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Basic Information

The platypus is quite possibly one the weirdest animals on the planet. It's a monotreme, that is a mammal that lays eggs.1 It has a bill like a duck and a tail like a beaver.

Male platypi have spurs on the ankles of their hindlegs that can inject venom, which is pretty darned rare amongst mammals and the location of the injection mechanism is just generally weird. The venom is primarily composed of defensin-like proteins (DLPs), three of which are unique to the species. The venom is produced by the male's crural, kidney-shaped alveolar glands, connected by a thin-walled duct to a calcaneus spur on each hind limb. Some sources indicate that the venom may cause a long-lasting hyper-algesia (heightened pain sensitivity), that may persist for months or even years. In 1991, Keith Payne, a former member of the Australian Army and recipient of the Victoria Cross, was bitten on his hand by a stranded platypus that he was trying to save. Payne described the pain to be worse than that of grenade shrapnel! Fifteen years later, in 2006, Payne reported that he still had symptoms, like discomfort and stiffness when carrying out certain physical activities, like using a hammer.

They hunt in the water with their eyes closed, sensing the electric current in the bodies of their prey, a sense/process known as electrolocation.

The platypus is native only to Australia, and when first reported to European naturalists most of them thought it was a hoax.

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Game and Story Use

  • PCs exploring a new continent (or the depths of some ancient dungeon) could well discover critters that make the chimera seem mundane. The platypus demonstrates just how bizarre mother nature can get.
  • Monstrous / giant platypodes could be an awesome monster.
  • Suddenly the owlbear doesn't seem all that incredible…
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