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Short-beaked Echidna

A Short-beaked Echidna searching for food on leafy ground

Mainland

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Scientific Name: Tachyglossus aculeatus

Size: 300-450 mm

What does it look like?

The Short-beaked Echidna has pale brown to blackish fur above and below, which varies in length depending on range, and numerous protective spines on upper body, from back of neck to tail. Snout long and cylindrical, covered with sensitive skin, with nostrils and small mouth at tip.

Where is it found?

Australia-wide, including major islands.

What are its habitats & habits?

The Short-beaked Echidna is found in a variety of habitats, from wet forests to deserts, where it is mostly crepuscular and nocturnal, although active during the day in cooler areas. Feeds on ants, termites and other invertebrates, using its sharp, powerful claws to dig through soil or rotting vegetation and rip open mud nests or fallen timber, collecting any exposed prey using its long, sticky tongue. A single soft-shelled egg is incubated in a small temporary pouch on the female’s belly, which hatches after around 10 days, and the young ‘puggle’ is carried in its mother’s pouch for up to 2 months.

Interesting facts

If threatened, will curl into a loose ball or dig itself into the ground, leaving only the sharp spines exposed.

Also known as: Spiny Anteater

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A Naturalist's Guide to the Mammals of Australia front cover

This species features in my book A Naturalist’s Guide to the Mammals of Australia

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