Australia has the only two monotremes in the world. A monotreme is a mammal that lays an egg. The two types of monotremes are the echidna and the platypus. I’ve never had a platypus in care – but I have had a few echidnas, see my earlier posts. The baby echidna is called a puggle. A puggle this size would never been seen. It was found wandering because we presume it’s burrow washed out with the rain because normally it would just stay there waiting for mum to return. It was such a privilege meeting this one!
Once pregnant, the female echidna moves the egg into a temporary pouch that she creates using the folds of her skin on her belly. When the soft shelled, leathery egg hatches – out pops a furless, spineless, naked, fetus puggle! The puggle remains in the folds of the mum’s skin (pouch) lapping milk from 2 milk patches – echidnas have no teats. Once the puggle’s spines start to develop, around 7 weeks of age, the mother creates a nursery burrow and leaves the baby there! Who wants to carry around a spikey kid nestled in the folds of your belly?! Ouch! This is the reason we rarely see puggles! The baby is left alone in the nursery for days at a time – while mum is out and about and she only returns to feed her young about once a week! This is why, if you ever see an echidna near a road or around your garden – please leave it alone! Move (chase) the echidna off the road, in the direction it is traveling, but never remove them from their area. There maybe a burrow somewhere with a puggle that the mum will eventually return to!
Since echidnas don’t have teats, puggles can’t be bottle feed in care like wombats and bats. Therefore, to feed puggles, we use specialized milk which is placed in a low container for them to lap. In the above video we are trying to establish feeding by using our hands. This specialized milk must be incredibly high in fats to enable it to only be fed once a week or so!
Puggles are eventually weaned around seven months of age. It will then remain in care, living in it’s burrow for a few more months after that. Then it will be released back into the wild. Luckily echidnas are independent and less likely to bond with any carer – so release should be easy.
Stay tuned for my next adventure…! Thanks for reading my post and for your interest in our remarkable wildlife! ❤️🐾🐾