Echidnas are: Deuterostomes   Vertebrates  Eucoelomates  Mammals   Monotremes


(Short Beaked Spiny Anteater)




Echidna are MONOTREMES (egg laying mammals). 
There are only 3 monotremes: the platypus and 2 kinds of echidna.   
Echidna grow to about 20" in length and their body is covered with large, 
hollow spines 2-3 inches long. Underneath the spines echidnas have dark 
brown or black body hair.

Echidnas live alone most of the year except during breeding season!

Males have a hollow spur on 
their hind feet, but it is 
like in the platypus. 

Echidna milk is PINK due 
to an iron binding protein.

Echidnas are mammals but they lay eggs!

Echidnas live in Australia, New Zealand,and nearby islands including Tasmania and New Guinea.

There are 2 kinds of Echidna. 
One (short beaked Echidna) is found 
mainly in Australia; 
the other lives in New Zealand.

Baby echidna are called PUGGLES!

WIERD- In Greek Mythology ECHIDNA
is a monster

means "fast tongue" and they live up to their name. Echidna eat mainly ants and termites. They use their large claws to open up ant or termite nests, then gobble up the insects with their "sticky" fast tongue. They will also eat worms and grubs and larvae of other kinds of invertebrates. They have NO TEETH and crush their food between hard pads in their mouths.



San Diego Zoo

The breeding season for Echidnas is the end of June to September. Two weeks after mating
the female lays ONE EGG with a LEATHERY SHELL from her cloaca into a POUCH on the front
of her body.  The baby has an egg tooth, to help it break out of the egg when it is ready. 
When it hatches a baby echidna weighs about 1/8 the weight of a dime! 

The egg hatches after 10 days and the baby stays in the pouch, for about 55 days drinking milk,
and growing. Echidnas have NO NIPPLES.  Milk is secreted through 2 patches on the skin. MALES HAVE POUCHES TOO!  
Around 2-3 months of age the baby leaves the pouch (about the time its SPINES are getting
uncomfortable!) Babies continue to nurse until they are about 6 months old.

Once they are out of the pouch they stay in a hollow or cave and the mother comes to feed it. 
After 1 year the young are on their own.

Echidnas are found all over Australia. They can live in a wide variety of places including: deserts, forests, and highlands... wherever there are ants and termites. They don't stay in a nest or den unless the female is nursing young. They simply find shelter wherever they are: under rocks, fallen logs, in caves, or under bushes.
Echidnas have not been hurt as much by habitat destruction as other animals are because echidnas can live anywhere there are ants. However, one problem with interacting with humans is the tendency for echidnas to become "road kill".  They are often hit by cars as they cross roads and highways looking for lunch.
Like all mammals Echinda have a closed circulatory system and a 4 chamber heart. 
Echidna have fur and make milk for their babies like other mammals, but they lay eggs.



Echidnas were a favorite food of Aboriginal people and early 
white settlers but they are now
  protected by law.

To get away from predators, echidnas will burrow down into the soil so only their spines show. On hard surfaces they will curl into a ball with their spines on the outside.

Their natural enemies are:
Eagles and Tasmanian devils, which even eat the spines!



Echidna pictures:

Echidna eggs:

Map: Association of National Tourist Office Representatives of Australasia