Threats/Control Methods - Regional
Threats/Control Methods - LocalEchidnas' main local threats are Dogs, Cats, and roads, on which they are often run over.
Local/Urban ActionsCanberrans can assist the survival of local Echidnas by keeping Cats out of bushland areas, and maintaining control of Dogs when in bushland habitat areas.
Echidna, Short-beaked Echidna, Spiny Anteater
The Echidna is easily recognisable due to the spines that cover its back. Dark, thick fur is present between the spines. They can grow to 45cm, although generally average around 35cm.
No similar species exist in
The Echidna is a very widespread species, occurring across
Country of Origin
Echidnas are detected during surveys by their diggings, scats or by active searches.
Conservation (Pet/Pest) Status - National
Common across the country, although local populations are often small.
Conservation (Pet/Pest) Status - Regional
Sparse populations found in bushland areas around the ACT.
Found during the LSCC survey at low numbers.
Associated vegetation community
The only particular limiting resource for Echidnas is an adequate supply of ants and termites.
Mating occurs in late winter, with a single egg laid directly into the female's pouch. This egg hatches about 10 days later, after which the baby Echidna suckles in the pouch for many months. Eventually, the young will leave the pouch, but stay in a burrow, to which the mother returns to feed it. Juveniles first tend to be emerge from the burrow at around 1 year old.
Echidna's are solitary, except during mating season. Generally Echidna's are active at dawn and dusk, but in hot areas they tend to be active at night, while in cold areas, including the mountains around Canberra, Echidnas hibernate during the colder months. Echidnas shelter under bushes, in logs or in burrows, but will not confine themselves to a particular shelter place except when rearing young.
The Echidna feeds on ants and termites, breaking into their nest and catching them by extending its long sticky tongue.
Adult Echidna's are well protected from predation by their spines, although they may occasionally be attacked by Dingos. Young Echidna's are more vulnerable and may be taken by Goannas. Around urban areas, domestic or feral Cats and Dogs may prey on the Echidna.
In winter and early spring, Echidnas can be seen in Canberra Nature Park, walking in a line. This ritual involves a female being followed by several males, and can last for several weeks. Eventually, the female will allow the lead male to mate with her.
The Echidna is one of only three species of mammal in the world known to lay eggs. The others are the Long-beaked Echidna (Zaglossus bruijni) of New Guinea and the Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus ).
References - (reader suitability of references, P=Primary teachers, S=Secondary students, T=Tertiary students and researchers)
Books:Strahan R (ed), 1995. The Mammals of Australia. Australian Museum/Reed Books, Sydney. S, T
Online References:Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), 2006. 'Spring in Canberra Nature Park' S, Thttp://www.abc.net.au/canberra/stories/s1738748.htm[accessed 14/6/07]
Department of the Environment and Water Resources. "Tachyglossidae". Australian Biological Resources Study. S, Thttp://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/abrs/fauna/details.pl?pstrVol=PROTOTHERIA;pstrTaxa=20;pstrChecklistMode=1 [accessed 14/6/07]
Stewart D, 2003. "The Enigma of the Echidna" in National Wildlife, vol 41. no. 3. S, Thttp://www.nwf.org/nationalwildlife/article.cfm?articleId=763&issueId=61[accessed 14/6/07]
Researcher: Ian Rayner