Monotremes | Monotremata

Monotremes, or Monotremata, are egg-laying mammals under the order Monotremata. Even so, they take care of the young by suckling them with milk. Monotremes are endemic to Australia and New Guinea. Their prominent physical features include hair on their bodies, humerus-oriented limbs, a complex pectoral girdle, birdlike skulls, and the absence of teeth. Monotremes are solitary and are the most primitive order of mammals with reptilian-like features, and a good sense of smell but poor eyesight. They are aquatic and bottom feeders with a body that is round and fat and covered by a short thick spine. They also possess a tube-like rostrum covered with leathery skin.

Why are monotremes unique from mammals?

The unique thing about monotremes is their weird reproductive system as they lay eggs that are kept in the female’s body for nourishment. Besides, they lack teats. The young ones therefore feed on the milk secreted by the many pores on the female’s body. Besides, they also have unique shoulder girdles and sprawling limbs.

Do monotremes have teeth?

Monotremes lack teeth as their mouth is modified into a beak or snout. The only thing these primitive creatures share with humans is a lower jaw with a single bone, three middle ear bones, the ability to produce milk and nurture their young, and hair on their bodies. Besides, monotremes also have high metabolic rates.

Are monotremes carnivores?

Monotremes are carnivores, but not all of them feed on the same type of prey. Platypus, which is semi-aquatic, is carnivore-insectivore while others, like echidnas, feed on ground invertebrates. Monotremes come out of their hiding at night or early morning and evening to look for food. This makes them very secretive and hard to study.

Monotremes Guides
Browse through our curated Monotremes Guides for additional categorizations, tips, details, variations, styles, and histories of Monotremes. Guides provide additional insights into the unique properties and shared relationships between elements.
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15”-24.4” | 38-62 cm
10.6”-17.3” | 27-44 cm
23.6”-39.4” | 60-100 cm (Body)
11-22 lb | 5-10 kg
10-30 years
Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna
62.000
44.000
100.000
10.000
30.00
70
3D
Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna
Platypus
759400
3.9”-6.7” | 10-17 cm
3.5”-6.3” | 9-16 cm
15”-24.8” | 38-63 cm (Overall)
1.8-6.6 lb | .8-3 kg
7-21 years
Platypus
17.000
16.000
63.000
3.000
21.00
759400
3D
Platypus
6.3”-9.4” | 16-24 cm
6.3”-9.4” | 16-24 cm
11.8”-17.7” | 30-45 cm (Body)
4.4-15.4 lb | 2-7 kg
10-50 years
Short-Beaked Echidna
24.000
24.000
45.000
7.000
50.00
5100
3D
Short-Beaked Echidna
11”-25.2” | 28-64 cm
9.1”-20.9” | 23-53 cm
17.7”-39.4” | 45-100 cm (Body)
9.25-22 lb | 4.2-10 kg
10-30 years
Sir David's Long-Beaked Echidna
64.000
53.000
100.000
10.000
30.00
205
3D
Sir David's Long-Beaked Echidna
12.2”-21.25” | 31-54 cm
7.9”-13.4” | 20-34 cm
17.7”-30.7” | 45-78 cm (Body)
22-36.4 lb | 10-16.5 kg
12-41 years
Western Long-Beaked Echidna
54.000
34.000
78.000
16.500
41.00
90
3D
Western Long-Beaked Echidna
Short-Beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)
Comparison illustration of the size of a Short-Beaked Echidna to other species of monotremes

There are two unique features that make the Short-Beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) worth all the attention: it lays eggs and has a specialized snout and tongue for catching prey at terrific speeds. However, what makes it easily recognizable is the back with its long protective light-brown to black spines and a snout that is long, tubeless, toothless, and furless. It is endemic to Australia and Papua New Guinea in places like woodlands, deserts, meadows, and coastal forests. The short-beaked echidna is a solitary animal and polygamous. During warm periods, it is nocturnal but turns diurnal in colder months. It is a carnivorous animal that feeds on insects.

The Short-Beaked Echidna has a body length in the range of 11.8”-17.7” (30-45 cm) and total weight of 4.4-15.4 lb (2-7 kg). The Short-Beaked Echidna has an estimated body height between 6.3”-9.4” (16-24 cm) and body width of 6.3”-9.4” (16-24 cm). The typical lifespan of the Short-Beaked Echidna is between 10-50 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Short-Beaked Echidna in various poses with dimensions
There are two unique features that make the Short-Beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) worth all the attention: it lays eggs and has a specialized snout and tongue for catching prey at terrific speeds. However, what makes it easily recognizable is the back with its long protective spines.

The Short-Beaked Echidna has a body length in the range of 11.8”-17.7” (30-45 cm) and total weight of 4.4-15.4 lb (2-7 kg). The Short-Beaked Echidna has an estimated body height between 6.3”-9.4” (16-24 cm) and body width of 6.3”-9.4” (16-24 cm). The typical lifespan of the Short-Beaked Echidna is between 10-50 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Short-Beaked Echidna in various poses with dimensions
Short-Beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)
Height:
6.3”-9.4” | 16-24 cm
Width:
6.3”-9.4” | 16-24 cm
Length:
11.8”-17.7” | 30-45 cm (Body)
Depth:
Weight:
4.4-15.4 lb | 2-7 kg
Area:

Snout Length: 2.4”-3” | 6-7.5 cm

Scientific Name
Tachyglossus aculeatus
Lifespan
10-50 years

Drawings include:

Short-Beaked Echidna side view, front

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Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna (Zaglossus bartoni)
Scale illustration of an average Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna compared to other Monotreme species

The fur on the Eastern Long-beaked Echidna (Zaglossus bartoni) is long, dense, black, or brown, while the spine is white and covers the back of the body. It lacks teeth and instead has a horny plate for grinding food. Besides, it lacks a tail. When threatened, it rolls into a ball. It is also called Barton’s long-beaked echidna occurring in tropical hill forests, upland grasslands, and alpine forests of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia in underground dens. It is known to be nocturnal, solitary, and elusive. The Eastern long-beaked echidna is insectivorous.

The Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna has a body length in the range of 23.6”-39.4” (60-100 cm) and total weight of 11-22 lb (5-10 kg). The Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna has an estimated body height between 15”-24.4” (38-62 cm) and body width of 10.6”-17.3” (27-44 cm). The typical lifespan of the Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna is between 10-30 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna
The fur on the Eastern Long-beaked Echidna (Zaglossus bartoni) is long, dense, black, or brown, while the spine is white and covers the back of the body. It lacks teeth and instead has a horny plate for grinding food. Besides, it lacks a tail. When threatened, it rolls into a ball.

The Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna has a body length in the range of 23.6”-39.4” (60-100 cm) and total weight of 11-22 lb (5-10 kg). The Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna has an estimated body height between 15”-24.4” (38-62 cm) and body width of 10.6”-17.3” (27-44 cm). The typical lifespan of the Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna is between 10-30 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna
Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna (Zaglossus bartoni)
Height:
15”-24.4” | 38-62 cm
Width:
10.6”-17.3” | 27-44 cm
Length:
23.6”-39.4” | 60-100 cm (Body)
Depth:
Weight:
11-22 lb | 5-10 kg
Area:

Snout Length: 5.5”-8.7” | 14-22 cm

Scientific Name
Zaglossus bartoni
Lifespan
10-30 years

Drawings include:

Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna side view, front

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Western Long-Beaked Echidna (Zaglossus bruijnii)
Scale illustration of an average Western Long-Beaked Echidna compared to other Monotreme species

The Western Long-beaked Echidna (Zaglossus bruijnii) is primarily found in the mountainous forests and elevated alpine meadows of New Guinea. This egg-laying mammal eats soil invertebrates, unlike the short-beaked echidna. It is also bigger, with a longer snout pointing downwards and lacks teeth. The tail is short, and the back is covered in spines hidden by a coarse brown or black hair. The feet have three claws instead of four. It is believed to be solitary, nocturnal, and highly elusive. When threatened, it rolls into a ball of radiating spines or digs into burrows since it is not agile.

The Western Long-Beaked Echidna has a body length in the range of 17.7”-30.7” (45-78 cm) and total weight of 22-36.4 lb (10-16.5 kg). The Western Long-Beaked Echidna has an estimated body height between 12.2”-21.25” (31-54 cm) and body width of 7.9”-13.4” (20-34 cm). The typical lifespan of the Western Long-Beaked Echidna is between 12-41 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Western Long-Beaked Echidna
The Western Long-beaked Echidna (Zaglossus bruijnii) is primarily found in the mountainous forests and elevated alpine meadows of New Guinea. This egg-laying mammal eats soil invertebrates, unlike the short-beaked echidna. It is also bigger, with a longer snout pointing downwards and lacks teeth.

The Western Long-Beaked Echidna has a body length in the range of 17.7”-30.7” (45-78 cm) and total weight of 22-36.4 lb (10-16.5 kg). The Western Long-Beaked Echidna has an estimated body height between 12.2”-21.25” (31-54 cm) and body width of 7.9”-13.4” (20-34 cm). The typical lifespan of the Western Long-Beaked Echidna is between 12-41 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Western Long-Beaked Echidna
Western Long-Beaked Echidna (Zaglossus bruijnii)
Height:
12.2”-21.25” | 31-54 cm
Width:
7.9”-13.4” | 20-34 cm
Length:
17.7”-30.7” | 45-78 cm (Body)
Depth:
Weight:
22-36.4 lb | 10-16.5 kg
Area:

Snout Length: 3.9”-8.3” | 10-21 cm

Scientific Name
Zaglossus bruijnii
Lifespan
12-41 years

Drawings include:

Western Long-Beaked Echidna side view, front

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Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)
Comparison drawing of the Platypus compared to other Monotremes

The Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) has unique features, just like its looks. It is semi-aquatic, lays eggs, can sense prey by electrolocation, and is venomous, especially the males. On appearance, the tail is broad and flat like that of a beaver, their limbs are short, their feet are webbed like those of an otter, and their bill is like a duck’s. The fur on its belly is light brown or silver, while the rest of the body is reddish-brown or dark brown. It is endemic to eastern Australia. The eyes and ears are covered by folds of skin when it hunts for food underwater. The duck-billed platypus is a bottom feeder and lacks teeth. Females lay eggs and nurture their young.

The Platypus has a body length in the range of 15”-24.8” (38-63 cm) and total weight of 1.8-6.6 lb (.8-3 kg). The Platypus has an estimated body height between 3.9”-6.7” (10-17 cm) and body width of 3.5”-6.3” (9-16 cm). The typical lifespan of the Platypus is between 7-21 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the Platypus standing
The Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) has unique features, just like its looks. It is semi-aquatic, lays eggs, can sense prey by electrolocation, and is venomous, especially the males. On appearance, the tail is broad and flat, its limbs short and feet are webbed.

The Platypus has a body length in the range of 15”-24.8” (38-63 cm) and total weight of 1.8-6.6 lb (.8-3 kg). The Platypus has an estimated body height between 3.9”-6.7” (10-17 cm) and body width of 3.5”-6.3” (9-16 cm). The typical lifespan of the Platypus is between 7-21 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the Platypus standing
Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)
Height:
3.9”-6.7” | 10-17 cm
Width:
3.5”-6.3” | 9-16 cm
Length:
15”-24.8” | 38-63 cm (Overall)
Depth:
Weight:
1.8-6.6 lb | .8-3 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Ornithorhynchus anatinus
Lifespan
7-21 years

Drawings include:

Platypus side view, front

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Sir David's Long-Beaked Echidna (Zaglossus attenboroughi)
Comparison drawing of the Sir David's Long-Beaked Echidna compared to other Monotremes

Sir David’s Long-beaked Echidna (Zaglossus attenboroughi) is endemic to New Guinea, especially the forested Cyclops Mountain. It is named to honor the eminent naturalist Sir David Attenborough and is considered the smallest echidna with short rostrums. Besides, it has five claws on each foot, and males have ankles with a small non-venomous spur. Unlike other echidnas, its fur is raw umber brown, distinctive, short, fine, and dense. Sir David’s long-beaked echidna has white spines. Adults have teeth-like spikes instead of real teeth. It is a carnivorous echidna that uses electroreception plus its sense of smell to find food.

The Sir David's Long-Beaked Echidna has a body length in the range of 17.7”-39.4” (45-100 cm) and total weight of 9.25-22 lb (4.2-10 kg). The Sir David's Long-Beaked Echidna has an estimated body height between 11”-25.2” (28-64 cm) and body width of 9.1”-20.9” (23-53 cm). The typical lifespan of the Sir David's Long-Beaked Echidna is between 10-30 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the Sir David's Long-Beaked Echidna
Sir David’s Long-beaked Echidna (Zaglossus attenboroughi) is endemic to New Guinea, especially the forested Cyclops Mountain. It is named to honor the eminent naturalist Sir David Attenborough and is considered the smallest echidna with short rostrums. Besides, it has five claws on each foot.

The Sir David's Long-Beaked Echidna has a body length in the range of 17.7”-39.4” (45-100 cm) and total weight of 9.25-22 lb (4.2-10 kg). The Sir David's Long-Beaked Echidna has an estimated body height between 11”-25.2” (28-64 cm) and body width of 9.1”-20.9” (23-53 cm). The typical lifespan of the Sir David's Long-Beaked Echidna is between 10-30 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the Sir David's Long-Beaked Echidna
Sir David's Long-Beaked Echidna (Zaglossus attenboroughi)
Height:
11”-25.2” | 28-64 cm
Width:
9.1”-20.9” | 23-53 cm
Length:
17.7”-39.4” | 45-100 cm (Body)
Depth:
Weight:
9.25-22 lb | 4.2-10 kg
Area:

Snout Length: 3.9”-9.4” | 10-24 cm

Scientific Name
Zaglossus attenboroughi
Lifespan
10-30 years

Drawings include:

Sir David's Long-Beaked Echidna side view, front

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