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Echidna Fact Sheet


Class: Mammalia

Order: Monotremata

Family: Tachyglossidae

Genus (2): Tachyglossus (short-beaked), Zaglossus (long-beaked)

Species: Tachyglossus aculeatus (Short-Beaked Echidna), Zaglossus attenboroughi (Sir David’s Long-beaked Echidna), Zaglossus bartoni (Eastern long-beaked echidna), Zaglossus bruijnii (Western long-beaked echidna)

Diet: Echidnas feed primarily on worms, termites, ants, and other insects.

Size: The body of an echidna ranges from 35-50 centimeters (13.8-19.7 inches) in length with a tail of 10 cm (3.9 in) and weighs 2-7 kg (4.4-15.4 lbs).

Habitat and Geography: Short-beaked echidnas live in Tasmania and the lowlands of New Guinea and can live in variety of habitats: rainforest, grassland, and desert. Long-beaked echidnas live almost exclusively in high altitude alpine meadows and humid mountain forests in the New Guinea highlands.

Lifespan: Unknown, but has been recorded as up to 50 years in zoos

Additional Facts:

  • Echidnas are one of two known monotremes (egg-laying mammals that produce milk for their young) in the world, the other being the duck-billed platypus, which is also native to Australia.
  • The echidna is sometimes called by the nickname “spiny anteater.”
  • Echidnas have long, sticky tongues which help them to capture insects, which they search for under bark.
  • An echidna’s “spines” are actually hollow, modified hairs.
  • Echidnas are able diggers, equipped with long, rear-facing claws.
  • A female echidna lays a single egg in her pouch, which hatches in 10 days. The baby – called a puggle – says in the pouch for an average of another 4 to 5 weeks.


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