The platypus is amazing, a chimera with a beak like a bird, webbed feet like a frog, venom like a snake, a tail like a beaver and it lays eggs like a reptile! It is such a mishmash of animals that the British originally thought it was a hoax, to the point where one scientist took scissors to the dead specimen to hunt for the stitches…
These beaver-esque creatures spend most of their live in the water, a secretive existence which means we don’t know much about them.
Platypuses* have dense waterproof fur which traps a layer of air to help insulate them. Their tail is used to store fat reserves. But it is their beak which I find most amazing. It is a sensory organ with the mouth on the underside and nostrils on top. They also use their bill to detect vibrations and electrical impulses which helps them find their food and means they can detect prey with their eyes closed. This is similar to what we saw with the wild unknown shark. This is amazing and is very much asking us to tune in to what we sense beyond our sight. What do we feel in our bodies? The keyword for this card is women’s wisdom – to tap into that innate knowledge, we need to tap into our own bodies.
The highly sensitive beak is also used in courtship, they nuzzle their beaks to bond and build trust. We too should explore our bodies through play and caresses.
Females take the lead with mating and once the deed is done, the female builds a special, deeper, more defended burrow covered in a soft layer of leaves and reeds. The male disappears back to his own burrow and has no part to play after sex. As egg laying mammals, the platypus is very special. She will develop her eggs inside her for about 28 days before laying them. It is then about 10 days before they hatch. During this time, mum curls herself around the one to three little eggs. When they hatch, the minute platypuses are incredibly vulnerable. They are blind and hairless and in desperate need of nourishment. In another divergence from the standard mammals, mum doesn’t have teats, instead milk is released through pores in her skin. After about four months, the babies will emerge from the burrow .
This very special animal features in a number of myths including those which explain it’s unusual appearance. One story tells that the land animals, the water animals and the birds all wanted the platypus to join their group and they competed over in. But in the end the platypus declined all their offers; he did not need to be part of a group to feel special. Another story uses the same basics to explain why the platypus lives alone. Regardless, the platypus has found a way to be at ease with himself, to feel special without the external validation of others and has found a way of following his own, individual path.
We are all a mishmash of different parts and like the platypus, we should embrace and love our uniqueness.
*There is no universally agreed plural of “platypus” in the English language. Scientists generally use “platypuses” or simply “platypus”.