One of the luxuries of living in the Australian bush is the unusual ‘visitors’ we get. So, far in the three years we have lived in Bellbowrie, Queensland, we have had some interesting ‘visitors’. We have had the slithering kinds, the furry kinds, and scaly kinds, and two days ago, a spiny kind.
My younger son Chris and his friend Flynn were downstairs in Chris’s workshop and they heard a noise of something knocking thinks over. With their phone lights, they saw a dark mop run to the corner and wedge itself between a child’s chair legs. I kept these chairs for children’s art classes. Even when they had switched the lights on, they could not tell what it was. When they got closer, they were surprised and started yelling in excitement. We all rushed downstairs to see what it was.
Wedged between the small chair legs was a frightened little spiny ‘visitor’ – an echidna. The poor echidna was so frightened that it rolled up in a ball with its head between its front legs. The boys carefully removed the chair to take the picture above and then put it back. We never got to see its face and after half hour or so, with the lights off, it disappeared.
Judging from what I saw and the image Chris and Flynn took, this spiny visitor was a short-beak echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus). It is also known as the spiny anteater. There are five sub-species of this echidna in Australia. The Echidna generally is a highly adaptable creature and can be found in coastal forests, alpine meadows and interior deserts of Australia. They weigh up to 6 kilogrammes and can grow up to 45 centimetres. Read more here
After all this time, this spiny ‘visit’ finally solves the mystery of the half-moon shape hollows dug into the base of plants in my garden. The markings would have been made when it was looking for ants, baby roots and worms to eat. I have been blaming my chickens and the bush turkeys for these markings.