Adelaide Zoo

Animal Facts

  • Genus:

  • Species:

    Tachyglossus aculeatus
  • Conservation

    Least Concern

  • Found In:

    Australia and New Guinea
  • Length:

    30 to 45cm
  • Weight:

    2 to 7kg

Meet the curious Echidna!

Adelaide Zoo’s Short-beaked Echidnas Stevie and Whitney are king and queen!

Stevie is prickly in appearance but definitely not by nature. Echidnas are usually shy animals, but not Stevie! He is an inquisitive little echidna and can often be seen shuffling through the rainforest aviary without a care in the world, pushing both visitors and birds off the boardwalk as he sniffs his way around. Stevie is an old boy, born at the Zoo on 13 December 1997 and is blind in both eyes, but he doesn’t let that slow him down! He loves to tuck into his mince-meat slurry and is also happy to help himself to the birds’ food.

Whitney was rescued in 2012 after she was found injured in the Adelaide Hills and handed into the zoo. Whitney is adventurous, and loves digging and exploring all the nooks and crannies of her exhibit.

Echidnas are one of two species of monotremes, or egg laying mammals, and are found throughout Australia and New Guinea. The only other monotreme is the Platypus. They’re covered in coarse hair and spines which provides good protection against predators. Normally a solitary and timid animal, echidnas will curl into a spikey ball at the first hint of noise or movement.

Echidnas are insectivores and eat mainly ants and termites. They don’t have any teeth so instead they use their narrow beak and long sticky tongue to mop up dinner from inside ant nests and termite mounds.

One month after mating, a female echidna lays a single soft-shelled leathery egg and deposits it in her pouch. A baby echidna, called a puggle, hatches ten days later and is carried around by mum for about two months, feeding on her milk. Puggles start life off without any spines. Once spines start to develop and it becomes too spikey to carry, the mother will dig a burrow for it to live in.

Echidnas are generally found in forests and woodlands hiding under the vegetation and are the most widely distributed native Australian mammal across the country.

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