The disease (termed Mucormycosis) only affects Tasmanian platypuses, and has not been observed in platypuses in mainland Australia.
Platypuses generally suffer from few diseases in the wild; however, there is widespread public concern in Tasmania about the potential impacts of a disease caused by the fungus Mucor amphibiorum.
The platypus has an average body temperature of about of about 32°C (90°F), rather than the 37°C (99°F) typical of placental mammals.
The platypus feeds by digging in the bottom of streams with its bill.
The platypus can determine the direction of an electric source, perhaps by comparing differences in signal strength across the sheet of electroreceptors.
In 2004, researchers at the Australian National University discovered the platypus has ten sex chromosomes, compared with two (XY) in most other mammals (for instance, a male platypus is always XYXYXYXYXY).
Except for its loss from the state of South Australia, the platypus occupies the same general distribution as it did prior to European settlement of Australia.
The current and historical abundance of the platypus, however, is less well-known and it has probably declined in numbers, although still being considered as "common" over most of its current range.
The fossil is thought to be about 110 million years old, which means that the platypus-like animal was alive during the Cretaceous period, making it the oldest mammal fossil found in Australia.
Much of the world was introduced to the platypus in 1939 when National Geographic Magazine published an article on the platypus and the efforts to study and raise it in captivity.
The platypus is an excellent swimmer and spends much of its time in the water foraging for food.
The platypus is generally regarded as nocturnal and crepuscular, but individuals are also active during the day, particularly when the sky is overcast.
The platypus and four species of echidnas ("spiny anteaters") comprise the only extant species of monotremes, the egg-laying mammals of the order Monotremata, the only order in subclass Monotremata (or Prototheria).
The platypus uses its tail for storage of fat reserves (an adaptation also found in animals such as the Tasmanian devil and fat-tailed sheep).
Platypuses have been heard to emit a low growl when disturbed and a range of other vocalizations have been reported in captive specimens.
The platypus is one of the few venomous mammals; the male platypus has a spur on the hind foot that delivers a venom capable of causing severe pain to humans.
The squat body and the broad, flat tail of the platypus are covered with dense brown fur that traps a layer of insulating air to keep the animal warm.
A draft version of the platypus genome sequence was published in Nature on May 8, 2008, revealing both reptilian and mammalian elements, as well as two genes found previously only in birds, amphibians, and fish.
Outside the mating season, the platypus lives in a simple ground burrow whose entrance is about 30 centimeters (12 inches) above the water level.
Experiments have shown that the platypus will even react to an "artificial shrimp" if a small electrical current is passed through it.
The platypus and other monotremes were very poorly understood and some of the nineteenth century myths that grew up around them—for example, that the monotremes were "inferior" or quasi-reptilian—still endure.
The extinct monotremes (Teinolophos and Steropodon) were closely related to the modern platypus.
The platypus jaw is constructed differently from that of other mammals, and the jaw-opening muscle is different.
More than 80 percent of the platypus' genes are common to the other mammals whose genomes have been sequenced.
The platypus has extra bones in the shoulder girdle, including an interclavicle, which is not found in other mammals.
The modern platypus young have three-cusped molars which they lose before or just after leaving the breeding burrow; adults have heavily keratinized pads in their place.
The female platypus, in common with echidnas, has rudimentary spur buds that do not develop (dropping off before the end of their first year) and lack functional crural glands.
Both electroreceptors and mechanoreceptors in the bill dominate the somatotopic map of the platypus brain, in the same way human hands dominate the Penfield homunculus map.
Low platypus numbers in northern Australia are possibly due to predation by crocodiles.
Mucormycosis can kill platypuses, death arising from secondary infection and by affecting the animals' ability to maintain body temperature and forage efficiency.
Until the early twentieth century, the platypus was hunted for its fur, but it is now protected throughout its range.
The common name, platypus, is Latin derived from the Greek words ?????? or platys, meaning "flat" or "broad," and ???? or pous, meaning "foot,"—in other words, ""flat foot.
When the platypus was first discovered, scientists were divided over whether the female laid eggs.
Monotremes are placed in two families, with the platypus belonging to Ornithorhynchidae and the four species of echidnas in the Tachyglossidae family.
The male platypus has ankle spurs that produce a cocktail of venom, composed largely of defensin-like proteins (DLPs); the venom is unique to the platypus.
When disturbed, its prey would generate tiny electrical currents in their muscular contractions, which the sensitive electroreceptors of the platypus could detect.
The oldest discovered fossil of the modern platypus dates back to about 100,000 years ago, during the Quaternary period.
In captivity, platypuses have survived to 17 years of age and tagged wild specimens have been recaptured at 11 years old.
When the platypus was first discovered by Europeans in 1798, a pelt and sketch were sent back to the United Kingdom by Captain John Hunter, the second Governor of New South Wales.
The platypus' electroreception is the most sensitive of any monotreme.
The name "platypus" is often prefixed with the adjective "duck-billed" to form duck-billed platypus, despite there being only one species of platypus.
The platypus does not appear to be in immediate danger of extinction thanks to conservation measures, but it could be impacted by habitat disruption caused by dams, irrigation, pollution, netting, and trapping.
The platypus needs to eat about twenty percent of its own weight each day.
The plural usually is formed as either platypuses or platypus, with either correct, although platypi also appears on occasion.
The leading figure in these efforts was David Fleay, who established a platypussary—a simulated stream in a tank—at the Healesville Sanctuary and had a successful breeding first in 1943.