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Saturday, 30 October 2010

Interesting Facts About The Long Beaked Echidna

I´d like to share with you some interesting facts about a very peculiar creature that I read about the other day in an article. This amazing creature is called a Long-beaked echidna, but unfortunately it is about to become extinct, unless something is done. Numbers have decreased due to human activities such as hunting, deforestation, mining and farming. The species is listed as endangered by the IUCN.

The Long-beaked echidna is immediately recognizable because of its long snout which makes up two thirds of its head. The snout is tubular with a very small mouth, through which its long tongue can be quickly extruded and retracted. Lack of teeth in the species is compensated by rows of “spikes/horny” teeth-like projections on the long tongue of the animal. Unlike the Short-beaked Echidna, which eats ants and termites, the Long-beaked species eats almost exclusively earthworms, though it may feed on other soil-dwelling invertebrates, and from time to time ants. Another interesting feature about this animal is its hind legs. The toes point outwards so if you look only at its feet, it’s quit complicated to tell which direction the animal is supposed to move. The Long-beaked echidna has spines of varying length mixed together with fur on its back, sides and tail.

The long-beaked echidna is one of the two types (Platypus is the other one) of mammals that lay shell-covered eggs which are incubated and hatched outside of the body of the mother. A female echidna can lay up to 6 eggs at a time which are kept in its pouch until they hatch. After hatching the young will remain in the pouch for around 6 weeks before finally venturing out. Long-beaked echidnas are known to live over 30 years in captivity.

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