When I think about the platypus, which is not ALL that often, I find myself trying to remember if it is an actual animal, and, if so, isn’t it extinct? I end up filing it between unicorns and dodo birds and moving on.
Imagine my surprise (actual eye-popping was involved) in discovering, today, that they are poisonous! I didn’t learn this in a hands on kind of way, thank god. Will brought home a book entitled BEWARE: We Are Poisonous!. It featured the usual suspects on the cover: wasp, poison dart frog, and electric eel.
Buried in the last five pages of the book?….. the Duckbill Platypus.
Apparently, male platypus have stingers on the heels of their back feet. I did NOT know that. How do you even attack something with your heels? Seems awkward and ill-designed.
BUT, this is the platypus we’re talking about. Part duck, beaver, otter, and SCORPION? I did a little more research and discovered that the spurs on their back feet are more of a passive defense mechanism. i.e. “I said QUIT following me!!!” “Whatever you do, DON’T grab my feet!”, etc.
“Are there OTHER poisonous mammals?”Good question. Just a few — the short-tailed shrew, Eurasian water shrew, and the European mole.
From Wikipedia –
To explain the rarity of venom delivery in Mammalia, Mark Dufton of the University of Strathclyde has suggested that modern mammalian predators do not need venom because they are smart and effective enough to kill quickly with tooth or claw; whereas venom, no matter how sophisticated, takes time to disable prey.
POOR platypus. Funny looking AND a few marbles short. Talk about getting the short end of the evolutionary stick.