Scotland

Scotland
Scotland

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

ABC Wednesday, E for Echidna

This is the photo I took in the zoo of Tasmania.
 
Photographer Steve Parish

















Photo from Wikipedia




Wikipedia says:

"The Echidna (or Spiny Ant-eater) and the Platypus are the only two surviving monotremes, a primitive link between the reptiles and the other more advanced mammals. Like the Platypus, the Echidna lays eggs.
Echidnas are widely distributed throughout Australia, and New Guinea. In Australia they live in a variety of habitats, from dry deserts to humid rainforests or in the Australian Alps.
 

There are several kinds of spiny ant-eater. A short-beaked species with strong and numerous spines is widely distributed throughout the mainland. The Tasmanian species is larger and more hairy. 

 They look like a hedgehog or porcupine but are not related. Echidnas grow up to 50cm (20") in length. Their backs and sides are covered with spines and coarse hair. They have small eyes and the ears have no outer part, being mere vertical slits. It has a long, black, tubular snout with a small mouth and long narrow, sticky tongue to gather up their food. The nostrils are at the tip of the snout. It has no teeth. The Echidna has short strong feet with sharp claws. It waddles when it walks. The male is larger than the female and has a spur on the ankle of the hind leg, however there is no functional poison gland. It is a useful means of distinguishing between the sexes.
 

Echidnas are solitary and restricted to a home range. They rest in hollow logs, under stones, clumps of vegetation or in short burrows. Unlike other Australian mammals, it can be seen during the daytime. Their pattern of activity appears to be influenced by the temperature, and they may be active by day or by night. In the hotter parts of the continent they tend to be nocturnal. They are rarely seen during winter.
 

The Echidna is not an aggressive animal.
 

The short-beaked Echidna eats ants and termites, the New Guinea species eats worms. The short-beaked Echidnas living in arid areas may fast for weeks when there is a shortage of insect food.
 

The spiny ant-eater has remarkable defensive ability when it feels threatened. It rolls itself into a ball, with prickly spines out to protect its soft under-parts, and can dig itself into sand or earth with a great rapidity. If disturbed, the Echidna's instant reaction is to burrow straight downwards. Once half buried, with the massive claws of its incredibly strong limbs hooked under roots or rocks, it is almost impossible to lift up or turn over.
 


Man is the only natural predator of these mammals, though they are increasingly falling prey to feral cats and dogs.
Echidnas in captivity have lived for up to fifty years."

The only echidna I saw was in this zoo on Tasmania, but my daughter saw many of them while walking on the beach. 

 We thank Denise Nesbitt, who created ABC, and we must thank Roger too for the weekly job to find  ten bloggers for each of the ABC Team members  to visit and to read their posts. For more interesting ABC posts click on the logo in the sidebar . This week we are looking for words    beginning with E , in our new round.



30 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

That is one funny-looking creature!

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

anthonynorth said...

Never heard of this one. Interesting post.

Leslie: said...

I thought right off it looked like a hedgehog. Fascinating information about an animal I know nothing about. Thanks for sharing this, Wil

Leslie
abcw team

Spiderdama said...

Interesting post and I learn something new from your E!:-)

MERYL JAFFE, PhD - parent, psychologist, teacher, author... said...

Fascinating how they look so similar to porcupines but are not related...Wonderful post. Have a great week.

Sylvia K said...

How interesting, Wil!! Never heard of this one either! Great captures! Thanks for sharing! I always love learning something new!! Great post for the day!! Have a a lovely week!

Luna Miranda said...

i was amazed the first time i saw this creature on TV (Animal Planet), especially when it rolled itself into a ball.:p

E is for...

Dina said...

Those monotremes are so cute.
My Aussie grandkids' favorite stuffed toy for cuddling in bed was an echidna.

The Weaver of Grass said...

What a sweet creature and how like a hedgehog Wil. I had never heard of it before.

Marleen said...

Wat een bijzonder dier! Interessant om over te lezen.

photowannabe said...

I thought this was a hedgehog myself.
These creatures certainly are strange and exotic looking. Thank you for all of the information.

Carol L McKenna said...

Fascinating post and wonderful photography of nature's gem ~

Carol of (A Creative Habor) on blogger ^_^

Kay said...

They sure do have the most interesting animals Down Under. I've never been to Tasmania, but now you've peaked my interest.

ChrisJ said...

My first thought was that it was a hedgehog, but then I remembered the echidna. I loved your introduction to the letter E.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

You added to my vocabulary and knowledge of nature today! I had never heard of this little guy! How interesting he is. Thanks!

Hildred said...

What a lot of wonderful information you have packed into your interesting post, Wil, - very appealing shy look about them, at least in the one photo.

Shady Gardener said...

What an interesting post! Isn't the variety of wildlife in this world amazing?

LONDONLULU said...

It seems such a sweet animal and not too well known either (I saw it on a David Attenborough special) - love seeing it highlighted here!

ladyfi said...

What a lovely and unusual animal.

lotusleaf said...

How lucky for your daughter to have seen echidnas in the wild! Thanks for the informative and interesting article.

Rajesh said...

Wonderful. My son is learning about this animal in the school. Thanks for sharing.

Gerald (Hyde DP) said...

an elegant animal

Carver said...

Fascinating post. I have never seen one of them and didn't know much about them either.

Jesh St Germain said...

Very interesting, Wil! Isn't it enriching to be in other cultures than our own!

Gattina said...

It's such a funny looking animal. I only knew it under the name ant eater, but I have seen it only in a zoo.

LONDONLULU said...

P.S. Just dropping by quickly again - I love David Attenborough's documentaries too! You might enjoy this YouTube clip about his life, if you haven't already seen, cheers!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFiHzw-Iui8

Chubskulit Rose said...

I have never seen one like that before!

Catching up with ABC Wednesday entries on Valentine's day!

I hope you'd come and check out my Eskimo

Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

Nora at Island Rambles said...

This is a new one for me, I like all the info abut the little creature Echidna...I wonder how tame they would be. cheers.

zongrik said...

such a unique creature

epideictic rhetoric

LONDONLULU said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed the Attenborough YouTube clip!