What Do I Feed A 5 Week Old Feral Cat Interesting Facts About Echidnas – Characteristics, Diet, Habitat, Breeding, and Predators

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Interesting Facts About Echidnas – Characteristics, Diet, Habitat, Breeding, and Predators

Long beaked and short beaked echidnas are animals with a snout modified to form an elongated beak-like organ. They have no teeth, a long protruding tongue, and in addition to their normal hairs, they have a series of special hairs on their sides and back arranged to form sharp spines. The long-beaked species, with a total length of 45 to 90 centimeters (18 to 35 in) and a weight of 5 to 10 kilograms (11 to 22 pounds) is much larger than the short-beaked species, which is only 30 to 45 centimeters (11 to 18 inches) in length and 2.5 to 8 kilograms (6 to 18 pounds) in weight. In the short-beaked echidna, males are larger than females. In both species, only the male retains a spur on the ankle of each hind leg.

Distribution

The status of the long-billed echidna is disputed because its range is poorly explored. The short-billed echidna is distributed throughout mainland Australia and Tasmania, where its status can be considered common. In Papua New Guinea, it is still considered common in lowland areas, although both species are known to be hunted by humans for food.

Physical properties

Unlike the platypus, the ears and eyes of echidnas are not located in the same groove; the ear opening (with a barely visible external ear) is far behind the eye. When feeding, the snout is used and the tongue is stuck out.

What do Echidnas eat?

The short-billed echidna feeds mainly on termites and ants, although insect larvae are also taken.


It procures ants and termites by excavating mounds, galleries and nests of these insects with the large claws on its front legs. The echidna then collects ants or termites with its sticky tongue.

It can stick its elongated snout into small spaces and protrude its tongue into small cavities to gain access to these insects.

A general term Tachyglossus actually means “quick tongue”. The long-beaked echidna is primarily a worm eater. It uses spines located in a groove in its tongue to draw worms into its mouth. In both species, mucous secretions cause a sticky tongue, and in the absence of teeth, food material is ground up between the spines at the base of the tongue and on the back of the palate.

Are they nocturnal?

Little is known about the activities of the New Guinea echidna, but in Australia echidnas can be active at any time of the day, although they appear less active and remain buried in the soil or shelter under rocks or vegetation in extreme heat or cold. .

They also seem to be less active during rainy weather. Like the platypus, they are unable to tolerate high temperatures and will die of heat stress if shade is not available.


The burrowing ability of the short-beaked echidna is legendary, with individuals able to burrow vertically down into the ground and disappear in less than a minute.

Echidnas body temperature

Echidnas are endothermic and, like platypuses, can regulate their body temperature well above ambient temperature by increasing their metabolism and using insulating fur and fat in the case of echidnas.

In all three monotreme species, the maintained temperature is lower than that of many other mammal species, but is usually maintained within a few degrees D. Parera 32 °C (90 °F) while the animals are active.

The short-beaked echidna is now known to sometimes hibernate for two to three weeks during winter in the Australian Alps, when the body temperature of individuals can drop to 4 to 9 °C (39 to 48 °F).

Breeding season

  • Little is known about the reproductive cycle of the long-beaked echidna. In short-beaked species, a pouch develops during the breeding season, in which one egg is laid.

  • After about 10 days of incubation, the young hatch and are nourished by milk drawn from milk patches in the pouch, nudging the young stimulates the flow of milk.

  • Lactation lasts for up to six months, but once the young begin to grow spines (about nine weeks after hatching), they are left in the burrow, to which the mother returns to feed them.

  • As with the platypus, the breeding season is extended and mating usually occurs in July and August.

  • The length of gestation before the female lays her eggs is not exactly known, but is thought to be about three weeks.

  • Like female platypuses, not all adult females in the short-beaked echidna population breed each year, but the reasons for this are unknown.

How Long Do Echidnas Live? – Average lifespan

Both species of echidna are long-lived. One short-beaked echidna at the Philadelphia Zoo lived to be 49 years old, and a tagged individual in the wild was found to be over 16 years old.

An individual long-beaked echidna survived 31 to 36 years in the Berlin Zoo during both world wars, but nothing is known about the longevity of this species in the wild.

Predators in the wild

Dingoes have been known to prey on echidnas, despite echidnas’ burrowing abilities and their arsenal of barbs. Foxes, feral cats and goannas take young from burrows during the nursing season, but perhaps the biggest factor in mortality is the automobile.

The role of parasites or disease in mortality is largely unknown. Echidnas are easily kept in captivity, but rarely breed successfully in captivity.

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