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Short-beaked Echidna

Tachyglossus aculeatus

Class: Mammalia
Lifespan: Up to 16 years        
Diet: Myrmecophage (anteater)           
Weight: Up to 10kg
Height: Up to 76cm
Speed: Up to 2.3km/h                           
Reproduction: Live birth
Status: Least concern

The short-beaked echidna is one of two egg laying mammals that can be found in Australia, known as monotremes. The other is the platypus. The female echidna lays a single soft-shelled egg which she keeps safe by contracting her muscles to create an incubation pouch, keeping the egg safe inside.

Echidnas possess short, powerful limbs with five digits each ending with a flattened claw, well adapted for digging. If threatened, echidnas can dig straight into the soil with significant speed, disappearing in a cloud of dirt.

The short-beaked echidna has a long, slender tongue which protrudes up to 18 centimeters out of its snout. The tongue is covered in a layer of sticky mucous and is flicked in and out of the echidna’s mouth up to 100 times a minute. The tongue is also very flexible which further helps echidnas to catch and eat ants, termites and larvae out of mounds, nests and small crevices.