Short-beaked Echidna

Echidna walking through the buttongrass towards the camera
Echidnas in Tasmania have longer fur that covers much of the spines.

What does it look like? Pale brown to blackish fur above and below, which varies in length depending on range, and numerous protective spines on upper body, from back of neck to tail. Snout long and cylindrical, covered with sensitive skin, with nostrils and small mouth at tip.

Where is it found? Australia-wide, including major islands.

What are its habitats & habits? Found in a variety of habitats, from wet forests to deserts, where it is mostly crepuscular and nocturnal, although active during the day in cooler areas. Feeds on ants, termites and other invertebrates, using its sharp, powerful claws to dig through soil or rotting vegetation and rip open mud nests or fallen timber, collecting any exposed prey using its long, sticky tongue. A single soft-shelled egg is incubated in a small temporary pouch on the female’s belly, which hatches after around 10 days, and the young ‘puggle’ is carried in its mother’s pouch for up to 2 months.

Interesting fact: If threatened, will curl into a loose ball or dig itself into the ground, leaving only the sharp spines exposed.

Scientific name: Tachyglossus aculeatus

Size: 300-450 mm TL

Also known as: Spiny Anteater

Do you want to know more about Australia’s mammals? Check out our latest book “The Naturalist’s Guide to Mammals of Australia” – available for purchase at major retailers or directly from us

Echidna walking through leaves on the ground
Echidnas are found in a variety of habitats, from wet forests to deserts, where it is mostly crepuscular and nocturnal, although active during the day in cooler areas.