•Duck-billed platypuses cant be real, can they? This small, amphibious mammal has a tail like a beaver, a body like an otter, walks like a reptile, has webbed feet and a beak like a bird, and it lays eggs! •Platypuses are so strange looking, the first biologist to study them, in 1799, thought someone was playing a joke on him. There are thousands of them living in the swamps, lakes, and rivers of eastern Australia and parts of Tasmania.•Duck-billed platypuses are small, shy animals. Theyhave a flattened head and body to help them glidethrough the water. Their fur, dark brown on top andtan on their bellies, is thick and repels water to keepthem warm and dry even after hours of swimming.They grow to about 18 inches (47 centimeters) inlength and weigh around 3 pounds (1.5 kilograms).
Koalas are Marsupials, like kangaroos. This means that they keep their newborns in a pouch. Also like a kangaroo, baby koalas are called joeys. A koala mom gives birth to a newborn Joey that is the size of a jelly bean! The baby cannot see as soon as it is born but it can smell and touch. The baby develops in the momsAfter a baby has been in the pouch for about six pouch for seven monthsmonths, its mother begins to produce a specialsubstance called pap.The joey feeds on this inaddition to the milk its already getting. Pap comesfrom the mothers intestines and contains bacteriathat the joey needs to have in its own intestines sothat it can digest an adult diet of eucalyptus leaves.At about seven months, the joey leaves the pouch toeat leaves, but returns to it to nurse. By the time thejoey is about one year old, it stops nursing and eatsjust leaves.
Tasmanian devils Like allare nocturnal marsupials, Tasmanianimals, spending an devil motherstheir days alone in give birth to veryhollow tiny young (aboutlogs, caves, or the size of a raisin).burrows, and Once born, theemerging at night babies crawl up theto feed. They use mothers fur andtheir excellent into hersense of smell and pouch, where theysight to avoid attach themselves topredators and a nipple and feedlocate prey and until they are readycarrion. They are to emerge, usuallyvoracious eaters after about fourand will consume months.everything—includinghair, organs, andbones.
FAST FACTSThe scientific name for the koala isPhascolarctos cinereus.Koalas are marsupials; newborn koalas—calledjoeys—continue to develop in their motherspouches.Koalas have thick woolly fur that protects themfrom both heat and cold. It also acts like araincoat.
If you thought these marvelousmammals couldnt get any morebizarre, they have another trick instore: Male platypuses arevenomous! They have a pointy spuron their hind ankles that connectsto a venom sac in each leg.They mainly use these weapons inmating battles with othermales, but they will attack withthem if threatened. The poison isnot strong enough to kill ahuman, but people who have beenstung say the wound is extremely These water-loving mammals have fullypainful. webbed front feet to power themselves through the water. They use their back feet and tails to brake and steer. Their most remarkable feature is their amazing snout. It looks like a ducks bill, but is actually quite soft and covered with thousands of receptors that help the platypus detect prey.
Thousands of years ago, devils livedthroughout mainland Australia. Scientists thinkthey became extinct there after Asiandogs, called dingoes, were brought to thecontinent. In 1941, the government madedevils a protected species. Since then, theirnumbers have grown greatly, and theyvebecome a beloved symbol of the island. Tragically, since the mid-1990s, a catastrophic disease has killed thousands of Tasmanian devils. Called devil facial tumor disease (DFTD), this fatal condition is a rare contagious cancer that causes lumps to form around the animals mouth and head, making it hard for it to eat. Scientists are working hard to find a way to stop the spread of DFTD before it wipes the species out.
People used to hunt koalas for theirfur. Now strict laws protect them fromhunters, but their habitat is notprotected, and it is disappearing asland is developed.More than four-fifths of original koalahabitat has been destroyed. Peopleare trying to save what is left.A female koala is pregnant for only 35days before giving birth; most of thejoeys growth and development takesplace in the mothers pouch.Koalas spend as many as 18 hours aday napping and resting.Koalas smell like cough drops becauseof their diet of eucalyptus leaves.
FAST FACTSThe scientific name for the Tasmanian devil isSarcophilus harrisii, which means Harris meatlover.When threatened or excited, the ears of aTasmanian devil turn bright red.An angry Tasmanian devil will often point itstail straight up in the air.Devils came to Tasmania tens of thousands ofyears ago when ocean levels were lower and Tasmanian devils bodies are usuallythere was a land connection with Australia. between 20 and 31 inches (51 and 79 centimeters) long.Tasmanian devils are actually quitetimid, preferring escape to confrontation. Tasmanian devils are notoriously fierce, and they will often attack prey many times theirOne of the Tasmanian devils favorite foods is own size.the wombat. Young Tasmanian devils are excellent climbers. As they get older and heavier, they
•Platypuses spend most of their time alone, sleeping or eating.They feed in the water at night, frantically swimming around withtheir eyes and ears closed, using their bill to search for theirfavorite foods: insect larvae, shellfish, and worms. Their mouth hasno teeth. Instead, a pad of rough skin near their throat grinds upfood before swallowing. •During the day, platypuses sleep in burrows made with their long front claws. Each animal will maintain several burrows, usually dug in areas where there are overhanging branches and exposed roots to disguise the entrance. Platypuses are eaten by a wide array of Australian predators, including dingoes, foxes, large snakes, and even eels.
• Kangaroos give birth to joeys who are the size of a grape at birth.• Joeys live in their mothers pouch
The Emu is a large, flightless bird from Australia. It is the second-biggest bird in Australia and the third-biggest bird in the world (only the ostrich and cassowary are bigger). The emu is also very fast; it can run up to 30 mph (50 kph). Emus also swim very well. This huge bird lives in flocks (groups) in grasslands, savannas(grasslands with some trees), and the Australian bush. The emus life span is 10-20 years. Diet: Emus are primarily herbivores (plant- eaters). They eat grass, seeds, flowers, young plants, and fruit. They also eat some• Anatomy Emus grow to be about 6 insects(including caterpillars). They swallowfeet (185 cm) tall and weigh about small stones (called gastroliths or gizzard110 pounds (50 kg). This is bigger stones) which stay in the gizzard and help grindthan many adult humans. up food.
Koalas havethick, grayishfur, with whiteon theirchests, innerarms, and ears.They have largefurry ears andleathery noses. There are many kinds ofKoalas live in eucalyptus trees.trees, sometime Koalas will eats coming down from only a fewto the ground to of these.seek shade oranother tree. Koalas inThey different areasoccasionally like differentjump from one kinds oftree to the next. eucalyptus leaves.
•A mother platypus will dig a verydeep tunnel, called a nurseryburrow, when shes ready to lay hereggs. These burrows sometimesextend 100 feet (30 meters) from thewater. They have a leaf-lined denwhere the mother curls up toincubate her eggs.•She blocks the entrance with severaldirt mounds to keep water andpredators from entering and willnurse her hatchlings there for up tofour months. Platypuses are long-lived, surviving 20 years or more incaptivity and up to 12 years in thewild.
There are many kinds ofeucalyptus trees. Koalas will eatfrom only a few of these.Koalas in different areas likedifferent kinds of eucalyptusleaves.The word koala maycome from anAboriginal wordmeaning no drink.Although koalas do Mature males have brown scent glands in thedrink when center of their white chests. They rub these onnecessary, they their home trees to mark their territory.obtain most of themoisture they need Koalas and most other marsupials live infrom leaves. Australia and neighboring islands. The only marsupial native to North America is the Virginia opossum.
• Kangaroos live in Eastern Australia. They live in small groups called troops or herds (“mobs” by Australians), typically made up of 50 or more animals.• If threatened, kangaroos pound the ground with their strong feet in warning. Fighting kangaroos kick opponents, and sometimes bite.
Most devils have a white stripe or patch ontheir chest and spots on their sides or rear The most famous characteristic of theend. Males are usually a bit bigger than Tasmanian devil, though, is its feistyfemales. Tasmanian devils are strictly personality. When threatened, a devilcarnivorous, surviving on small prey and will lunge at itsfrequently feasting on already dead attacker, shriek, howl, bare itsanimals, called carrion. When they are well teeth, and often spin around in circlesfed, they store fat in their tails. like the cartoon Taz. Devils will also display these behaviors when trying to join in as other devils are eating an animal carcass or fighting for a mate.
•Scientists think these fascinating creatures arethe earliest relatives of modern mammals.Recent studies show that they first evolvedmore than 112 million years ago, well beforethe extinction of the dinosaurs. Humans oncetrapped platypuses for their skins, but a lawpassed in 1912 ended such harvesting, andplatypus populations are generally healthy.
Fun Facts Koalas have their own built-in cushion! The fur on a koalas bottom is extra thick so that the koala can comfortably rest in trees. Fossils of 12 different extinct species of koala have been found. These extinct koalas were much larger than the ones today. They were like giant koalas!Koalas are found in the wild only in the forests ofeastern Australia.Koalas live in bushland with other koalas. Each has itsown home trees which are generally not visited byother koalas except in mating season.In an ideal habitat in the wild, male koalas live about10 years, while females may live a few years longer.Thousands of koalas are killed each year by cars anddogs.Though koalas look like teddy bears and aresometimes even referred to as koala bears, they arenot bears.
• Reproduction: The emus nest is a shallow hole by a bush; it is lined with leaves, grass, and bark. The female lays from 4 to 20 greenish-brown eggs in a clutch (a group of eggs laid at one time). Chicks (baby emus) hatch after an incubation period of about 8 weeks. The male incubates (keeps warm) the eggs and cares for the chicks for about 1 1/2 years.
If you watch cartoons, the first thing you think of when you hear the name Tasmanian devil is probably Taz, the whirling, maniacal, always hungry, angry cartoon character. But Tasmanian devils are real and are feisty like the cartoon Taz! Tasmanian devils are the largest carnivorous (meat-eating) marsupials in the world. Marsupials are mammals that have a pouch on their bellies for carrying their babies. Tasmanian devils live in Tasmania, a large island just south of Australia. In fact, TasmaniaAdult Tasmanian devils are usually is the only place where they are found in theabout the size of a small dog. They wild.have coarse brown or black fur and apudgy appearance that makes themlook like baby bears. But dont lettheir cuteness fool you. They havesharp teeth and strong, muscularjaws that can deliver one of the mostpowerful bites of any mammal onEarth.
Kangaroos possess powerful hind legs, a long, strong tail, and small front legs. They’re the biggest of all marsupials, standing over 6 feet (2 meters) tall. Kangaroos belong to the animal family Macropus, literally "big foot." Thanks totheir large feet, kangaroos can leap some 30 feet in a single bound, and travelmore than 30 mph (48 kmh). Kangaroos use their strong tails for balance whilejumping.