We’re sharing some fun facts about the echidna today on Light Future Art! How many of these surprised you?
1. Echidnas live in New Zealand and Australia. They can be found in wooded areas, where they can forage for their favorite bugs: termites and worms. They are quite sensitive to harsh weather conditions and so shelter in burrows or caves. They sometimes reside in burrows made by other animals, such as wombats and rabbits.
2. Echidnas are classified as either long-beaked or short-beaked. However, neither echidna actually has a beak at all. They have snouts.
3. Echidnas have an average speed of about one kilometer an hour, although they are capable of getting up to about two and a half kilometers an hour on occasion.
4. The claw on echidnas’ second toes is longer than the rest. This is the claw that they use to groom and clean their spines.
5. Like platypuses, echidnas have spurs on their hind legs. Platypuses use their spurs to secrete venom to fight predators. Echidnas, though, just secrete a milky substance that probably helps their scent-marking. There is some chemical similarity between their scent-marking substance and the venom, suggesting that at one point in their evolutionary history, echidnas did have venom.
6. Baby echidnas are called puggles. After hatching, puggles spend another six to eight weeks in their mother’s pouch, until their spines are able to harden. The baby puggles depend on their mother’s milk until they are about seven months old.
7. When frightened or threatened by predators, echidnas curl up into a ball, hiding their vulnerable stomach, snout, and legs behind their spines.
8. Echidnas live for a rather long time, usually at least 50 years in the wild. This is probably in part due to their low body temperatures and slow metabolism. In the summer, echidnas need to rest during the hottest parts of the day. In the winter, echidnas hibernate in burrows. During any time of the year, they can’t enter a restful sleep unless that are around a comfortable 77 degree Fahrenheit.
9. Echidnas are actually very capable swimmers. They have been observed to frequently submerge themselves in water in order to bathe and groom themselves.
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