Short-nosed Echidna

Short-Beaked Echidna

Tachyglossus aculeatus


Quick Facts
Weight: 4 to15 pounds
Wild diet: Ants, termites, and larvae of other invertebrates
Zoo Diet: Mixed baby cereal, whey protein isolate, vionate, calcium carbonate, Vitamin K supplement, shelled hard-boiled eggs, water, corn oil, and Zupreem feline diet
Distribution: Most of Australia, central and southern New Guinea, and many nearby islands
Habitat: A variety of habitats: forests, rocky areas, hilly tracts, sandy plains, open woodlands, savannahs, semi-arid areas, arid areas, and rain forests

Short-beaked echidnas are a medium-size monotreme mammal, rarely weighing more than 7 kg (15.4 pounds), covered on their back with stout spines among a fur coat of varying color from light brown to black. It is impossible to distinguish male from female echidnas by their appearance without picking them up to determine the presence or absence of a penis. They have a short, stubby tail. The hollow spines that cover most of their body are yellowish at the base and black at the tip and measure about 2 inches long. The underbelly lacks spines but is covered with fur and thick bristles. They have a long, tubular snout. Since they do not have teeth, they use their long, sticky tongue to gather food. There are two sets of hardened, keratinous spines (one set on the roof of the mouth and one at the base of the tongue) for grinding insect exoskeletons into a paste. Their feet have five flat claws that are adapted for digging, though their hindfeet are used primarily for grooming.

Status in the Wild

They are abundant in their natural habitat.

Conservation Programs

Listed as “least concern" on the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).

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