144. Echidna

Echidna is a spiny ant eater. It is an egg laying mammal. Four extant species of Echidna and the Platypus are the only surviving Monotremes or egg laying mammals.

Echidna is named after a monster in ancient Greek mythology. It is found in Australia and New Guinea and feeds mainly on termites and ants.

Echidna is a small mammal covered with coarse hair and spines. It resembles a hedgehog and a porcupine in appearance. Its long slender snout performs the functions of both the nose and the mouth.

Short strong legs and large claws help in digging up the ants and termites. It has a tiny mouth and a toothless jaw and can feed only using its long sticky tongue.Tiny spines on the tongue help to capture the prey.

Female echidna deposits its egg directly into her pouch. The egg hatches after ten days. Young echidna sucks milk from the two pores of the milk patch as monotremes do not have nipples. It remains in the pouch for 45 to 55 days.

When it starts developing spines, the mother digs a nursery burrow and puts her baby there. She returns every five to suckle and nurse until it is weaned at the age of 7 months.

Soft beaked Echidna can roll itself into a spiky ball!

Visalakshi Ramani


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