Of Echidnas and Hedgehogs

echdna in pots
the echidna – an australian forest dweller

I just read that the hedgehogs in England are disappearing. There are only 1 million left down from 36 million in the 1950’s. You can check out the story here. It’s the usual reasons: habitat degradation, human encroachment, road traffic etc.

Our biodiversity is on the wane. Gaia is getting a shellacking – human population increases and diversity decreases.

I do feel sad about these things but there is still much to smile about.  We can all do our bit for the planet. I get so much pleasure from all the birds, mammals and lizards on our property and in Australia we have the strangest menagerie of all. What a weird lot. One such creature is the echidna (I took the above picture in our garden and the one below was taking a drink just the other day). It’s an egg laying mammal – one of only 2 on earth – the other is the platypus and both are called monotremes.

The echidna is Australia’s version of the hedgehog with a covering of protective spines, but he is quite abundant in the bush feeding on a diet of ants and more ants. They have a very sensitive snout with a tongue that flickers out to gobble up the ants. If I want to sneak up on one then I have to do so downwind as they have an acute sense of smell. Echidnas can live for up to 45 years – quite extraordinary for such a small animal. Every three years or so they raise their young in a pouch in good old marsupial style.

ernie having a drink
ernie the echidna having a drink

Categories: Science

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