This family includes only two genera, each with one species. Zaglossus, the long-nosed echidna, is found in New Guinea, and Tachyglossus, the short nosed echidna, is native to Australia. Echidnas have spines covering their stout bodies. They curl up into a spine-covered ball in a rather effective method of defense. Echidnas are powerful diggers and can wedge themselves into a burrow or crevice with their spines so that they are difficult to remove.
In general, echidnas dig for food, which consists of termites, ants, and assorted invertebrates. Food is located with the help of special electroreceptors located in the rostrum. Echidnas have long, protrusible, mucous-covered tongues that aid in the capture of prey. The sticky mucous coating is produced by enlarged submaxillary salivary glands. Spines at the base of the tongue grind against spiny ridges on the palate to masticate food.
Echidnas are moderately large animals (up to 16 kg for Zaglossus). They have narrow, slender rostra, not at all expanded like that of the platypus. Their skeletons are heavily built, perhaps to accomodate the powerful muscles used for digging. Unlike platypuses, echidnas lack webbing and instead have large, shovel-like claws are present on all feet. Spurs, the function of which is unclear, are located on the ankles of all males and some females.
Echidnas lay a single leathery egg that is kept in the pouch 7-10 days, until the young hatches. The young remains in the pouch another 6-8 weeks, until its spines begin to harden.
Family Ornithorhynchidae Family Tachyglossidae
<<<<<<<>>>>>>>ARTIODACTYLA CARNIVORA CETACEA CHIROPTERA DASYUROMORPHIA DERMOPTERA DIDELPHIMORPHI DIPROTODONTIA HYRACOIDEA INSECTIVORA LAGOMORPHA MACROSCELIDEA MICROBIOTHERIA MONOTREMATA NOTORYCTEMORPHIA PAUCITUBERCULATA PERAMELEMORPHIA PERISSODACTYLA PHOLIDOTA PRIMATES PROBOSCIDEA RODENTIA SCANDENTIA SIRENIA TUBULIDENTATA XENARTHRA