My Mate the Echidna

My Mate the Echidna

The other day I noticed a magpie dive bombing an echidna in some vacant land at the side of our house.

Action stations – I put on my raincoat and hat and coughed my way over to the scene of the crime. Ping off maggie I yelled (or words to that affect 😉 ) while swirling my arms around my head like a mad woman. The magpie looked at me with some degree of skepticism and reluctantly retreated to the nearest gum tree viewing platform.

It’s not nesting season so my bravery thermometer was on a high reading (if it was Spring I would have still been on the veranda – yelling like a mad woman – hahaha). To approach within metres of a nesting magpie is to be foolhardy in the extreme (unless you are wearing a hard hat with protruding spikes – yes, people do wear these oh so fashionable accoutrements while riding their bikes in magpie country).

On approaching the echnida, with magpie on the retreat, I discovered he (or she) was not fatally wounded or even slightly wounded (very hard to tell with all those spikes). He seemed rather confused and was moving slowly. After five or ten minutes of shuffling around he appeared to get his bearings and scurried into the undergrowth of the dune vegetation that borders our sandy beach here on the shores of Hervey Bay.

I had no idea echidnas (first one I have seen in the wild) were so gorgeous. A lot like a wombat body with spikes (only smaller)

I said goodbye to the ant man and headed back home for a snooze (all that activity and all 😉 and I was still under the weather from the dreaded lurgy).

It was with great delight that a few days later I again saw my mate the echidna hanging about the side of our house, rummaging for ants and other yummy insect type things. I tore my daughter away from her android tablet and dragged her over to see the spine covered monotreme. The boy was stuck to his tablet with something stronger than mere interest (so we let him be).

Here is what happened next (sorry that it is a bit blurry and you might have to turn up the volume to listen to the somewhat ridiculous commentary):

By the way, my mate is a short-beaked echidna (the long-beaked echidnas are only found in New Guinea).


35 thoughts on “My Mate the Echidna

  1. You are brave taking on those damned maggies, Gabe – they are a real menace – I had one just about take off my earlobe on the golf course (well, it didn’t actually touch me but came very close – think it was after the cheap bling earrings I was wearing, haha). The echidna is so sweet – the way he waddles around and ferrets. You are so lucky to have these on your doorstep. We spent Christmas at Kangaroo Valley a few years ago and there was an echidna there which my husband named Eric 🙂

    1. Eric is a good name too 🙂 Magpies can be really scary – I got pecked on the head as a child, walking to school, and just a couple of years ago I was riding my bike through the park up the road here and got dive-bombed – a beak poked at my glasses (on the inside) – twice – I’ve never rode so fast to get out of there – he came back twice (like he was trying to knock my glasses off my head – which nearly did happen) – I felt affronted – hmmm!

    1. Also known as a spiny anteater Tilly (but not like the huge anteaters of South America) – look a bit like a giant hedgehog but apparently not related (who knew 😉 )

    1. It’s the first one I have ever seen alive CGP (but they are mainly nocturnal)- but apparently they are quite common and inhabit a range of diverse habitats – their spiny coat is a great deterrent for soft nosed dingoes and such predators – they can curl up in a tight ball with no soft skin accessible – this is why they are quite placid around people, and non-aggressive – they are used to being left alone. A lot get killed by cars and bushfires and drought, though. They are a fascinating creature, being a monotreme – they are mammals that lay eggs but also give milk to their young (like the platypus) 🙂

  2. That’s a short-beaked echnida?? I’d love to see the long-beaked one! What a gorgeous creature, Gabrielle. We all watched this rapt. (Phil has named him Spiny Norman :-D)

    1. Spiny Norman is a terrific name – go Phil – hahaha (did you know their babies are called puggles – isn’t that adorable). Glad you liked the video Kate and co. – next time I plan to get the focus right (it was a misty type day – well, that is my excuse!)

  3. here we have terns who will divebomb you if you get near their nesting areas, which are on the beach and which are rather impossible not to go near if you walk down the beach, i remember running away from them numerous times as a kid, like in hitchcocks’ “the birds”. i was afraid of them, but i’m not afraid of them any more, i just keep away from their spots and if i accidentally go near one, i keep walking past, ignoring them, they seem to get it that i mean no harm. i havent been divebombed in years, tho who knows, one day i might be surprised haha. and then there are the ospreys who will actually grab small animals right out of their yards. those guys are scary, but good thing they have a distinct sound, most people get alerted they are around before anyone loses a pet.
    i loved watching the echidna video! what a rare looking adorable little critter!

    1. thanks tipota 🙂 I tend not to roam around in nesting season – the magpies that divebomb have usually had a bad experience with humans and never forget – nesting emus in the national park are a bit scary – haha – the males look after the youngsters and if you go near them you could be booted sky high! We have a lot of raptors around here – I’ve heard stories of eagles taking little dogs and chickens – but I’ve had no problems so far. If my chickens see the shadow of a hawk they will scurry under something – a chair or back in the coop – they are very fast when they want to be.

  4. aloha Gabrielle – way cool video. if ANTeny’s walk had a sound i suspect it would have a deep and beautiful warble to it. this was way fun to see. very cool. aloha.

    1. I’m hooked on echidnas now too Nigel 🙂 Absolutely gorgeous – and their babies (puggles) are even cuter. At least they aren’t endangered – quite common in fact – they will probably outlive the human.

  5. I’m surprised that a maggie would show so much antagonistic interest in an echidna … it’s not like the echidna presents any threat to the maggie’s mob … maybe nesting’s coming early and you were far braver than you thought! 😉

    1. I assumed the magpie was trying to eat the echidna Geoffrey (might have been a first time with an echidna and didn’t realise the spikes were just as long as a beak) but you might be on to something – the weather last week was really weird – so hot and humid (in winter) that it felt like summer and it has been raining heaps (which usually doesn’t happen in winter) – this may have confused the birds – it has confused the snakes which apparently started to come out and play (according to the local newspaper). Maybe the echidna was ill and the bird picked up on that – it might have been a different echidna to the one I saw later – so many question – hahaha

  6. That’s a wonderful thing. I’ve been camping and seen an echidna pitch past my feet on all four sealegs, but as for seeing one so close to a house: no, never. I’m freshly curious whenever I remember that they were named after a dragonish serpent-monster. How did someone make the mental leap from that small football thing to a dragon: “the divine and haughty Ekhidna, and half of her is a Nymphe with a fair face and eyes glancing, but the other half is a monstrous serpent, terrible, enormous and squirming and voracious”? (Hesiod: translated by Edmund-White.) Were they paying too much attention to the nose? Was it the egg-laying?

    1. hahaha – yes, it is a big leap to the mythical beastie 🙂 – what were they thinking! Sealegs is a great description – rolling along! Thanks for stopping by and commenting Pykk – always nice to have a new visitor in the blogosphere 🙂

  7. He is beyond adorable. Do echidnas make a noise like a squeak or anything? I’ve always wondered. I would have been beside myself with joy to have seen that little guy. This is my fave video of the year. I love it so much.

    1. They might squeak if you squeese them – haha – I couldn’t hear any noise Selma but I am sure they make some sort of sound – all I could hear was the shuffling of nose and feet. I fell in love with this little fella – yes, beyond adorable, and not scared of us at all – and when I looked up stuff about echidnas I realised how little I knew about them.

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