The Echidna has a slender snout and long, flicking tongue, ideal for catching insects. The Echidna also has distinctive sharp spines (quills) along its back and sides for protection against predators. When threatened, the Echidna will curl inwards, leaving only their sharp spines exposed.
Found throughout Australia, the Echidna is a highly adaptable creature and can be found in coastal forests, alpine meadows and interior deserts. The Echidna has the widest distribution of any native Australian mammal.
Echidnas have no teeth! They live on a very specific diet of termites, ants and other soil invertebrates, especially beetle larvae. They have very strong claws in which to break open rotting logs to collect termites.
The Echidna's breeding season occurs between July and August. After mating the male and female go their separate ways. Four weeks later the female lays a single egg into a simple pouch on her abdomen. Ten days later the baby Echidna hatches and starts to lap up milk from its mother. Baby Echidnas start life without hair or quills but will eventually grow these. When the young is too prickly to carry, the mother will dig a burrow for it. The young is weaned at about 7 months of age.
Short-beaked Echidna Profiles
Alberta, aka Fat Albert or Fatty Boomsticks, is a favourite with all the keepers.
At feed time she is sure to greet you with her long slimy tongue flickering and is always the first to get stuck into her tucker! The keepers at Australia Zoo like to bond as much as possible with the animals we care for, and Fatty seems to thrive on it. Whenever her keepers get in the enclosure, be it feed time, cleaning or just doing a little maintenance, Fatty will always come to say hi.
Echidnas are usually very shy and timid and stick there quills out and curl up into protective mode at the first hint of noise or movement - but not our Fatty. She is quite inquisitive and doesn't mind getting the odd pat. Now believe it or not, Echidnas are quite proficient swimmers and guess who uses our pond more than anyone else does?... Yep you guessed it, Fatty Boomsticks!
Dame is a much loved character by all the keepers. Full of what seems like boundless energy, inexhaustible curiosity and by far the sweetest little face you have ever seen, you can't help but fall in love with him.
A typical day for Dame includes eating as much yummy ants and termites he can find crawling around his enclosure, meeting lots of new people along the wall of his enclosure and posing for lots of photos (Dame sure loves his photo shoots), but his favorite part of the day is the Spiky Little Echidna Encounter! During Encounters, not only does Dame get to make some new friends but he even gets to sit on their lap while they hand feed him deliciously gooey, slimy echidna food! Whoo-hoo!
After an Encounter, Dame will often huddle up with the rest of his echidna mates and take a nap, or if it's a hot day he might even go for a dip in his special echidna swimming pool.
Prickle is a very special little echidna. Every week the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital receives hundreds of animal rescue calls, and this is how Prickle came to live with us at Australia Zoo.
Prickle was diagnosed with Chlamydia, which left her with permanent eye damage and unable to be released back to the wild.
Prickle loves her home at Australia Zoo and all the other echidnas that she lives with!