Al the Echidna is a new arrival to our property,he turned up on a summers day…smaller than the two previous echidnas we have spotted and so we assume the offspring of Eddie and Edwina.As far as echidnas go he is quite bold..either through the innocence of youth or the determination to follow his nose regardless of any odd looking tall bi-peds such as myself.
During this summer we have had so many sightings and all have resulted in some wonderful time wasting on our behalf and i think some bemusement by Al….he was not shy to have me capture his image as long as i was quiet and slowly moved..he just went about his search for ants ..
It really is a treat to watch as he lifts rocks and digs at the ground,his claws are amazing and he is very strong,anyone who has ever tried to move one (myself!) can attest to the strength theses creatures have.I believe it has to do with the structure of their muscles in their neck and the way they work which makes them very strong…i am talking grown man can’t pull one from the ground if they have started to dig in…which is what we have had to do to move them to safer areas away from the house yard where the dogs are…not to mention those quills ..which although made from Keratin the same as hair are very sharp …welding gloves are the only semi protection.from them.Sadly when they get on to our roads they are very hard to move as if you approach they can start to dig in to the bitumen which can hurt them.I had two rescues in as many days one year…the first fellow motorists and i guided him off the road..and the second ,was one a man had pulled over to help but he was well dug in…this poor guy had tried to move him with his bare hands…..ooops! i got my car mats out and we tried to get him out of the ground(which was too close to the road) well …what an effort….
Years ago my husband and i came across one that had been clipped by a car,he was right on the centre line of the road we got him easily as he was hurt and we took him home popped him in a cat cage in the bath tub….reason being they can dig right into your floorboards! he was kept dark and quiet and taken to the rescue centre…
Six weeks later he was released back into the wild close to where he was found.
The other interesting thing is they are so territorial that they eat only the specific ants in their zone,this was the problem the shelter had with the injured one,trying to get a specific feed that he would eat,apparently the smell is so important and he was requiring a special mix of Humic acid in his food to get him to eat
Echidnas also have one mate..they meet up at that same time each year make a family then go their separate ways,this is why i am so careful on the road as you never want to seperate this lovely couple of creatures.I love that they feel comfortable here on our property,i respect them and apart from taking their pictures i only ever intefere if i think they are too close to the doggie yard..i always pop them back into the bush close to all the ants homes so they can continue their slurping….it is now close to time for them to snuggle down for the winter,they are very sensitive to cold and have a small window of temperature tolerance,and so as Al disappears…hairy little legs taking him away for the winter,i bid him farewell…and hope to see him next summer .