Echidna

Echidna, Kangaroo Island, Australia

Echidna, Kangaroo Island, Australia

Australia has some of the strangest and most divine creatures on this planet.  The day I got to see an echidna was a thrill.

 

The short-beaked echidna is a monotreme, meaning it is a mammal that lays eggs.  There are only two kinds of monotremes in the world:  the echidna and the platypus.  They both live in Australia and nearby New Guinea, and I am happy to report I have seen both.  (I have written about the delightful platypus in earlier posts.  Click here to read Chasing a Platypus.)

 

The day I saw the echidna was one of my first days in Australia.  A ranger in the park, where it looked like we were the only humans within 50 miles, had told us to go to the Black Swamp if we wanted to see a platypus.  We spent most of the searingly hot day at this swamp, but never saw a platypus.  Then on the hike back, with no animals or humans in sight, we heard a disturbing rustle at our feet.  Fortunately we remained quiet and just stepped back.  Then out waddles this spiky little brown ball.

 

Common throughout Australia, Tachyglossus aculeatus are no longer than 18 inches long and weigh less than ten pounds. The entire body is covered with spines (except for its underside and face).  Each spine is 1-2 inches long, and used in defense.  They have strong little legs for burrowing into hibernation; and a long, sensitive snout for finding food.  Sometimes called spiny anteater, they eat ants, termites and beetle larvae, and use their sticky tongue to lick them up.  To read more about this unusual animal, click here. 

 

I went back to “Oz” again years later, and overall I have spent six weeks here, but I never came across another echidna.  Fortunately the few minutes I had with this special creature were savored and celebrated, before he waddled away.

 

Photo credit:  Athena Alexander

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43 thoughts on “Echidna

  1. Such a special and unique creature, the echidna! Didn’t see one on Kangaroo Island but saw some at Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria, not too far from Melbourne. Great read, Jet and thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • I was hoping to hear if anyone else had seen an echidna. Thanks for letting me know where and how you saw them, Iris, and yes, they are very unique. Always a treat to hear from you. 😀

    • Leave it to the Land Down Under to conjure up a species that is unknown to a world traveler like you, Cindy. I’m delighted I could introduce you to this spiky-but-still-loveable creature. 😀

  2. Isn’t the Echidna incredible? Not long after we moved into our last home in Australia, we were amazed to see an Echidna venture down to our stream. Like you it was our first and last time of seeing this little guy but at least we had a time!

  3. Nice post Jet! Australia has a plethora of species of animals that are unique and the most intriguing naturally. The Echidna is one of them! Thanks! 🙂

    • Dear Amy, it is such an honor to share the wildlife with friends like you who are open to learning more. Thanks so much for your visit today. I really enjoyed your humpback post today. 😀

  4. Interesting post indeed,dear Jet!I have just come back from the Platypus post,which I enjoyed too.The little Echidna creature reminds me of the hedgehog in appearance.I’m a bit mystified though with the onomatology.Platypus means that it has very big flat feet,did you see them?I’m sure you know the word platypodia=splayfoot,as you can see they come from the same root (platypus,platypodia).But what really astonishes me,is the word Echidna,which is also a very Greek word.Echidna is the venomous snake (adder or viper).I really wonder why they gave the little cute creature the name of a snake.I found in Wiki that indeed,it was named after the Greek mythological monster … If you have the time,have a quick look at this links:

    http://www.theoi.com/Ther/DrakainaEkhidna1.html
    ( Poisonous Snake,
    Viper (ekhidna)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echidna_%28mythology%29
    Echidna, a monotreme mammal of Australia and New Guinea named after the mythological monster.

    It’s a small world where we share loans and anti-loans and false-friend words …
    If I had ever found the word Echidna,without a photo provided,I would never bother to look it up in a dictionary … You see how many things I learn in your magnificent posts Jet 🙂 xxx

    • And so much I learn from you! I enjoyed both links, Doda, and very much appreciate your research. My mythology expertise is very weak, so I, too, wonder why the flesh-eating snake is associated with this, and the she-dragon as well. Your incredible knowledge of word origins always pushes me to the next level, and I really like that. Thank you, dear Doda! 😀

  5. What a pity 😦 I had just left a very long comment and it disappeared … Oh gosh,something goes wrong tonight…
    If you read my answer to your lovely comment on my pink roses,you’ll see that it arrived as Spam and I had to unspam it to show properly under my post.Sorry for bagging you with all these malfactions,dear friend Jet 🙂 xxx

    • Yes, although they are not related, they are reminiscent of a hedgehog. And I agree with you: fascinating creature! Great to hear from you as usual, Takami; I hope you are having a great day. 😀

  6. When I was a kid several years, er decades ago, I collected ‘world wildlife’ cards from packets of Lyons Tea. The Echidna was one of them, and it fascinated me. I don’t think I have heard or seen the word or pics of one since I was ten… And OMG Jet – I’ve just found the card in an old box of tea cards… (kept for children / grandchildren, obviously!) RH

    • I absolutely LOVED this story RH. I’m delighted the echidna has surfaced again in your life. I’m also glad to see that you still have a world of wildlife in your adult years in Abaco. Many thanks, RH. 😀

  7. Loved your post, I always love seeing Echidna, I use to have one living nearby in the country. As for the Platypus, many people, especially tourists are disappointed when trying to view this creature as it is nocturnal, and very shy. Tasmania is a great place to see them as there are few predators, as is Kangaroo Island. The best viewing time is not in the heat of the day, but dusk and dawn when they feed and move about from dam to dam, dragging their tail behind them. I was very blessed some weeks ago in Canberra at Tidbinbilla NR where one actually was moving about feeding in the middle of the day, this is completely out of character. I have a couple of shots in that blog. Thanks for sharing!

    • I was delighted to receive your comment, ab, on platypus and echidna. Your info was precisely what a guide, who we eventually hired, told us too; so thank you for the accurate info. How very wonderful to know, too, that you saw a platypus in Canberra recently. So glad to hear from you, and look forward to more exchanges about awesome Australia. 😀

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