At our holiday house we are privileged to have an abundance of wildlife nearby. In the ocean we have seen countless dolphins, a few seals, penguins, and on one very special occasion, a whale with its calf, swimming close to shore. I stood mesmerised by that whale and its baby for hours, and incredibly we were the sole watchers on the beach marvelling at these magnificent creatures. On land we have an abundance of wallabies and kangaroos, plenty of rabbits for our dog to chase, wombats, koalas, goannas and on occasion even the odd echidna has made its burrow in our garden. These strange animals are unique to Australia and New Guinea and are shy, egg laying mammals known as monotremes. They have a slender snout, a long flicking tongue, ideal for catching insects and are covered with distinctive sharp spines, (quills) on its back. When it feels threatened it will roll into a small ball, leaving only its spines exposed. The baby echidna begins its life the size of a jellybean, without any teeth or spines, and while it grows quills it remains without teeth! Each quill is made of keratin, the same substance our hair and nails are made from.
They may look extremely cute, however I wouldn’t advise you try picking one up!
“Life can be prickly!”