18 April, 2009

Bertie and the Echidna

Echidnas are cute but, until now, I didn't know just how cute. I saw one near the house once. It must have been young and confused because it was quite small and trying hard to be invisible when Bertie (the dog) trapped it in a corner. (For those who don't live in Australia or New Guinea, an echidna is a monotreme - an egg-laying mammal - which resembles a large, variegated, long-spined hedge-hog, or smallish, short-spined porcupine.)

I suppose Autumn must be a busy time for echidnas because Bertie seems to be finding them everywhere these days and is developing a bit of an obsession with them (although not as bad as the obsession he has with the feral cat he chased up a tree a few days ago!) Today he found the specimen below in our little orchard.

To help you make sense of this picture, this is a full-grown echidna - maybe 30cm long (that's a foot in old money) - desperately trying to bury itself in the ground. The little group of spines on the right is the echidna's tail. It's head is well buried.

It was still digging when I shot this picture - and slowly disappearing. I imagine this is a fairly good defence. It certainly had the dog flummoxed as all the poor little dimwit could get to were spines. It was pretty creepy too. It looked like some kind of evil cactus, pulsating as it slowly sank into the soil, probably digesting the last dog foolish enough to put its snout too close.

And, in honour of Bertie's first birthday (which was two days ago) here's a shot of him looking into our current echidna problem.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I went to check this morning and the Echidna has had the good sense to creep away in the night. It has left quite a large hole behind which SOMEONE will need to fill! Love Wifie

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