Rescued echidnas need to cared for by an experienced carer with the appropriate experience and facilities. They require a very special diet, housing and care.
Basic Initial Care
Echidnas are found in almost every suburb of Adelaide
and the hills. They have even been found in the city
If you see an echidna and it is not injured or in
danger then leave it alone. Echidnas
are great to have living in and around your garden. They
eat termites (white ants) which means your house is more
protected against being demolished by white ants.
When echidnas wake from hibernation they often become
disorientated. Many have been found under carports with a
brick wall and concrete. All they need is to be turned
around and headed back in the right direction. Most have
wandered in from local parks or scrub.
Never remove a healthy echidna from the area in which
it is found. It could be a female echidna with a puggle
in a burrow nearby. If you take the mother away to
relocate in another area her baby will starve to death.
Echidnas have also been known to try and find their way
back home. They then face the risk of having to cross
roads and being hit by cars.
If an echidna is injured and needs rescuing and you
are unable to pick it up due to it digging itself into
the ground, use a fine spray mist bottle to wet it's
head. You will find the echidna will automatically loosen
it's grip in the soil enabling you to pick it up.
Use gardening gloves to protect your hands from the
Never place an echidna in a cardboard box. They will
dig through the cardboard and end up burrowing under the
carpet of your car or house. Use a plastic bucket or
container with high sides as they can also stretch up and
out of a normal bucket. They can also climb up wire
fencing. Never put an echidna into an aviary or cage. As
they climb the wire they can damage their snouts.
The main cause of injury to echidnas is cars. They
are hit crossing roads. We see some that are dog attacks
but as they have sharp spines to protect them, injury by
other predators is not as common.
Injuries we see the most are broken legs after being
hit by cars and injured snouts. Their snouts, legs and
belly are the only areas not protected by spines.
If the snout is badly injured, euthanasia may be the
only option as their snouts are very sensitive and rely
on it to locate food. If the sensors in the snout are
damaged the echidna will die once released .
Echidnas are Monotremes, meaning
"egg laying mammals".
The only other
Australian monotreme is the platypus.
Echnidnas are still mammals meaning they are warm blooded,
have a covering of hair and suckle their young on milk,
but are different to other mammals in that they (like
reptiles) hatch their young from a soft shelled egg.
Echidnas have prickly spines covering their body and
have very strong spade like claws for digging.
A female echidna develops a temporary pouch and the
egg is hatched there. No one has ever worked out how the
mother echidna gets the egg into the pouch but it is
thought that she curls her body in such a way that the
egg is transferred directly into the pouch.
echidna known as a "puggle" is carried in the
pouch until it starts to develop spines. When it becomes
too uncomfortable for the mother echidna to carry anymore
around 4 months of age it is then placed in a burrow dug
by the mother. The burrow is then sealed to protect the
puggle from predators and the mother returns to feed the
baby every 2-3 days. Baby echidnas do not need feeding
Echidnas hibernate in the winter. In hot weather they
forage at night to avoid the heat of the day.
It is common to see echidnas blowing bubbles from
They feed on ants and termites.
When an echidna feels threatened it will roll itself
into a ball and use it's spines for protection or will
dig down into the ground. Once they dig their claws into
the soil you cannot pick them up. Their claws act like
very strong suction cups.
There is no way to sex an echidna other than under
anaesthetic. All sex organs are on the inside of an
echidna. Both male and female have two folds of skin on
the belly of which the female can turn into a temporary