Echidna excitement

I wanted to say it amazes me how just writing about the things that impact my mental illness in an everyday way helps so much. I do not know if anyone else with CPTSD fixates on a thing, and it gets in to you, that you find it almost impossible to let it go. For me writing about my experience with benefits from the Government has let me let it go. Such a positive. It is all in hand I have an appointment with my social worker, and GP so all it under some control and I have asked for help. A massive thing for me. I feel good about it all and quite hopeful. Sigh.

Along with my writing I do find spending time at home and in my garden is the best thing for me. I am trying really hard to let go of all the mess, and delight in all the positives. I am doing well at this. Everything is on a list. Yet I can not have more that one list or I become overwhelmed.

This in itself is important. I have to have a list. It is on my fridge. I mean written on my fridge in a marker, a perfect white board. My psychologist has helped me note that when I am really overwhelmed I begin many many lists. So in simplifying only the major things, on one list. I will not forget any of them. There is no time line for completion and I do not get fixated, or overwhelmed. As my mantra these days is I am content with the discontent. Strange as it seems, but just saying this to myself is such a help.

As I wrote this I heard Busby barking in the paddock. I looked out and saw this,

At first I thought oh NO he has killed a small animal. Then as I moved down towards him I tell him to leave it, and then I see this. Yes in the second photo below the white on the echidnas back is where Busby has attempted to grab the echidna. Echidna 1 (thankfully ) Busby nil. It is so hard for Busby as he is a mixed breed dog. Staffie x,with ridgeback x with boxer. All breeds that make him protective and aware of things that do not live in our home. He was very gentle with foster kittens, and cats, along with other dogs and puppies I fostered. He was fine with some orphaned rabbit kittens, but not with those in their hutches..outside big ones. It is so hard with the genetics. He is improving as he comes away now.

Echidnas have no fixed address they are wanderers and will move around a pretty large area on the mainland in Southern Queensland the organisation Land For Wildlife says that a territory can be up to 50 Hectares/123.553acres though territories can cross.

They find each other using sense of smell.

Apparently our Tasmanian echidnas are bigger than mainland Australia Echidnas.

I have talked about how echidnas form a connection with a male, the following video shows you how Echidnas mate. It is a video from National Geographic, Youtube. https://youtu.be/frZGhk0i228

echidna train.

It is also delightful to actually see how these awesome animals get around. They are not slow moving all the time, and are great at climbing up and over things.

They weigh between 2 and 5 kgs/4.41lb- 11.02lbs. quite a range in size. They have lower body temperature than other mammals, 31-32dC / 87.8-89.6dF.

If disturbed, echidnas will usually lower the head, and with vigorous digging, sink rapidly into the ground leaving only the spines exposed. On hard surfaces they will curl into a ball — presenting defensive spines in every direction. They are also capable of wedging tightly into crevices or logs by extending their spines and limbs.

Echinda Hind Foot

The echidna is adapted for very rapid digging, having short limbs and powerful claws. The claws on the hind feet are elongated and curve backwards; to enable cleaning and grooming between the spines. However, despite this, they are infested with what is said to be the world’s largest flea — Bradiopsylla echidnae, which is about 4 mm long. (https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au).

Whilst both the male platypus and echidna both have spurs on their hind feet the echidnas is not functioning and is blunt unlike the platypus which has a sharp spur with functioning venom glands.

The diet of echidnas is largely made up of ants and termites, although, they will eat other invertebrates especially grubs, larvae and worms. The strong forepaws are used to open up the ant or termite nest and the echidna then probes the nest with its sensitive snout. Any insects in the nest are caught on the echidnas rapidly moving 15 cm tongue which is covered with a layer of sticky mucous, hence the name Tachyglossus meaning ‘fast tongue’. The jaws are narrow and have no teeth so food is crushed between hard pads which lie in the roof of the mouth and on the back of the tongue. Large grubs are squashed and the contents licked up. Echidnas eat a lot of soil and ant-nest material when feeding, and this makes up the bulk of droppings.

I do hope the echidna is eating all the jack jumper ants at my place. I have actually unearthed a few nests of ants in recent weeks, so kind of me to help them find food. In the process I have been bitten by two jack jumpers and they hurt so bad, and inflame and ache for days. One of the hidden joys of gardening. So I am very happy to have them about.

This is the echidna that was disturbed by Busby while crossing the paddock making its escape after I moved Busby away. Miss Treacle and I were able to watch it and I am so chuffed that i got its lovely face. You can also see how dry it has become here.

The echidna in Tasmania is common and widespread. They are less affected by the clearing of land as much as many other native animals as they can live anywhere that there is a supply of ants. Despite their covering of spines they do have natural predators such as eagles and Tasmanian devils which even eat the spines. They were a favourite food of Aboriginal people and early white settlers although they are now wholly protected by law.

blessings Tazzie

Its not just echidnas, what if

Bennets wallaby near my house (c)Echidna Home 2019

This little guy just looked so happy chewing away. It was almost as if it posed for me. It is a Pademelon (Paddy melon) They only grow to about 60cm and weigh about 5kg (enough of the lessons).

I am so privileged to have them visit my place. I used to get annoyed when they would pull the fruit tree branches down and nibble the leaves breaking them, but the trees grew taller, and they couldn’t reach any more.

Kookaburra in my garden (c) Echidna Home 2019

I know it seems a bit surreal to me too. I really live with these guys about too.

I also have Eastern Barred Bandicoots, Quolls, and Tasmanian Devils around. Much harder to obtain photos of these guys I keep trying.

This Echidna was moving along the roadside near my home. (c)Echidna Home 2019
shuffling about under the watttles, looking for food. (c)Echidna Home 2019

My favourite remains the Echidna.

The echidna on the right was across the road from my driveway. They can actually move surprisingly fast.








A shuffling snuffling echidna on the hunt for food crossing through my wattle grove.

Close up of the quills. (c)Echinda Home 2019

Easy access to the next paddock. Through the fence. I am sure it is because it has smelt me or heard me as I try to capture its photo. sigh. I never want to frighten it. I was using a telephoto lens, I reckon it heard me moving about. It decided that heading through the fence was its only option.

Through the fence (c)Echidna Home 2019
If you look you can just make out this guys foot, it looks strange as it faces backwards. (c)Echidna Home 2019
Hiding (c)Echidna Home 2019

As I have written before Echidnas are just amazing and unique mammals. I love th above photo as it shows how well their camouflage is. It looks like sunshine is hitting the grass but its the quills, and you can see its eye.

As I write this the horrific Mainland Bush Fires on the mainland of Australia and Kangaroo Island have cost so many Australian animals, insects bugs, it breaks my heart. I look at the wonderful wildlife that abounds my home and I cant imagine them all gone. The overwhelming knowledge that some may be gone forever. There are so many wonderful people who are out there working to find and help, the wild life carers, the firepeople and vets, farmers, those who are ensuring food and water are left and hoping to capture injured animals to help. The generosity of people all around the world, those that are making pouches and wraps..donated items food and are out gathering leaves and shoots for animals that have none in their locations. The baby wombats who have come out of burrows starving as mum has most likely been killed and not been back to the burrow. It is so so tragic. Of course my heart reaches out to all the people and communities impacted.

Tazzie

Why I love Echidnas!

I love Echidnas! (also known as Spiny ant Eaters colloquially ). I have Echidnas who live and visit my garden and in the surrounding bush. I wanted to share what makes these animals so awesome.

The Long beaked (nose) Echidna found in the Highlands of New Guinea, Indonesian Papua, and the Short beaked (nose)found in Australia. Even though some people call them Spiny ant Eaters they are not related to them at all! Nor to Hedgehogs, Porcupines or Pangolins.

Long Beaked Echidna. are in danger even as they are eaten by indigenous people in the hills of New Guinea and Papua, They are also in danger from deforestation.

The western long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijni), The eastern long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bartoni), Sir David Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus attenboroughi) is one of the three species of the genus Zaglossus. (https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-five-species-of-monotremes-living-today.html) If you wish to know more about the Long Beaked Echidna please look up the link above.

@Echidna Home 2019

The Short Beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) is the smaller of the two. In Tasmania you can often see them especially by the edges of the roads and even crossing the roads. Sadly as they move slowly they do get hit by cars.

I am very fortunate to have at least one living in and about my property. I will go into more about their territory and life in another post.

@Echidna Home 2019
@Echidna Home 2019.

They are amazing and fascinating animals.

Mammals are a diverse group, but all mammals-

  • produce milk to feed their young
  • have hair or fur
  • have a unique jaw structure
  • are warm-blooded

Echidnas are mammals? Yes.

But they have spines (which are actually tough hair folicles). Yes but they also have fur to keep them insulated so in colder regions you will see that Echidnas have longer fur covering some of their spines. If you compare my local Echidna with the picture below of an Echidna from NSW with a warmer climates you can see that it has less fur covering its back. So yes they have fur. Check. You can see more of it in the curled up photo on the right below.

(Tachyglossus aculeatus)
Image: Stuart Humphreys © Australian Museum
A Short Beaked Echidna is pictured with its snout to the surface of a wet rock. Its spines are yellow with a black tip, whilst its snout appears to be a bluish-brown colour. The echidna is an oval shape, with a ball-like appearance.
Image: Kathy Atkinson
© Australian Museum

Mammals are warm blooded, yep Echidnas are warm blooded.

Echidnas and Platypus are Monotremes, they lay eggs and their babies hatch.

Echidnas breed in Winter. Now the mother doesn’t have a pouch all the time. It is pretty amazing how she creates one; she does this by contracting her abdominal muscles which then forms a fold which is secure enough to hold the egg and puggle after hatching. (WIRES Northern Rivers. http://www.wires.org.au) and a single soft shelled egg is laid (like birds and reptiles).

The puggle (a baby Echidna) hatches out of the egg after about 10 days. As it is developing the puggle will grow a tooth structure, like chicks have, known as a ‘egg tooth’ a small sharp structure on a chicks beak to help it break the shell and hatch. Watch the video (below) of a puggle hatching and see if you can spot its egg tooth. Puggles are born blind with no spines or fur and it will be about the size of a jelly bean 1.45cms and can weigh in at as little as 380milligms/0.0134041ozs! (https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/native-animals/native-animal-facts/echidnas)

Echidna pouch after loss of egg or small puggle
@Leoni Byron-Jackson http://www.wiresnr.org/echidna.html
A one month old puggle. It will stay in its mother’s pouch for about two months, spending all of its time lapping up milk and sleeping
© Chris Eastland/ZooBorns 

Since there is no nipple for the puggle to cling too it will cling to its mothers fur about her belly with its front legs that are incredibly developed and strong. but clings with its well developed front legs to the hairs on the mother’s belly.

Mammals feed their young milk. Check.

Whilst most mammals have nipples Monotremes do not. Instead in Echidnas the mother produces milk and it is excreted through the milk patches. Areas of the mothers stomach flat skin on either side of the pouch about where you would find teats or nipples on other mammals. The milk is excreted and the puggle will suckle at the patches not lick them. Patches are located on either side of the pouch approximately where one would expect a teat or a nipple to be.

Image result for how do  echidna puggles drink from their mothers
Newman has been reared, with keepers feeding him a milk mixture
out of the palm of their hands. Credit: News Corp Australia, Taronga Zoo

The young laps at the milk patches, it does not suckle. Echidnas, the Different Mammal Dr. Peggy Rismiller OAM Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005

@Image by Sharon McGrigor
69 day old Puggle being raised at Western Australia’s Perth Zoo.. This is of an age where it would no longer be living in its mother pouch. You can see its ear fold an the spines beginning to develop @Perth Zoo Western Australia.

The puggle stays in the pouch for a further approximately 50 days until it starts to develop its spines, at which time mum will dig a nursery burrow in which she will leave the puggle. http://www.wiresnr.org/echidna.html The Puggle suddenly finds itself no longer clinging to its mother feeding when ever it desires warm snug and safe in its nestled in its mothers pouch. It now finds itself alone in a much cooler place where its mother will only return to feed it once every five days and it will only be with the puggle for a few hours. Echidnas, the Different Mammal Dr. Peggy Rismiller OAM Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005 (Rismiller 1999; Rismiller and McKelvey 2009)

It goes from clinging to the belly of its mother and having access to the milk patch at all times to being left alone in a cool (15 – 18°C) chamber .

@Taronga Zoo Sydney NSW AU, 2016

Many of us have had encounters with these animals in the garden, where they may dig them selves in to the ground, if this happens it is due to the animal being frightened, leave it alone, remove the threat (usually the family dog) and the echidna will go on its way once it feels secure. We can not relocate an echidna, they are solitary animals and have a territory, and if removed from this territory they will make every effort to return, crossing unfamiliar territory, also as we do not know if it is a male or female it could have a puggle waiting in a hollow for the next feed. wires.org.au

If you are interested in reading more about Echidnas and their lives I will be posting more on these endearing unique animals.

Tazzie

Welcome to Echidna Home and Life

Living in a rural location on an acre of land is not always easy when you have PTSD complex (fairly recently diagnosed)  It is interesting to discover in today’s world my life style is seen as pretty self sufficient. Not that I am anywhere near that and can never imagine (as much as I dream of it) being anywhere close to it. I guess it is because Echidna Home is a timber home with a metal roof I rely totally on three rain water tanks for all my water. I have a septic system for my black water (sewerage) and grey water is dispersed via a french drain. I don’t use much electricity, the water pump is probably the biggest user. I have wood heater and instant gas for hot water and cooking.

My home is in Tasmania the island state of Australia. I have recently recommenced growing more of my vegetable(vegies), I have some fruit trees and hazelnuts.

The river near my home sadly this was taken in early 2019 when we had severe bush fires for months on end this is the smoke you can see
. @Echidna Home Jan 2019

Life here has changed a lot over the few years.

The death of my partner, who showed me what being loved unconditionally is like and to be able to reciprocate was very special. I loved him so much. I miss him everyday though the grief and sadness are no longer present.

A few years after his death I had a breakdown, that saw me go from earning good money to living on Newstart (Government payment) as my mental health has deteriorated and I am no longer able to work. So there will be posts about finances, living on less than I earn and what might happen if I don’t do this. Living simply and patching mending clothes. Though living rurally I can get away with so much more in what I wear about the place. Some recipes that are great for budgeting and some things that help me to be able to as yet remain debt free.

I have recently been diagnosed with Complex PTSD This has bought some relief for me after many periods of depression and anxiety along with memory gaps through out my life. As I am learning so much from a great psychologist on why and that for what life has thrown my way over the years the way my brain saved me was a coping mechanism and now I am teaching my brain and myself to cope in different ways. Not easy but I am very much a work in progress.

My dogs with me as I tame some of my garden. @Echidna Home November 2019

I am still alive because of my awesome dogs. Who through the really bad times have given me purpose to get up and do things each day. They need me, and I need them. The worst days I hope are behind me I love waking up each day, no matter what the day may bring. Being in my garden with my hands in the soil and feet bare I am connected earthed for me a feeling of bliss. I am not the best veggie grower, gardener. I struggle yet what ever I get from my own garden is just brilliant. Simple things bring me so much pleasure. This year I have finally been able to grow nasturtiums and marigolds! I have struggled for so long to grow them and everyone about has them and says they are like weeds, Not at my place, they are treasured gems.

Photography is also a great delight to me. Living in Tasmania has given me some really wonderful experiences with my photography. I hope to share them on here. All photos on here unless otherwise noted will be my own. They will be copyrighted so please be advised if you wish to share them you need to contact me.

Why Echidna Home? I have so many native animals and birds that visit and live on my acre, (sadly along with rabbits feral cats and domestic ones too.) My faviourite being the Echidna. Such quirky awesome creatures. I love it when I see she/he in and about the garden or near bye. They are so unique. One echidna lives in my garden. I am so lucky!

The echidna that lives in my garden the blue thing is not a fence but a carrying box I use in the garden. One of my dogs scared she/he and it dug in. It is why the quills are full of rots and its face is covered in dirt. It was making its getaway (dog was inside) @Echidna Home December 2019

As this is about me, my dogs and my life, living on a very low income, as my mental illness means I can no longer work. I will be writing about my life, and where PTSD impacts me I do hope you will enjoy my posts, and comment ask questions and I will answer. To the best of my ability.

welcome to my home

Tazzie.

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