What Are Echidnas?


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Kath Senior answered
Echidnas are a type of monotreme – a sort of mammal but one that lays eggs rather than giving birth to live young. There are two species of echidna, the short nosed echidna of eastern Australia and Tasmania and the rarer long nosed echidna of New Guinea. The latter type is restricted to the highland areas of New Guinea and also occurs in Indonesia and on the Sulawesi Island. Both species are spiny, but the short nosed species has the longest and most prominent spines that are a bit like those of the porcupine.

The spines of the long nosed echidnas are partially covered up by their long fur. If attacked by a potential predator, they roll up into a ball and expose all of their spines for maximum defensive effect. They have a keen sense of hearing and smell and can detect the approach of a predator well in advance allowing them to take cover rather than take up this defensive posture, which is a last resort.

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