Short-Beaked Echidna

ANIMAL:
Short-Beaked Echidna Tachyglossus aculeatus

Type of Animal:
Echidna

Habitat:
Meadows, heathlands, forests, woodlands, desert, mountains (to above snowline), savanna, grasslands, shrubland, scrub, beaches, coasts, semidesert, agricultural land, rocky outcrops, dunes, highlands, suburban areas, bushland, urban outskirts, basically all habitats in range

Location(s):
Australia, Tasmania, parts of New Guinea

Appearance:
Most of body covered in cream-colored spines except for underside/face/legs, fur ranges from honey to dark reddish-brown to black, coloration varies based on location/subspecies, Tasmanian echidnas smaller, looks like giant hedgehog or porcupine, sometimes called spiny anteater due to diet/appearance, short limbs, wedge-shaped snout

Food/Diet:
Ants, termites, insect larvae, worms, grubs, beetles, moth larvae

Status in Wild:
Stable

Conservation:
Breeding in zoos & wildlife parks

Lifestyle:
Solitary

Additional Info:

Called:
Male
Female
Young: Puggle
Group: Solitary
 
Weight:
Male: 10-13 lbs
Female: 4.4-9.9 lbs
Young: 10 oz

Gestation:
1 month

Life Span:
15 years in wild, up to 50 years in captivity

Height:
Male: 1.5 ft
Female: 1 ft

Body Length:
Male: 1.5-1.75 ft
Female: 1 ft

Tail Length:
0.4 in, same for both sexes

Main predators of adults are dingoes, foxes, goannas, eagles, dogs, cats, & Tasmanian devils. Pigs & snakes prey on young.
 
Avoids predators by curling into ball.
 
During mating period, they give off strong musky odor.
 
During courtship, trains of up to 10 males follow single female in ritual that can last for up to a month.
 
Females lay single egg per mating season.
 
Extremely difficult to breed in captivity.
 
They have a very slow metabolism.
 
To feed young milk, they have special glands in pouch called milk patches secreting milk.
 
Backwards curving claws help w/ digging.
 
While they lack teeth, they have horny pads in mouths & on backs of tongues to grind food.
 
They can feel vibrations through noses.
 
They have extra-long claw on 2nd toe used to groom spines.

Fun Fact(s):
They host 1 of world’s largest fleas (echidna flea), which can be up to 0.15 in.
 
Tachyglossus means “fast tongue.”
 
Males have 4-headed penis-during mating, 2 heads shut down while other 2 grow bigger to fit into female’s 2-branched reproductive tract.
 
1 of only 5 mammal species to lay eggs-all being from order of egg-laying mammals called Monotremes.
 
Puggles hatch size of jellybean but grow rapidly.
Short-beaked echidna, stock photo

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