An image of a “baby platypus” has gone viral due to the fact it’s extremely adorable. The reality is, though we’d love it to be real, it’s definitely not a baby platypus.
The original tweet by 660rd, which has since been deleted, received more than 180,000 likes and just shy of 24,000 retweets but if you didn’t read the replies, you might mistake it for the real deal.
why the fuck does a baby platypus look like that pic.twitter.com/VrDudem0kJ
— ً (@660rd) February 15, 2020
Though it’s been deleted, a number of copycat tweets have re-uploaded it, spreading the adorable lie. This is why we can’t have nice things on the internet.
Just in case you needed to see a baby platypus today. I did but didn't even know it. ???? pic.twitter.com/RHPEnm3vuj
— FrogDoc (@TueborFrog) February 13, 2020
The image is actually ripped off ArtStation from Vladimir MatiÄ‡-Kuriljov who says it’s sculpted from polymer clay and painted with acrylics.
Real baby platypuses are still as swoon-worthy but when they’re born, they stay burrowed for the first few months feeding off the mother’s milk until they’re ready to explore the outside world.
“When they hatch they are small, pink and wrinkly and resemble a jelly bean. They drink milk from their mum and slowly grow fur and start the process of resembling a furry platypus that we are all familiar with seeing swimming in our rivers,” the Australian Reptile Park’s curator Hayley Shute told Gizmodo Australia over email.
“They are born with their bill but it doesn’t quite look like one because of the colour and size.”
During this time, according to a Healesville Sanctuary zookeeper, they grow from the size of a jelly bean to about half the size of a fully-grown adult ” about 20 to 30 centimetres long for males and between 18 and 27 centimetres for females.
A platypus expert from Cesar Australia, Josh Griffiths, told Gizmodo Australia because of that initial burrowing period, images of what baby platypuses look like are scarce and how they develop isn’t well known.
“Very little is known about young platypus in the burrow,” Griffiths said to Gizmodo Australia in an email.
“Essentially after hatching as tiny pink jellybeans, they remain entirely within the burrow with their mother ” who will increasingly venture out to forage ” for 3 to 4 months. When they emerge, they are about three-quarters grown. There is very little footage or images of baby platypuses.”
Shute echoed this explaining it’s too dangerous for them to leave the burrow. A pink jellybean would be an enticing treat for many predators in the platypus’ natural habitat.
“They would quickly be eaten if they were out in the open and it is unnecessary for them to venture out as all they need is within the burrow, warmth, food and protection from predators. They have no fur and so the burrow (and with mum’s help) helps them thermoregulate,” Shute said.
“It is impossible to see platypus before they venture from their burrow for the first time unless there is damage to the burrow and they are accidentally exposed.”
Despite the limited amount of images available, some have taken to Twitter to set the record straight once and for all with varying results.
That’s an echidna, a baby platypus looks like this pic.twitter.com/8YYHBish2I
— Slurinda (@slurindaa) February 17, 2020
While the jellybean platypus will remain a mystery for many of us, Zoos Victoria has a video available of some four-month-old platypuses to help educate the internet. As seen in the video, they are very dissimilar to the clay sculpture in the original tweet. It serves as a reminder not to believe everything you see on the internet ” even the painfully cute things.
This article has been updated since its original publication.