Echidna

Video highlights from Animal Encounters

Egg-laying mammals are called monotremes. There are only three kinds of monotremes in the world: the long-beaked echidna, short-beaked echidna, and duck-billed platypus.

Echidna
Scientific name:    There are two species of echidna. Family: Tachyglossidae

Facts:

•    The echidna is adapted for very rapid digging, having short limbs and powerful claws. The claws on the hind feet are elongated and curve backwards; to enable cleaning and grooming between the spines. However, despite this, they are infested with what is said to be the world's largest flea -- Bradiopsylla echidnae, which is about 4 mm long.

•    The diet of echidnas is largely made up of ants and termites, although, they will eat other invertebrates especially grubs, larvae and worms. The strong forepaws are used to open up the ant or termite nest and the echidna then probes the nest with its sensitive snout. Any insects in the nest are caught on the echidnas rapidly moving 15 cm tongue which is covered with a layer of sticky mucous, hence the name Tachyglossus meaning 'fast tongue'.

•    Egg-laying mammals are called monotremes. There are only three kinds of monotremes in the world: the long-beaked echidna, short-beaked echidna, and duck-billed platypus.

•    Monotremes' average temperature is several degrees lower than that of most other mammals.

•    An adult female echidna usually lays a single egg once a year. The leathery egg is about the size of a grape. The female rolls the newly laid egg into a deep pocket, or pouch, on her belly to keep it safe. Ten days later the baby echidna, called a puggle, hatches. It is smaller than a jelly bean! The puggle uses its tiny, see-through claws to grip the special hairs within the mother’s pouch. The mother does not have nipples the way other mammals do. Instead, the little puggle laps up milk that the mother’s body secretes from special glands in her pouch.

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