, so it stores its food in her/his cheek pouches. Platypus mash their meals with the help of gravel bits, then swallow it all down. Their meal contains insects, shellfish, waterbugs, worms, tadpoles, etc. They consume small mouthfuls of food at intervals of about one minute or so, and this feeding period lasts a good few hours.

Does platypus have a stomach?

The platypus doesn’t have a stomach. The platypus’ esophagus is directly connected to its intestine instead of a separate pouch where food is collected.

The stomach doesn’t secrete digestive acids or enzymes, though it does contain glands that produce a mucus-rich fluid to assist nutrient absorption.

Platypus food is chewed so well in its mouth that there’s no need for much more pre-digestive processing, meaning there’s no need for the stomach as a large holding capacity to accommodate large meals, only occasional meals.