Friday, January 21, 2011

Echidna on Bruny Island

Echidnas are only found in Australia & in the highlands of New Guinea. Echidnas live in relative peace on Bruny Island & can regularly be seen ambling about at an incredibly slow pace.

Together with the platypus, echidnas are the world's only monotremes, or egg-laying mammals. There are two species of echidnas, one which can only be found in the highlands of New Guinea, and one which lives in Australia and New Guinea.

Echidnas are frequently spotted roaming along the roads in Adventure Bay on Bruny Island. I have seen rows of cars banked up waiting for these little creatures to cross the street.

According to the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife literature Tasmanian bred Echidnas are said to be bigger than those living on the mainland. Adult Echidnas generally weigh approx between 4 & 5 kilos for females & approx 6 kilos for males.

Echidnas rely heavily on their snouts. The entire length of an Echidas whole body is in the range of 35 to 53 cm long while it’s snout comes in at a whopping 7 to 8 cm.

With a keen sense of smell, an echidna uses its long, hairless snout to search for food. The strong forepaws are used to open up the ant or termite nest and the echidna then probes the nest with its sensitive snout. The snout stiffens in order to facilitate this job. The Echidna uses it’s long sticky tongue to ensnare the termites then grinds them between its tongue & the bottom of it’s mouth as the Echidna has no teeth.

The spines on an Echidna are actually modified or evolved thick prickly bristle like hairs & grow to around 50mm in length.

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