Lactation Patterns Among Orders Monotremata

Monotremes (echidnas, platypus) lay shelled eggs that are incubated for 10 12 days; the young hatch at an extremely undeveloped state.[8] Initially, the mammary glands are simple tubules that produce dilute milk, but as the secretory cells proliferate, they organize into alveoli within discreet mammary lobules. Each lobule drains via a duct onto the skin surface adjacent to an enlarged mammary hair. Milk oozing onto the skin is sucked up by the young. The milk becomes increasingly concentrated over the course of the 6-month lactation. In late lactation, suckling echidnas consume milk equivalent to 10% of body weight at once-daily nursing bouts.[8] As in other mammals with long intersuckling intervals, the milk is high in fat (ca. 30%) in midlactation.

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