Our Bushland Diary

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yes, we have echidnas...

Someone asked me yesterday about echidnas.  Do we have echidnas in Ellenbrook?  Yes, we certainly do, but you won't see them wandering around in broad daylight in your street, because they tend to be nocturnal.  And they prefer to stay in bushland, where there are tasty insects to eat, and shady places to sleep.  So, unless you have local plants and logs and termite mounds in your backyard, you probably won't ever find an echidna there.

Echidnas are heavy-set animals with thick spiky fur and long sharp quills.  They have sharp claws for digging into dirt and old timber, and a long "beak" and tongue for eating termites and ants.  They are monotremes - a special kind of mammal that lays eggs but suckles its young with milk.  Their eyes are small, and it seems that they rely a lot on their sense of smell.  Have a look at this link for more information and photos.

My bushwalking friends and I often see evidence of echidnas in bushland.  We see termite mounds with large holes scratched in them, and cylindrical "scats" (poo) that look like clay mixed with dead insects.  Sometimes we find rotting logs that have been ripped open, and distinctive tracks across patches of sand.  Look at this photo - an echidna had moved a small log to dig into the termite nest under it.  There are echidna footprints in the remains of the termite nest.

We know the echidnas are around, but they are difficult to find.

When you drive on roads near bushland at night, please slow down and keep an eye out for animals.  Echidnas, bandicoots, wallabies and other native animals have no idea about road safety.

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