Facts about this animal
The short-beaked echidna may reach a head-body length of about half a metre and a weight of up to 5 kgs. The stubby tail is about 9 cm long. It is readily recognised by its covering of up to 60 mm long spines. These spines are usually yellow with black tips, but can be entirely yellow. Underneath the spines, short-nosed echidnas are covered with dark brown or black body hair. The head is small with a long, tubular snout which is toothless, naked and about half the head length. The feet have five digits with flat claws used for digging. Male echidnas have a hollow spur on the hindfoot but there is no functional venom gland.
Echidnas occupy a wide range of habitats. They inhabit overlapping home ranges, where usually shelter under thick bushes, in hollow logs, under piles of debris, or occasionally in burrows. They are insectivore, digging their way into ant or termite nests with their front paws or snout, and extending their long, sticky tongue into the nest. The insects stick to the Echidna's sticky tongue and are drawn into its mouth where they are chewed up between a horny pad at the back of the tongue and a similar structure on the palate.
Did you know?
that echidnas are one of only two examples of mammals that lay eggs? The other member of this group is the platypus.
|Name (Scientific)||Tachyglossus aculeatus|
|Name (English)||Short-beaked Echidna|
|Name (French)||Echidné à nez court|
|Name (Spanish)||Equidna de nariz corta|
|CITES Status||Not included|
|CMS Status||Not Included|
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|Range||Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea|
|Habitat||Forests, woodlands, meadows and Australian deserts|
|Wild population||Unknown, but it is a common widespread species (Red List IUCN 2011)|
|Zoo population||96 registered according to ISIS (2005)|
In the Zoo
How this animal should be transported
For air transport, Container Note 75 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations , should be followed.
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Why do zoos keep this animal
Zoos keep short-beaked echidnas primarily for educational purposes because it is one of only three genera of mammals that lay eggs. Australian zoos also often come into the situation to keep short-beaked echidnas for animal welfare reasons as they may accept and care for sick, injured or orphaned animals.