The Short-Beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) is a medium-sized monotreme (egg-laying) mammal. It is also called the Short-Beaked Spiny Anteater.
The Short-Beaked Echidna is a stocky animal with a heavy coat of black or brown fur and spines (modified hairs). It looks similar to a Hedgehog. It has a straight beak with a long sticky tongue. The beak acts as a nose and a mouth. It does not have teeth. It has short legs with sharp, curved claws. The male Echidna has venomous spurs on its hind (back) feet.
It grows to 30-45 centimetres (12-18 inches).
The Short-Beaked Echidna is native throughout Australia and New Guinea. It is found in forests and woodlands. It prefers hollow logs, underbrush, and caves, where it seeks shelter. It digs burrows with its claws.
It eats ants, termites, and other invertebrates, such as worms, centipedes and millipedes. It finds its food in leaf litter on the forest floor.
The Short-Beaked Echidna is a good swimmer.
The Platypus and the Echidna are the only mammals that lay eggs. The female Echidna lays one egg and puts it in her pouch. The egg takes 10 days to hatch. The baby echidna, called a puggle, sucks milk from its mother while it is in her pouch for 45-55 days.
When the puggle becomes independent, its mother digs a burrow and places her young in it. The puggle stays in the burrow for up to a year before leaving.
The average lifespan of an Echidna in the wild is estimated to be 14–16 years.
Location of photographs: Taronga Zoo, Sydney, Australia
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM