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Echnidnas

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 centre.

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.

EchidnaWhen 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 spines.

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 .


About Echidnas

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 puggleThe baby 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 every day.

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 their nostrils.

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 pouch.

Echidna drawing

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