Mammal

Echidna

Area: 
Australia, Tasmania, and Indonesia, Papua New Guinea
Habitat: 
Scrubland, desert, and forest
Food: 
Ants, termites, and earthworms
Size: 
14 to 30 inches long, depending on the species
Babies: 
A baby echidna, called a puggle, crawls into the mother’s pouch after hatching from an egg.
The echidna is one of two egg-laying mammals. The other is the platypus.
Spiny Stranger

 

 

Echidnas (say “ee-KID-nahz) are marsupials like koalas and kangaroos. These animals were named for a mythological monster, but they are shy, peaceful creatures. Another name for an echidna (say “ee-KID-nah”) is spiny anteater—and that’s exactly what it is and does!

 

Although it has fur, too, what you first see covering an echidna are dangerous-looking spines. The quills are hollow, and each has a sharp, barbed point. But the echidna doesn’t have quills on its nose or underside. If a predatorAn animal that hunts and kills other animals for its food. flips this prickly preyNoun: An animal that is hunted as food by another animal. Verb: To attempt to take an animal for food. over, the echidna tucks into a ball with its nose to its belly to keep its soft parts safe.

 

An echidna’s long snout gives it a good sense of smell. When it sniffs out a meal, the animalAny living thing that is not a plant. Most animals can move about freely. All use plants or other animals as food. All have sensory organs. uses its long clawsThe fingernails of an animal, such as a bear or cat. They help to grab prey. In birds, they're called talons. to dig the food out. Then it licks the ants up with its long tongue. An echidna has no teeth. Instead it grinds its meal against the roof of its mouth before swallowing.

 

Echidnas are born without quills, so it doesn’t hurt the mother when the puggle is in her pouch. When the spines grow in, the puggle leaves the pouch.