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Short-beaked Echidna

Short-beaked Echidna
Photo Information
Copyright: Chris Chafer (sandpiper2) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1906 W: 107 N: 4875] (16757)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2005-08-31
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Fujifilm Finepix S5000, Fujinon 10X zoom
Exposure: f/3.2, 1/150 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Mammals of Australia [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2005-09-15 16:58
Viewed: 12740
Points: 22
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Although the Echidna may look superficially like a hedgehog of the Northern Hemisphere, they belong to a completely different class of mammal, the Monotremes.
This is a Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), one of only three species of Monotreme, the others being the Long-beaked Echidna of Papua New Guinea and the Platypus.

Monotremes are unique amongst mammals because they lay eggs. About two weeks after mating a single soft-shelled egg is laid and transferred to a pouch on the female Echidnas belly, where the egg hatches after about 10 days. Monotremes do not have teats or nipples, instead milk is exuded from numerous pores within the pouch and the developing young suckle on these pores and live entirely within the pouch for about 3 months. After this time the young Echidna has developed short spines and the female will leave the young in a crude nest while she goes to forage for food. The young becomes fully independent of the mother at 7-8 months.

The thick, sharp spines offer an almost impenetrable defence against potential predators and the Echidna can roll up nearly into a ball if it has to.

Echidnas don’t have any teeth and their mouth has evolved into a long fused tubular ‘beak’. They forage almost entirely on ants and termites, which are extracted using a long sticky tongue. At the back of the tongue and on the roof of the palate are horny pads and a circular crushing motion breaks up the insects before being swallowed.
The front feet are armed with very powerful claws that allow the Echidna to easily rip apart termite mounds and any nests.

Echidna grow to about 500mm in length and weigh 3-6kg and have a home range of around 70 hectares. They are sparsely distributed throughout mainland Australia, Tasmania and southern Papua New Guinea and inhabit any environment from lightly vegetated deserts to rainforest and even in snow-covered alpine regions.

This one was taken at Featherdale Wildlife Park in western Sydney.

Thanks for looking.

gerhardt, JeanMichel, magiqa, marhowie, coasties, scottevers7, Fisher has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Great shot! I love Echidnas. I plan to come over to Australia soon. Paul :)

I would love to one of these in real life. Very interesting subject, Chris. A tad OE but nice none the less. TFS.

Always interesting to see animals we don't have here. Very good note, Chris, to explain that even if the body looks like an hedgehog, everything else is different. A rare animal. Just would have liked to see a bit more of the front. TFS.

Very good picture of this cute but sticky, special animal. We have a small relative to it in Europe (in Swedish called igelkott). But unfortunately they are rare nowadays, because they get killed in the traffic all the time. I have seen another, big relative in South Africa, with very long sticks.

Nice shot Chris, Thank You for the great info. on this one.

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2005-09-16 1:11]

Now THAT is an animal we don't see very much on TN, if ever. Very interesting animal indeed. TFS, Chris. : )

  • Great 
  • Graal Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Silver Note Writer [C: 751 W: 31 N: 20] (5100)
  • [2005-09-16 3:26]

Good capture. Nice colours and very good sharpness. Interesting note. Well done.
Rgs, Aleksander

Hi Chris

Excellent shot. Very good detail of the quills. Nice POV, good colour, exposure and light. Nice work. Thanks. :-)

Hi Chris,
An excellent capture. All the usual photo stuff is great, but I love the uniqueness of this creature. Only see this stuff on National Geographic, but I will make it to the land down under in a few years. An excellent photo, and even more excellent notes. Thanks..

Hi Chris,

Excellent shot full of details. Beautiful work. The presentation is excellent and interesting. TFS


  • Great 
  • livios Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2150 W: 319 N: 4263] (16942)
  • [2005-09-20 20:54]

Chris, this is a unique capture. It's one of those shots that epitomize what this webpage is all about.

I've never seen one of them. Excellent capture with vivid details and perfect sharpness.

Thanks a lot for sharing.

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