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(Tachyglossidae), a family of oviparous mammals. There are two genera, consisting of the true, or shortbeaked, echidnas (Tachyglossus), with two species—the Australian (T. aculeatus) and Tasmanian (T. setosus) echidnas—and the New Guinea, or long-beaked, echidnas comprising three species. The best known is the Australian short-beaked echidna. The echidna’s body, attaining a length of 50 cm, is thickset, and its back is covered with spines. Its legs are short and thick, with strong claws adapted for digging. The rear legs have spurs, particularly well developed in males, which are connected with a poisonous gland by an internal duct. The tail is extremely short.

Echidnas possess a number of primitive characteristics: they lack teeth, and the female’s oviducts lead into a cloaca. Body temperature fluctuates between 22°C and 37°C, depending on the ambient temperature. In contrast to most mammals, which give birth to live young, the female echidna usually lays a single egg and carries it in a pouch on the abdomen. The developed offspring breaks the eggshell with an egg tooth, which then falls off. The young feeds by licking the thick excretion of the tubular milk glands. When the offspring begins to develop spines on its body (having attained a length of 8-9 cm), it leaves the mother’s pouch and hides in a small burrow dug by the mother. Echidnas live in thick underbrush, feeding on ants, termites, worms, and other invertebrates, which they extract with a long tongue covered with sticky saliva. The echidna is a nocturnal animal.


Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 6. Moscow, 1971.


References in periodicals archive ?
Paying attention to the weather or climate is not the same as paying attention to the habits of echidnas or honeyeaters.
How Echidnas Are Born An echidna's egg is soft and leathery.
The Island's prolific wildlife includes kangaroos, koalas, seals and sea lions, echidnas and rare birds.
Butterflies dance and echidnas shuffle until they reach the riverbank where a crocodile is sleeping.
Washington, Jan 12 (ANI): A new study has unlocked some surprising traits of the echidnas.
In fact, the platypus is a member of a mammalian species called the menotremes, which includes only four other subspecies (those being echidnas, varieties of spiny anteaters).
Two long-beaked Echidnas, a primitive egg-laying mammal, simply let scientists pick them up and bring them back to camp to be studied.
Marsupials and native mammals such as wallabies, bandicoots, echidnas and various possums are seen in increasing numbers, and over 120 bird species have been identified by BOCA ornithologists.
As well as the obligatory Kangaroos, there are also other weird and wonderful creatures, including Echidnas, a sort of native hedgehog, which spent most of their time scrapping over some water.
This exhibit," says Rich, "is a crusade of mine to make the world aware that in addition to platypuses and echidnas [spiny anteaters] and all the weird animals we have in our fauna today, we're finding that there are many more strange animals from the past that are unique to the continent.
Captain Kangaroo in coat and cap takes off with his animal passengers, complete with heavy travel bags, soon after the ground crew of echidnas check out the plane.
The linking of this fossil to the platypus lineage would have meant that platypuses and echidnas diverged more than 112.