The Profoundly Upsetting Truth About Platypuses

Milky boy. Photo: Getty Images

Look, I’m sorry to do this to you, but I refuse to stay silent any longer. I lived in the dark for so many years. I was happy then, splashing around in the cold, dank recesses of my own ignorance. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and so what I didn’t know couldn’t hurt me. And then, a few weeks ago, when I finally saw the glaring light of the truth, it was so blinding and terrible that I yearned to return to the shadows, where I had been safe. But I couldn’t go back. A terrible piece of knowledge had permanently severed me from my past, and now, because hurt people hurt people, I must share it with you as well. Here it is.

Platypuses don’t have nipples, so they just sweat milk.

Platypuses sweat milk!


I came across this fact by accident, when it was mentioned offhand in a book I was reading. Immediately, I threw the book down and Googled, “Platypuses sweat milk?” Here, an explanation from the BBC’s Science Focus:

They secrete milk from specialised mammary glands, just like humans and other mammals. But platypuses don’t have teats, so the milk just oozes from the surface of their skin. This makes it look like sweat, but in fact platypuses are aquatic and don’t produce regular sweat at all.

And here, a video about platypuses that includes an absolutely chilling graphic of a beautiful mother platypus leaking her milk all over her tummy while a little baby platypus in a backward baseball cap laps it up.


I don’t know, man. It just sucks how one day you’re living your life, minding your own business, and then the next thing you know, your mind is full of images of little, freshly hatched platypuses slurping up the milky sweat oozing from their mother’s furry stomach, coating it a wet, creamy film. It sucks how, as soon as you learn this, you have to tell everyone you know, and then they ask you to stop talking about it because it’s “upsetting,” and you try to stop, you really do, but then you can’t help yourself and you’re like, “According to the BBC, because this delivery system is less hygienic than the direct nipple-in-mouth method, platypus milk contains powerful antibacterial proteins to protect the babies from illness, and these proteins may be a useful source of future antibiotics,” and then all of your friends get mad at you.

I don’t want to shame the platypuses out there, who are otherwise very cute and interesting. I think it’s so cool how they look like a mix of a beaver and a duck, and how they use electroreception to hunt, and that the male’s little ankle spurs are venomous. That all rules. But the oozing milk sweat is just a bridge too far for me. I feel worse for knowing about it, and I wish I didn’t. But if I have to carry this burden of knowledge, everyone I encounter will have to share that burden with me, which is why I’m writing this post. Again, I’m sorry.

The Profoundly Upsetting Truth About Platypuses