Taronga Zoo officials announced on Friday, the 18th of November, that three baby echidnas were born from August 16 to August 30, this year.
Also, it is the first time in 29 years when an echidna is born at the Australian zoo. According to zookeeper Suzi Lemon, echidnas are mysterious animals, so it’s very difficult to study them in their natural habitat. In other words, little is known about the breeding behavior of these animals.
She further added that “All three mothers are doing an amazing job and tending to their puggles as needed.”
The zoo officials haven’t decided how to name the baby echidnas yet. Also, they expect the puggles will leave their burrows on their own in January next year. The tiny Australian mammals weigh around 250 grams, so we can imagine how fragile they are. The three baby echidnas are so young that they have just opened their eyes.
Because they are so small, it’s difficult to determine the sex yet. These enigmatic animals hatch after ten days, and they are carried for about two months in the female’s pouch. Zookeepers explain that the puggles will no longer be cuddly when they become adults as they will develop long spikes and large claws for digging.
These animals usually feed on ants, and they are among the few mammals which lay eggs. They also have a long and sticky tongue with which they catch thousands of termites and ants every day.
Although they don’t seem the best swimmers, echidnas use the rivers to clean themselves and travel long distances. Every year roughly 1.4 million visitors come to Taronga Zoo, which is home to over 4,000 animals.
The three mothers are Pitpa, Spike, and Ganyi, while Pitpa is the last specimen born at the zoo back in 1987. Also, its baby is the youngest of the three. Lemon says that the baby echidnas will sleep most of the day until they leave their burrows.
More precisely, they are usually buried 30 centimeters deep, using all energy to grow. Zoo officials underlined that breeding echidnas in an artificial environment is a very challenging task.
While the three baby echidnas have started to develop their spikes, scientists are doing their best to find out more about this enigmatic species.
Image Source: Perthzoo