Echidnas are small mammals (between 35cm and 45cm and up to 7kg), covered with coarse hair and spines. They have an elongated, slender snout which functions as both the mouth and nose. They have very short, strong limbs with large claws and are powerful diggers. Echidnas have a tiny mouth and a toothless jaw. They feed by tearing open soft logs and anthills and use their long, sticky tongue, which protrudes from their snout, to collect their prey.
The Short-Beaked Echidna’s diet consists largely of ants and termites, while the Zaglossus (Long-beaked Echidna) species typically eat worms and insect larvae. Although their diet consists largely of ants and termites, they are not actually related to the anteater species.
Due to their diet, Echidnas can be found throughout Australia in a range of habitats and climates. Though mostly nocturnal, in mild weather they can be seen during the day. Echidnas shelter under rocks, fallen timber or bury themselves in the ground.
Together with the Platypus, Echidnas are the only surviving members of the order Monotremata (egg-laying mammals). Usually a solitary animal, Echidnas will seek others of their species during the breeding season (Winter). The female will lay a single egg, and once hatched carry her young in her pseudo pouch until the young starts growing spines. Then the female will dig a nursery burrow where the young Echidna will remain until fully developed.