Short-beaked Echidnas can grow up to 40cm and 7kg, but most are between 2kg and 5kg. Their Latin name means ‘quick tongue’ (Tachyglossus) and ‘spiny’ (aculeatus). There’s good reason why their other common name is the Spiny Ant-eater.
A Short-beaked Echidna drinking from a stream. Photo Steve Parish.
Their snouts are rigid and strong, allowing them to break open logs and termite mounds. Echidnas then slurp up ants and other insects with their sticky, saliva-covered tongue, which can be 17cm long!
Echidnas have a very keen sense of smell, useful in locating mates, detecting danger and snuffling for food. Their short limbs and shovel-like claws are perfect for digging out food and burrowing in the soil. Males also have a spur on each hind leg though, unlike the Platypus, it’s non-venomous.
Instead, they use their hard, sharp spines for protection. Below these 5cm-long spines, echidnas are covered in short black hair, helping them to live in a wide variety of habitats.
Size: L25cm x H13cm