Is a Platypus a Mammal?

A platypus in Australia.
A platypus in Australia.

Many people tend to classify platypuses as either reptiles or birds. Interestingly, despite laying eggs, platypuses are mammals. They are classified as monotreme mammals. Monotreme mammals lay eggs, and later hatch them as their means of reproduction.

Some people mistakenly classify them as reptiles because they lay egg using their sides, just like reptiles such as snakes and lizards. They do not lay eggs using their underside like birds. The legs of the platypuses come out from the body from the sides, just like reptiles such as crocodiles. The legs of most mammals come from underneath their body structure.

Others think of the animal as a bird species because its mouth closely resembles the beak of a duck. Its feet are also webbed, just like a duck. Some of its features, having a close resemblance to a duck, brings a bit of confusion.

Reproduction in Platypuses

The burrows of female platypuses are usually larger compared to the burrows of the male platypuses because that is where the female rear their young ones. The eggs develop in the female body for about 28 days before they are laid in a burrow. In most cases, the females lay between one and three eggs. The female then curls around the eggs to ensure that a warm temperature necessary for hatching is retained.

After around ten days the eggs are hatched. The hatched platypuses are usually very small. They require close supervision from their mother to survive. The female platypuses take tender care of the young platypuses up to when they around four months old, when they become capable of surviving on their own. At this age, they come out of the burrow and get into the water, where they learn how to swim.

It should be noted that the mammary glands of the platypuses do not have nipples like many other mammals. The milk is usually extracted from the pores of their skin, and then later collected on the grooves of their stomachs. The baby platypuses, therefore, do not suck the milk, they lap it from their mother’s body.

How Are Platypuses Mammals If They Lay Eggs?

When an animal feeds their young ones with milk from their mammary glands, they are automatically classified as a mammal. Besides, platypuses possess other mammalia characteristics such as being warm-blooded. They do not depend on the temperature fluctuations to determine their body temperatures. They have body mechanisms that help them keep their temperatures constant in case the temperatures rise or fall.

The platypuses use their lungs for breathing, just like as it is expected of all mammals. Furthermore, platypuses have fur covering their bodies. They do not have scales like many reptiles


As discussed above, it is clear that laying eggs does not disqualify an organism from being a mammal. In fact, it should be noted that platypuses are not the only existing egg-laying mammals. As long as an animal feeds its young ones with milk from their mammary glands, it is out rightly considered a mammal. Platypuses can be confusing mammals but with the features discussed above, it is clear that they are mammals.


More in World Facts