A Prickly Customer
Echidnas are out and about in the lead-up to their winter mating period, so if you live in an area with lots of native bush nearby, don’t be surprised if a small spiny visitor visits sometime soon.
Unlike many other native animals, Echidnas are relatively unafraid of people and can pop up in the most unexpected places.
In suburban Melbourne, for example, echidnas have been spotted walking through the door of a post office, asleep under a parked car, and attempting to cross a freeway.
There has been a big effort in recent years to re-vegetate parts of cities, particularly along water courses and creek lines. These new green belts have attracted their share of Echidnas. They are out and about during the day but as the cool evenings draw in they seek shelter.
If you do come across an echidna, don’t assume it is lost. In cities, their biggest enemies are dogs and cats, so these should always be locked up or kept well away until the echidna has moved on. Unless it is actually injured, don’t be tempted to pick it up or move it to another location. It may have a hungry baby in a burrow nearby which is waiting for it to return.
Young Echidnas will remain with their mother in the nest for up to a year, only making their first appearance around spring time. Just wait and it will usually have moved on by morning. However, if the animal is injured, it’s best to call a local wildlife rescue service for advice. If you do need to pick an echidna up, say to get it off a road, make sure you set it down in the direction it was already heading.
DID YOU KNOW?If you’ve ever tried to do a good deed and help an Echidna get off the road, you’ll know just how sharp and strong their spines are. The spines deter predators such as dingoes but also come in handy for securing the echidna in its hiding place.
Echidnas can extend their spines, allowing them to wedge themselves firmly into a rock crevice or hollow log and making it virtually impossible for a predator to extract them.