So I shared that Echidnas are special mammals called monotremes. This and how the baby Echidnas (puggles) are hatched not born. In a previous post Why I love Echidnas.
A few more interesting facts about these incredible animals.
They do not have ears.
Echidna unlike humans have no ear flaps, as you can see in the photograph to the left. It has incredible hearing and it also uses eclectroreceptive, which helps to locate objects and food. The electoreceptors are in the Echidnas beak.
Echidnas tiny toothless mouths hold a long thin fast sticky tongue for feeding on ants, termites, and invertebrates.
Echidnas have good sense of smell, poor vision and can feel vibrations so small they can hear termites and ants moving in their nests and underground. All monotremes have electroreceptors, (to perceive natural electrical stimuli) and the short-beaked echidna, which lives in a drier environment, has no more than 400 located at the tip of its snout. (compared to 2000 in long beaked echidna and 40,000 in the Playtpus). Scientists/researchers believe these electroreceptors help to navigate and work out the environment and what is in it surroundings.
Echidnas can swim, and have been filmed in all sorts of locations swimming.
Echindas have a maximum speed of 2.3 kilometres/1.32miles per hour, and have a characteristic waddling gait. I can tell you they can move pretty quickly I have tried to take photos, and they have disappeared off into the bush before I am focused.
When echidnas are active, they spent most of the time digging and looking for food. Compared to many other animals, echidnas have longer activity times, presumably due to the time required to find their food of ants and termites; echidnas eat about 40,000 individual ants and termites a day.
Echidnas spend a similar amount of time foraging in both spring and summer, but during spring they move more slowly and are more likely to ramble, at a leisurely 1 kilometre per hour, from their rest sites to foraging areas. But in summer, they sprint at their top speed directly to and from feeding sites, presumably to minimise activity during hot weather.
“Echidnas are ecosystem engineers”
The considerable time that echidnas spend digging and the area over which they dig means that they act as important “bioturbators”. They turn over the soil which reduces compaction, improves soil mixing and water penetration, incorporates leaf litter and other organic matter into the soil, and reduces run-off and erosion.
Therefore, bioturbators such as echidnas are “ecosystem engineers”. They play a crucial role in the environment as their digging can make for better soils, and in turn influence plant growth and species diversity. source: http://theconversation.com/the-secret-life-of-echidnas-reveals-a-world-class-digger-vital-to-our-ecosystems-67298
They are solitary animals except for when the urge to mate arises. They are not monogamous and the female will mate with several males. The males will smell the female and any that are in the area will make their way to the female, forming a train.
Following her about until she stops, then the males will attempt to mate with her, pulling each other away from the reading I have done one male will win. Male Echindas have spurs on their hind legs. These secrete a milky substance and are used in the breeding season it has been discovered in 2013 by University of Sydney, to mark territory of the males. There is no clear understanding as to whether this marking of territory is as a deterrent for other males who might come near or onto this males territory. Or if the fluid is for letting the female know he is ready to hook up.
“Echidnas are one of the largest hibernators. During hibernation their body temperature falls until it is very close to the temperature of the soil; the lowest body temperature we have recorded is 4.7°C. Hibernation starts in late summer and reproductively active animals end their hibernation in June-July. During the hibernation season echidnas regularly rewarm and may move to another location”. https://www.utas.edu.au/zoology/research/comparative-endocrinology-and-ecophysiology/echidnas-behavioural-thermoregulation-during-hibernation
Echidnas are known to live in captivity for up to 50 years.
“Our Australian echidna at The Zoology Museum Cambridge UK, has a taxidermied echidna on display. To an Australian, the specimen in the museum doesn’t look right. Superficially, it looks like it’s been stuck in a wind tunnel, its spines are too sleek. Whereas if you watch a live echidna, they are round and waddle. But that’s not it. Upon closer inspection, the echidna is anatomically incorrect.- has feet which point in the wrong direction and consequently, rips across the ankles(see photograph on left). Echidnas were so unfamiliar to people in London that the taxidermist didn’t realise that their feet should point backwards. We won’t be correcting this mistake as it forms in Grant Museum of Zoology valuable evidence of the ways these animals were historically understood,” said Jack Ashby, Manager of the Grant Museum of Zoology, part of UCL Culture.
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