The Echidna (Tachyglossidae)
the echidna is a small animal that is so confusing and odd that the more you know, the less you understand. the name echidna comes from Greek mythology, being named as "The mother of monsters". it was given this name because it has similarities between so many animals, both mammal and reptile. they resemble other prickly mammals such as hedge hogs and porcupines on the outside and are usually brown or black. the echindna lives in Australia naturally.
The echidna has a long, skinny snout that they use in the same way an anteater does, but their snout has electroreceptors which have the ability to perceive natural electrical stimuli, much like the platypus. the echidna has short but very strong limbs which are very good for digging. they also have tiny mouths and toothless jaws. they feed by using their claw stregnth to break through soft logs and anthills and then they use their long sticky tongues to collect prey. they eat everything from ants and termites, to worms and insect larvae
The echidna does not do well in extreme weather, which Australia can have a lot of. they hide mainly in caves or crevasses under rocks to shield themselves. they mainly live in the woodlands and the forest. They dig holes underground like bunnies and wombats. when swimming the keep their snout and some of their quills out of the water, they have been known to do this to clean and groom themselves. predators of the echidna include, wild cats, foxes and some domestic dogs. if the echida feels threatened they will dig a small shallow hole and curl into a ball to look like a spiky bush.
The Reproductive System
echidnas are known as monotremes, which is a group of mammals that lay eggs like reptiles. The male echidna have a 4 headed reproductive genital. when mating, two of the heads will shrivel up and fall up while the other two grow to the size of the echida in legnth. they will grow back, and the next time it mates it will use the two new ones and the others will fall off. 22 days after mating, the female will lay a single leathery egg which she will place in her pouch, like a kangaroo, where it will be nourished for the next 10 days before hatching. the baby echidna, also known as a "puggle",will be nourished in the pouch from the mothers milk patches, since the echida doesnt have nipples, for the next 45-55 days. the mating season begins in late june and extends through september. males will form a line of up to 10 individuals long, with the youngest echidna last, and they will all attemt to mate with the female. this is called the "train" system.
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