“Didn’t your mother tell you it was impolite to stick out your tongue?” The short beaked echidna or spiny anteater was having none of my nonsense. With a tongue that appeared to be as long as his head, the tachyglossus aculeatus lapped at his food as though it might be the last morsel on earth.
Say that name ten times and your tongue may end up as long as the one darting about the room from Mr. Echidna’s mouth.
I would love to say that we found the echidnas doing there impression of a prickly scrub brush in the wilds of Tasmania. No such luck. Our encounters with the short beak echidna was in captivity. Believe it or not there is a long beak echidna. I imagine his tongue to be the length of a garden hose.
Short Beaked Echidna A Curious Creature
Echidnas are toothless and that’s not due to poor dental hygiene. Those speedy tongues are up to six inches in length. No room in there for teeth apparently. Named after their fast tongue (tachyglossus), the echidna laps up insects, termites and worms. Delicious! Well if you are a spiny anteater.
Echidnas host the world’s largest flea. How hospitable of them. I wonder if the flea prefers the short beaked echidna residence over the long beaked? As a flea I would presume it might be rather dangerous living conditions near those super sonic tongue grabbers.
Baby echidnas are called puggles. Like the platypus the ehchidna is a monotreme or egg laying mammal. The puggle hatches into Mama echidna’s pouch beginning life as the size of a jelly bean.
I can not resist saying, “Who would not want to snuggle a puggle?” A baby echidna nurses from glands in the female pouch. Echidnas have no nipples. Who knew?
Echidnas form mating trains. Lining up one behind the other nose to tail, the male echidnas begin their path to romance. A female echidna leads the train of prospective suitors. Males play an extraordinary follow the leader game of endurance. An echidna mating train can go on for up to a month! Talk about playing hard to get.
The most unusual Short Beaked Echidna fact of all!
What might be the most unusual fact about echidnas? The male echidna has a four headed penis. Could that explain the month long mating train? In contention for weirdest animal fact ever, the echidna only uses half of the quadruple tool to fit in the female’s double sided reproductive tract.
You just never know when you will need that piece of trivia!
Below a the short beaked echidna demonstrates the fastest tongue in Australia.
What is the most unusual animal you have seen or heard of?