Friday, 5 September 2014

Echidna

There are some remarkable animals here on planet Earth - and this must be in the top 10!

This is an Echidna - or as it is sometimes called in books published outside of Australia "The Spiny Anteater.

That second name is rather accurate, as it is both spiny and an eater of ants!

However, thats not why this animal is a contender for top 10 ranking:  what makes this animal special is that it is a mammal that layer eggs.

Now these are not like your everyday chicken egg, being small and leathery, but an egg they are.  The eggs hatch (if thats the right word) after about ten days - and then the young echidna continues to grow in a shallow pouch.

Many people (including me) were taught at school that these animals were some form of fossil species with primitive features - and this is now not thought to be the case.  While its true that they have some features of the skeleton that are found in reptiles, they are not some primitive beast hanging on be the skin of its teeth (not that it actually has teeth!).

These are modern, well adapted creatures that are in fact the most wide spread of all Australia's native mammals.  The distribution map for this species is basically the same shape as Australia - if there are ants, there may well be echidnas.  In cold regions - Tasmania and alpine areas - the fur between the spines may be much longer than in the individuals in these pictures.

(It occurs to me that some of you may never have heard the word echidna before - so it sounds like this ee-kid-na)

Last and not least is the echidnas ability to dig almost vertically downwards in soft ground as a means of defence.  When buried in this way the echidna presents little more than a dome of spines to any would be predators.




in defence mode (and not looking at the camera)
Pretty remarkable animal all in all!

You can find more animals from around the world here at Eileens Critters on Saturday.


32 comments:

Sylvia K said...

Oh, what terrific shots, Stewart, I love them!! And what an amazing animal!! I've never seen one before!! Thanks for sharing! Have a great weekend!!

TexWisGirl said...

cute little guy! hedgehoggish!

ladyfi said...

What a sweet creature.

CabinGirl said...

These are amazing photos, Stewart. Did you find one that wasn't shy or are they in general not easily spooked? Or were you laying in the grass in a ghillie suit? ;-)

Really, really cool to see.

cobie en bas van Es said...

Prachtig hoe krijg je het voor elkaar.

Linda W. said...

That is one interesting looking animal. And facinating to learn about it - thanks for supplying all the facts. Nice photos!

Revrunner said...

Fascinating character.

Lee said...

They are incredible. I've only ever seen one in the flesh/spines, and that was, to my amazement at the time, when I was living on Newry Island.

There is one (could be more) roaming around on this property...quite a big fellow, too, I've been told. My landlords and their daughter have seen it, but I haven't. This is a three acre block of land...my landlords' home is up one end and my cabin is down the other. There's quite a lot of wild life roaming around here (including me).

Marie said...

Wow! Love the spiny anteater photos, and I loved learning about him.

Ela said...

Wow ! Just a gorgeous creature !
Great photos !

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Yes!! Remarkable.
And so cool
And cute
Thanks for the brief lesson. I love to learn about your critters. Yall have the best.

Lois said...

He is a cute little fellow, but I wouldn't want to get to close to those spines. Very interesting information!

Breathtaking said...

Very interesting,and great photos to go with all the info Stewart. He has a sweet face, and is similar to our hedgehogs but bigger!
Warm regards.

Irma said...

Hi Stewart,
What a beautiful animal this is, i have never seen or heard anything.
The information is also quite good.
The photos are sublime.

Richard Pegler said...

What a super illustrated 'lesson' this post is, Stewart.

I too immeciately thought of Hedgehog when I saw the images, but realise that the similarities are very superficial. I bet, however, that you think of 'home' and the hedghogs whenever you see one of these! I was photographing one of the hedgehogs in my garden just last night!

Have a great weekend - - Richard

Chris Rohrer said...

Strange and cool little critter. Love that face!

eileeninmd said...

Hi Stewart. What a cool looking critter! Awesome sightings and wonderful photos.. Thank you for sharing your post with my critter party. Have a happy weekend!

Linley S said...

Great captures of the echidna Stewart. I saw one on my walk the other day but no camera handy. Buggar.

Elaine said...

Wonderful photos ! He is a cute little thing isn't he ?! Thanks for sharing , Have a good week !

Kenneth Cole Schneider said...

So interesting! And, thanks for the pronunciation guide, as I did not have a clue!

Adam Jones said...

What an amazing looking animal. I do think that some of the best animals are in Australia.

Hannah said...

Amazing photos, the Echidna is so cute. The spines are really formidable. I can see why it would be widespread in Australia. I would welcome an animal that eats ants in my garden. The Echidna and Platypus are both amazing animals, with the egg-laying feature.

June Caedmon said...

He {she?} is adorable, Stewart! And thanks for the information. My mom will love this guy, I'll have to share your link with her. Have a great week!

bailey-road.com said...

What a fascinating creature! These photos are great.

adaisyisadaisy said...

Lovely shots, the world is full of amazing animals. Have a great Sunday.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

What a great animal~ loved everything about this post. We do live in an amazing world!!! Appreciate you telling me how to pronounce this guy too~

Pat Tillett said...

What an amazing and beautiful creature.
Great photos Stewart.

Gunilla B├Ąck said...

They're so cute! Amazing critters.

DesertHen said...

What a remarkable creature! I learned something new today!

Susan (ABON) said...

Interesting creature, indeed. Certainly different from most. Made me think of a hedgehog at first. Thank you for sharing the wonderful Echidna photos, Stewart!

Lina Gustina said...

Awesome critter and shots.
My first time to know about this kind of animal.
Thanks for stopping by.

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Chyou Ma said...

i think you have those what a wild life photographer need.Thanks for sharing.

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