Echidna Puggle Earns its Spikes

Echidnapuggle_Australia’s Perth Zoo has unveiled a spiky new addition: a Short-Beaked Echidna puggle.  

Hatched in September last year, this is the second offspring for parents Chindi and Nyingarn, who were the world’s first zoo-born Echidnas to successfully breed in 2015.  The first and second photos show the puggle at 69 days old.  The remaining photos show the puggle at about six months old, looking more like a spiky adult Echidna.

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PleaseCreditAlexAsbury_1Photo Credit:  Perth Zoo (1,2); Alex Asbury (3,4,5)

The puggle, as baby Echidnas are called, is still growing its protective covering of spines and will remain off display in its nursery burrow for a few more months.

Weighing around 3.5 pounds, the puggle is the 10th Echidna since 2007 to successfully hatch at Perth Zoo.  Perth Zoo is considered an expert in Echidna breeding, having significantly advanced global reproductive knowledge of these unusual egg- laying mammals.

Zoo keeper Katie Snushall said, “This species is notoriously difficult to breed, so to have not just one, but two puggles from zoo-born parents; and in consecutive years is a significant achievement.”

Known as monotremes, Echidnas and Platypus are the only mammals that lay eggs. These species are found only in Australia and New Guinea.

It takes about 10 days for a baby Echidna to hatch from the egg. It is then carried by its mother in a temporary pouch for the first two months until its spikes start to emerge, at which point the mother constructs a nursery burrow and places the puggle safely inside, returning only every two to six days to feed it.

In addition to building knowledge about this unique species, it is hoped that Perth Zoo’s successful breeding program will assist researchers in attempts to safeguard the future of the Critically Endangered Long-beaked Echidna in Papua New Guinea.

PleaseCreditAlexAsbury_2
PleaseCreditAlexAsbury_3

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