Friday, 11 April 2008

To the Rescue

The morning sky holds a promise for a sunny day.

Encroaching daylight seeping through a maze of trees.

This grey bush with its cheerleaders was ready to greet the new day.

Last night, more towards morning about 3.30 am there was a commotion. Billy started to bark, (what he never does at night) and didn't stop until we went out to have a look what happened, there was nothing unusual, Billy was reprimanded to be quiet and we went back to bed. The barking started again, and off I went again to have a look. I let Billy out and he went straight to the little corner on the terrace where an anteater wanted to bury himself which was absolutely futile as it is a concrete floor. Peter took a thick blanket and carried him outside. In the morning he was half buried. It was not really a good spot, as it was right in our pathway. We have an area with old trees and scrub especially for wildlife to take shelter. We left him there and not long he started to dig himself in. I hope he has found his home.

Our foundling started to bury himself on the pathway.

Adult Echidna
A Baby Echidna is called a Puggle

Echidna's are Monotremes meaning "egg laying mammals".
The only other Australian monotreme is the platypus.
They are still Mammals meaning they are warm blooded, have a covering of hair and suckle their young on milk, but are different to other mammals in that they (like reptiles) hatch their young from a soft shelled egg.
Echidna's have prickly spines covering their body and have very strong spade like claws for digging.
A female echidna develops a temporary pouch and the egg is hatched there. No one has ever worked out how the mother echidna gets the egg into the pouch but it is thought that she curls her body in such a way that the egg is transferred directly into the pouch. The baby echidna known as a "puggle" is carried in the pouch until it starts to develop spines. When it becomes too uncomfortable for the mother echidna to carry anymore around 4 months of age it is then placed in a burrow dug by the mother. The burrow is then sealed to protect the puggle from predators and the mother returns to feed the baby every 2-3 days. Baby echidna's do not need feeding every day.
Echidna's hibernate in the winter. In hot weather they forage at night to avoid the heat of the day.
It is common to see echidna's blowing bubbles from their nostrils.
They feed on ants and termites.
When an echidna feels threatened it will roll itself into a ball and use it's spines for protection or will dig down into the ground. Once they dig their claws into the soil you cannot pick them up. Their claws act like very strong suction cups.
Rescuing Echidna's
Echidna's are found in almost every suburb of Adelaide and the hills. They have even been found in the city centre.
If you see an echidna and it is not injured or in danger" leave it alone". Echidna's are great to have living in and around your garden. They eat termites (white ants) which means your house is more protected against being demolished by white ants.
When echidna's wake from hibernation they often become disorientated. Many have been found under carports with a brick wall and concrete. All they need is to be turned around and headed back in the right direction. Most have wandered in from local parks or scrub.
Never remove a healthy echidna from the area in which it is found. It could be a female echidna with a puggle in a burrow nearby. If you take the mother away to relocate in another area her baby will starve to death. Echidna's have also been known to try and find their way back home. They then face the risk of having to cross roads and being hit by cars.
Echidna's once rescued need to cared for by an experienced carer with the appropriate experience and facilities. They require a very special diet, housing and care.
Never place an echidna in a cardboard box. They will dig through the cardboard and end up burrowing under the carpet of your car or house. Use a plastic bucket or container with high sides as they can also stretch up and out of a normal bucket. They can also climb up wire fencing. Never put an echidna into an aviary or cage. As they climb the wire they can damage their snouts.
If an echidna is injured and needs rescuing and you are unable to pick it up due to it digging itself into the ground, use a fine spray mist bottle to wet it's head. You will find the echidna will automatically loosen it's grip in the soil enabling you to pick it up.
Use gardening gloves to protect your hands from the spines.
The main cause of injury to echidna's is cars. They are hit crossing roads. We see some that are dog attacks but as they have sharp spines to protect them, injury by other predators is not as common.
Injuries we see the most are broken legs after being hit by cars and injured snouts. Their snouts, legs and belly are the only areas not protected by spines.
If the snout is badly injured, euthanasia may be the only option as their snouts are very sensitive and rely on it to locate food. If the sensors in the snout are damaged the echidna will die once released .
There is no way to sex an echidna other than under anaesthetic. All sex organs are on the inside of an echidna. Both male and female have two folds of skin on the belly of which the female can turn into a temporary pouch.
Fauna Rescue of South Australia INC.

No garden work at shopping...Raphaelle and Fabrizia trying on caps for winter!

Harbour Town Shopping, Biggera Waters, Auntie Jacquie took the girls for a shopping spree!

Beautiful palms line the shopping complex. Ferns are growing in the shade on the bark.

I bought a pair of wellies. The humble wellies have been made fashionable with designer labels.

I just have to put on my cashmere twin set, my pearls and I am ready for a spot of gardening...tomorrow!

Believe it or not:
You buy some flowers for your table,
You tend them tenderly as you're able,
You fetch them water from hither and thither-
What do you get for it all? They wither.
Samuel Hoffenstein 1890-1947


Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Really interesting post.~~Dee

Nancy J. Bond said...

Informative post. I LOVE your new Wellies!

Titania said...

Dee and Nancy thank you for your message.

Rurality said...

Wow, love the Echidna!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting about the echidnas. The girls are beautiful.

Titania said...

Karen/rurality and byrningbunny thanks a lot to both of you for the comments.

Hort Log said...

wow, Echidna in your garden, I like those critters. Is it a wanderer or will it make this a new home ?

Titania said...

Hort log thanks for your message,Echidnas wander in and out. I see some times one, but I never know if it is the same. We have a sanctuary with old logs and hiding places also for lizards and I am sure the odd snake!