A Spiny Visitor


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Curled into a ball, our spiny visitor on the floor of the workshop in Bellbowrie – Picture by Flynn and Chris.

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.

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‘Dame’ here is a male short beak echidna that lives in Australia zoo and is much-loved by all the zoo keepers. Photo: Australia Zoo

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.

 

14 thoughts on “A Spiny Visitor”

  1. Your echidna reminds me a little of the hedgehogs we have in the UK, except that the echidna’s snout looks a lot longer and the body looks bigger overall. Hedgehogs also roll themselves int a ball. Your echidna seems like a pleasant guest to have.

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  2. This is an interesting fellow and a different kind of anteater I’ve heard about. Still, walking into the house? My poor cats would be in a tizzy…well, maybe one would be, the other would try to make friends. 😀

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    1. Thank you very much Tess, and I wasn’t going to rush to cuddle it, but, I saw the ones in the zoo and people just cuddle them. I guess they look spiky but the spines are softer than we think…well until they get crossed. Sounds like one of your cats has your personality (not afraid of anything, nor anyone). 🙂 Love it!

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    1. Hi Gordon, thank you for reading. This is the second one we have seen near our house. There are creeks that run into Brisbane River, near us. The council has declared parts of this area a wildlife protection place, so I have a feeling, there may be a few around. You are right, they don’t show themselves. I have not seen any others, except in the sanctuary nearby. Both sightings have been at night and by accident.

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    1. Hahaha – no, Sue it just walked in, like it owned it. The workshop is an open space. There is a burrowed tunnel away, about 20 metres from the house, under a tree. We think it lives there but we were surprise to see it in the house. It was cool! Two possums live in our roof – but that is quite common in these parts for both possums and pythons to live in your roof. They are all pretty harmless. 🙂

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