The echidna is a representative of the order of monotremes (together with the echidnas, this includes the platypus). Habitat - Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania. They prefer to inhabit areas characterized by a temperate or arid climate. At the same time, they equip themselves with dwellings in parks, steppe places or forests.
Echidnas are terrestrial animals, their body length is eighty centimeters, and their weight reaches ten kilograms. Termites and ants are eaten. The front part of the head is elongated, forms a "beak", it is slightly upturned and occupies almost half of the length of the head. The eyes are small. Although these animals are notable for their sluggishness, nevertheless, they swim well. Echidnas do not have very many natural enemies, which, of course, is due to the abundant number of needles.
The claws of echidnas are adapted to perform different tasks. For example, on the front paws, the fingers of echidnas are equipped with curved claws, which are so necessary for these animals to get food - to open nests of termites and anthills. With the longest claw of the hind legs, the echidna works like a comb.
Echidnas have a long tongue. Long and sticky. Its length varies from fifteen to twenty-five centimeters. These features of the language of echidnas serve them for finding and obtaining food. After the destruction of the anthill, it is the tongue that is used, in the back of which there are a large number of teeth. They, along with the hard palatine folds, grind the incoming food.
The thick skin of the echidnas is covered with needles. The needles, the length of which reaches ten centimeters, are modified hairs. Only the belly is free of needles. The needles serve as a means of protection. So, with a possible danger, these animals are buried, only needles are visible on the surface of the earth.
Echidnas don't live in communities. Each individual of this family guards its own territory (echidnas hunt on it). They are always careful and slow. They live separately and secretly. Burrows, rotten stumps and logs, various thickets are used as shelters. Echidna is very rarely seen during the day - they are active mainly at night.
Echidnas have keen eyesight. These animals are able to notice the slightest movement in the immediate vicinity. In the event of a threat, they instantly close in the thickets, among the crevices (or simply burrow into the ground or sand).
With the arrival of spring, echidnas begin their breeding season. After mating, the female lays only one egg, which is then placed in a specially designed bag on her belly. For about two weeks, the female carries the egg, for another three months - the calf itself. He eats the mother's fat milk - and this continues for about six months, even after the baby changes the "living space" - he moves to the mother's back.
Hunting for echidnas is prohibited everywhere. This is due to the fact that a large number of echidnas were destroyed by the aborigines of Australia (for the sake of needles and meat). To preserve these animals, hunting was prohibited on them. The International Red Data Book includes the short-billed echidna and the long-billed echidna.