Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Only in Australia (and and a small part of New Guinea)

The Short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), generally just called the echidna by most people, can be found over all of Australia and small parts of New Guinea.  Some people from outside of the the Australian region may have been introduced to this animal as a Spiny Anteater.  However, this animal is not closely related to true anteaters, and it has an unusual biology.

The Short-beaked echidna is a type of mammal known as a monotreme - an egg laying mammal.  Probably the most famous other monotreme is the Platypus.  So, the echidna lays eggs which after ten days in a pouch hatches and starts to feed on milk produced by the female.  This gives rise to the joke that monotremes can make their own custard, as they produce both milk and eggs!

We saw a good number of these remarkable creatures in Tasmania, most often just feeding on roadside verges.  This individual seemed to be very settled as we drove past, so we went back for a better look.

You can see the face of the animal here, with its long nose that is used to find and eat ants.  You can also see its classic defence posture - ie dug into the ground with its spines bristling!

What a great animal.







More pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.  SM


12 comments:

David Gascoigne said...

Just one of the reasons Australia is so fascinating to those of us who do not live there - not that it is any less fascinating to residents, but at least you have the advantage of familiarity. I saw an echidna in Canberra when I visited in 1999, but despite several searches in areas recommended by locals I failed to locate a platypus.

Richard Pegler said...

What a totally gorgeous creature, Stewart! Thank you for showing us your delightful images. I love the symetry in the last one. Best wishes from a cold UK - - - Richard

Lady Fi said...

Awww - so adorable.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
What a great series of shots! They are adorable, aren't they?! YAM xx

Fun60 said...

Had to go to Sydney zoo to see one of these. Your photos are brilliant Stewart.

Marie Smith said...

What a great animal indeed!

Betty Crow said...

A very interesting animal. Sort of reminds me of our porcupine, but much smaller.

Missy George said...

Looks like a mini porcupine...kinda cute..wonderful photos..Hope you are having a good week.

Beth said...

What an amazing animal!

Breathtaking said...

Hello Stewart!:) Again, a most amazing creature, with a cute face and a splendid defence system.

Lea said...

Great photos of an unusual animal!
Hope you are having a wonderful week!

Rhodesia said...

I saw them when we were with my SIL in Sydney. They are so cute and I love that long nose. My all time favourite though over there was the platypus, I fell in love. :-) Cheers Diane