Animal Species:Short-beaked Echidna

The Short-beaked Echidna is the only species of echidna in Australia.

Standard Common Name

Short-beaked Echidna

Identification

The Short-beaked Echidna is easily recognised by its sharp spines, short legs and long snout.

Size range

40-55 cm

Similar Species

Long-beaked Echidna (Zaglossus bruijni), is from New Guinea

Distribution

The Short-beaked Echidna is found throughout Australia, including Tasmania. Although it is found all over Australia, it is not as common in Sydney as it once was.

Habitat

The Short-beaked Echidna lives in forests and woodlands, heath, grasslands and arid environments.

Feeding and Diet

Using its pointed snout and sharp claws, the Short-beaked Echidna breaks into ant and termite nests and catches its prey by flicking its long sticky tongue in and out. It also catches a lot of dirt in the process and this is expelled in the droppings.

Life cycle

Like the Platypus, the Short-beaked Echidna is an egg-laying mammal or monotreme and lays one egg at a time. The eggs hatch after about 10 days and the young, emerge blind and hairless. Clinging to hairs inside the mother's pouch, the young echidna suckles for two or three months. Once it develops spines and becomes too prickly, the mother removes it from her pouch and builds a burrow for it. It continues to suckle for the next six months.

Predators, Parasites and Diseases

The Short-beaked Echidna has few natural enemies, but it may be killed by cars, dogs, foxes and occasionally goannas, and cats may take the young.

Classification

Species:
aculeatus
Genus:
Tachyglossus
Family:
Tachyglossidae
Order:
Monotremata
Subclass:
Prototheria
Class:
Mammalia
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

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Tags echidna, platypus, monotremes, mammals, vertebrates, egg-laying, identification, wildlife of sydney,

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