Did you know? The echidna is named after a half mammal, half snake creature in Greek mythology.
Echidnas are one of only two monotremes – platypus being the other – in the world, and both are found here in Australia. Monotremes are special as they’re mammals which lay eggs. What makes an echidna even more unique is that the females have a pouch to hold their young just like marsupials.
Echidnas are rather elusive as you don’t often come across them compared to other Australian wildlife. The closest most Australians get to an echidna (aside from zoos or wildlife parks) is on the front of the five-cent coin.
Baby echidnas are called puggles. A female echidna lays an egg which they then place in their pouch. Two months later the puggle has hatched and grown some more, and is then transferred to a nursery their mother has dug. The puggle will remain in the nursery for a year with the mother returns only every five days for feedings.
In popular culture, you’ll find fictional characters inspired by echidnas. There’s the character called Knuckles which made it’s debut in the Sonic the Hedgehog 3 video game. Furthermore, in the Harry Potter universe, Nifflers are said to be based on echidnas.
Aside from some other animals (foxes, blue-tongued lizards, owls, kookaburras, and a kangaroo), we’re lucky have to been visited by an echidna at two homes we’ve lived in. The first time the poor little thing was scared and began digging under a large rock in our front yard and almost got squashed in the process – it returned a few months later looking for food. At the second residence, an echidna came to visit several times, snacking on insects in our yard – it waddled off after making a mess of our garden beds, refusing to clear up before leaving. We like to think that it was the same echidna (they can live several decades) coming to see how we’re doing almost 20 years on.
It’s only in recent years that the number of echidna tattoos shared online has increased. Will you be adding one to your collection?