You may well be starting to see them around as they come out of hibernation and they are often encountered in unusual locations. They feed exclusively on ants and termites and are widespread through the Adelaide Hills and Australia.
An echidna will travel long distances looking for food, and may travel through your property or yard. Many wildlife rescue calls for echidnas regard ones that have 'dug' themselves in and do not seem to want to move on. If you see an echidna and it is NOT injured please leave it alone, keep your pets away and do not attempt to contain it.
In most circumstances echidnas do not need to be removed or rescued, in fact this can be detrimental to any healthy echidna, as it risks them losing their scent trail or leaving young unattended in the burrow. Echidnas have a type of inbuilt GPS which we don’t want to interrupt and you will find that the echidna will move away as soon as it feels safe and out of danger.
If you approach an echidna it defends itself the only way it can, by digging into the ground and this happens whenever it feels insecure or in danger. It may also roll itself into a ball or cling on to any surface it can. Please NEVER use a shovel to try and lift any echidna as it most often results in broken toes and spines.
Male echidna are often around during spring following scent trails of females and you may even see multiple suitors following a single female.
Female echidna can have young (puggles) in burrows that they leave alone while they go out to forage for food and it is critical that they are able to return. Puggles will stay within their mother's den for up to a year before leaving. If female echidnas are ‘rescued’ or contained by well-meaning people while they are away from their young it can leave a young puggle to starve to death in the burrow.
Never try to relocate any echidna unless it is injured or like this guy, has found himself with a brass ring (possible old plumbing equipment) around his beak.
You can help echindnas by:
1. Removing other animals or risks
2. If safe to do so, stopping the traffic and allowing the echidna to make its own way off the road.
3. Any echidna injured by cars MUST be taken to a veterinary clinic and X-rayed. It is impossible to examine these animals properly without X-ray as you cannot feel broken bones as in other animals. Use gardening gloves to protect your hands from the spines. Call SOWFI for further advice and rescue assistance and please take note of the exact location if you need to leave.
Check the surrounding area for young as very young echidnas can easily be dislodged from the flap like pouch of the mother on impact with a vehicle.
5. If you should find a young echidna with no spines or very few, please call for assistance and ensure it is kept cool until help has arrived. Never pick up an unspined puggle with bare hands, as a puggles immune system is not able to cope with human bacteria. Use a pouch/t-shirt/clean tea towel to pick up and wrap. An ice brick in hot weather should be placed close by the puggle but not directly touching in order to keep it cool. DO NOT put the puggle directly on the ice brick. Echidnas cannot tolerate temperatures above 30 degrees.
Monotremes are thought to have evolved approximately 200 million years ago. They have all the mammalian characteristics but have no teats, lay eggs and have a single opening for urogenital and faecal access (cloaca). The two members of this group are the Platypus and Echidna.
https://www.wires.org.au/wildlife-info/wildlife-education/echidna, https://www.ahc.sa.gov.au/environment/living-with-wildlife, https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/goodliving/posts/2019/01/echidna-facts)
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