Sunday, October 16, 2011
In the wild
We spotted this spiky little fellow crossing a busy road near Black Mountain on Friday afternoon. With cars whizzing by, he'd somehow managed to make it safely, and by the time we'd pulled over and I'd gone back to see if he was okay he'd waddled across a ditch and was digging his way into the grass on the other side.
This is a short-beaked echidna, and you don't see them very often during the day - they tend to be more active at dusk and dawn. They grow to around 35-45cm long, have dark fur between their spines, and eat ants and termites. Echidnas (together with platypuses) are monotremes - the only egg-laying mammals. The adult's spines are good protection in general, but no match for a car (this is the first time I've seen a live echidna in the wild!), and they also fall prey to feral cats and dogs in urban areas like Canberra.