Animal Species:Short-beaked Echidna
The Short-beaked Echidna is the only species of echidna in Australia.
Standard Common Name
The Short-beaked Echidna is easily recognised by its sharp spines, short legs and long snout.
Long-beaked Echidna (Zaglossus bruijni), is from New Guinea
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.
The Short-beaked Echidna lives in forests and woodlands, heath, grasslands and arid environments.
Winter isn't a good time to see an echidna as many enter torpor during the colder months. Dropping their body temperatures below 10 degrees celsius and breathing just once every three minutes, they greatly reduce their metabolic rate. Every few weeks their temperature slowly rises to normal as they stir to eliminate waste, and perhaps have a drink, before returning to torpor. As the warmer weather returns, so does the echidna's food supply and the sleepy monotremes fully awaken to set about replenishing their fat stores.
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.
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.
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