Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)
The enigmatic Echidna is typically diurnal and may be crepuscular or nocturnal in hot conditions e.g. hot days in summer. They are more likely active on warm days especially during and after brief rain spells/thunderstorms. Echidnas roam widely and have no permanent shelter as such. They may forage around logs, rocks, buildings in yards and along farm lands. They are drawn to invertebrates especially termites and ants. They have a long tongue and powerful front feet for burrowing and digging out these preferred items. When threatened Echidnas will burrow deep in the soil and become quite difficult to remove. If no soil is available they may wedge themselves against walls and in crevices. They can be seen along road sides, where they can be injured occasionally. Th e wandering wobbly walk seems to draw attention to them on roads. They do not necessarily have a home range but wander unless females have a juggle then they will only wander 2 – 4 days away from the hidden juggle. Finding a juggle is rare usually excavation or dogs unearth them.
There are several sub species and some obvious differences between Tasmanian and mainlands especially. usually dormant in winter they are capable of emerging in spring and wandering up to 90 hectares in range. they do not have territories. Still much to be learnt about Echiddnas.
A terrestrial monotreme. Found across much of Australia. Active mostly, by day or early hot evenings.
A wandering species that forages especially when conditions are warm. Termites, antis and other leaf litter invertebrates’.
Eggs are laid from the cloaca and end up in the pouch! Hatched so called “puggles”. Have no spines, remains in pouch for 4 – 8 weeks. Once covered in spines remain in burrow for 3 months, usually after 12 months they become independent.
Australian sub species
T. a. acanthion Northern Territory and Western Australia
T. a. aculeatus Queensland, New South Wales,
South Australia and Victoria
T. a. multiaculeatus Kangaroo Island, South Australia
T. a. setosus Tasmania and some islands in Bass Strait
(e..g. Flinders Island).
Dealing WIth Echidnas
If you have the blessing to get an Echidna visit, its quite normal for them. they can stay from a day to a week. Please do not translocate them. Females may have a baby nearby in November onwards. Also avoid the idea that a buried Echidna can be dug up. They are tenacious diggers and its very awkward and injuries often occur if people try t dig them up. Echidnas may end up in your yard and after a confrontation with the dog remain buried. this is fine bring the dog in and wait an hour to 3 hours and likely the Echidna will feel safe and wander back off.
If an echidna wanders along a road side the temptation is again to pick up and move. Its best to let nature do its thing. If it helps the Echidna has probably crossed the road many times before safely.
It can happen that an Echidna is mauled by a dog or hit by a car. it is important to place them inside a very secure contains not a box as they can escape and wedge themselves in the car even under the pedals!