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  • Echidna (spiny anteater) is a representative of the order of Monotremata. The platypus, very popular animal in Australia, also belongs to this order. Australian echidna’s habitat are the western and eastern parts of the Australian mainland and New Guinea and Tasmania. Scientists divide echidnas into two genuses. The first one is called long-beaked spiny anteaters. There are three spices in the.

    The second genus is divided into two spices of echidnas – they are spiny anteater from Australian and Tasmanian echidna. This genus has the name of “real echidnas.” The species within the genus are derived depending on the habitat of these animals.

    Echidna’s appearance resembles little bit a porcupine. The body of spiny anteater is covered by short harsh hair, also there are long needles with a length about 5 cm along the whole back.

    Echidnas’ have an interesting feature of the physiological structure – the animal’s mouth has an unusual shape like a beak. This structure allows the animal to gather food from narrow holes and crevices in the rocks. It must be noted that echidna is a small beast up to 30 cm of length, has four well-developed limbs and strong claws to dig. The animal cleans its wool from parasites by rear paws. Besides, the adult males have small spur on their hind legs. However, in contrast to platypus, it has no connection with the poison gland. The weight of spiny anteater is about 3-4 kg. Tasmanian echidna is slightly larger, and can reach up to 53 cm in length. Echidnas have no teeth.

    Echidna is a solitary animal, everything, starting from looking for a place for nesting till finding “hunting grounds” it doing by itself. The main food for these animals are ants, termites and small invertebrates. Echidna catches its prey by a tongue, which has a sticky surface. The pray The pray is glued to the tongue and is swallowed.

    But with the start of mating season, which takes place in winter, echidna’s way of life has fundamental changes. Spiny anteater‘s reproduction is rather rare: every two or even three years. After fertilization, the female of echidna lays eggs. In most cases, it is the only one egg. It is noteworthy that echidnas do not hatch eggs in the traditional sense. Egg is placed inside their brood pouch and is incubated till a litter will hatch.

    Typically, the offspring is born within 10 days. Echidna feeds its young with milk. However, this process also is very specific – they feed not through nipples but by pores are on the body, called “milky box.”

    A calf remains in the mother’s brood pouch from one and a half till two months. After that, needles start to appear at the baby’s body, and mother is forced to “evict” it from the bag. A caring mother “builds” for her offspring a hole in the ground, in which they stay constantly. While the young stays at a safety place, mother goes out for a hunting to get food for her children and herself.

    Males have a secluded life, occupying only the territory they control, guarding it carefully and consider it own “hunting area.” In addition, echidnas are excellent swimmers.

    The main “competitive advantage” of the animal is an excellent eyesight, with an impressive speed they are able to notice even the smallest movement nearby. It’s worth to say that this animal is not aggressive and having felt something is wrong, the animal prefers to flee rather than confront.

    Echidna has an interesting mechanism of defense – it rolls up into a ball and bristles its needles , superficially resembling a hedgehog. However, this ball can be “unwound”. Dingoes, foxes and lizards are the main enemies of echidnas. These enemies, together with anthropogenic factors put echidnas to the brink of extinction. The species of spiny anteater is enrolled to the list of endangered in Australia.