Bruny Island Wildlife - Echidna

A close up frontal view shows the powerful claws which are used to dig for food


The Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) is found throughout Australia but is quite common in Tasmania. The Echidna belongs to a class of mammals called monotremes.


Echidnas live in caves, burrows and under vegetation. They have no fixed home and roam around. They avoid hot weather as they cannot sweat, and hibernate during winter.


Echidnas roam around looking for food in rotten logs and anthills. Their diet mainly consists of ants, termites, worms and insect larvae. They have strong limbs and claws which they use to burrow and break apart soft logs. The snout has electroreceptors for detecting prey and they have long sticky tongues which they use to capture their food.

Echidnas are solitary animals except during mating season. When threatened they will burrow into the ground or roll up in a ball, leaving only the spiny part of their body exposed.


Echidnas are not currently endangered.

The main threats to echidnas are habitat destruction, motor vehicles and other animals which hunt them for food.

Captive breeding programs have been largely unsuccessful.