Short-beaked Echidna

Short-beaked Echidna

Check out Australia Zoo’s Short-beaked Echidnas!

Here at Australia Zoo we LOVE our short-beaked echidnas.  In fact, they are Bindi’s all-time favourite animal! Did you know echidnas are an an egg-laying mammal?  That’s right, they are one of just two monotremes, the other being the platypus.  They are very different to a porcupine – porcupines are actually rodents whereas the echidna is an ancient type of marsupial.  Additionally, echidna cannot eject their spines where as a porcupine can.

 

Keep your eyes peeled for our gorgeous echidnas out and about with our Wandering Wildlife Team.  You might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of their impressive 18 centimetre tongue, which is ideally designed for their diet of insects and worms.

 

Echidna looking to the right up close with quills in detail.

 

Echidnas are found all over Australia, including Tasmania.  They have adapted to thrive in many harsh, Australian environments.  They have a spiky exterior consisting of spines made from keratin – the same stuff as our hair and fingernails!  These spines are perfect for protecting themselves against potential predators.  Echidnas are preyed upon by foxes, goannas and feral cats.  If under attack or feeling threatened, the echidna will roll into a ball, protecting their body with those sharp spines.  The echidna will use their powerful feet and claws to dig into the earth, leaving only their spiky exterior revealed.  Crikey! It’s genius!

 

Echidna with tongue reaching for food facing the camera.

 

Being a monotreme, the echidna lays one egg at a time.  The egg will hatch after approximately 10 to 14 days and the young (called a puggle) will emerge hairless, blind and smaller than a 10 cent piece.  Clinging to hairs inside the mother’s pouch, the puggle will suckle for up to three months.  At around 60 days old the echidna begins to develop spines and quickly becomes too prickly to remain in its mother’s pouch.  Mum will then build a burrow for it as it continues to suckle and grow.

 

Bindi Irwin holding up an echidna.

 

Echidnas have a long lifespan of 30 to 40 years in the wild, and up to 50 years in zoos!  We are lucky enough in Australia to still have many echidnas living throughout our varied environments, so it’s not that uncommon to see them and they are super special to experience in the wild.  Woo-hoo!

  • Class of animal icon
    Class

    Mammalia

  • Genus of animal icon
    Genus

    Tachyglossus

  • Species of animal icon
    Species

    aculeatus

  • height of animal icon
    Size

    40 - 55 centimetres

  • weight of animal icon
    Weight

    2 - 5 kilograms

  • diet of animal icon
    Diet

    Carnivore

  • gestation of animal icon
    Incubation

    10 -14 days