My friend Sally has a job at at the moment which involves going out at dusk with a torch so that she and her colleagues can spot native wildlife living in an area which is about to have a 4-lane highway built through the middle. Sally and her colleagues then relocate the wildlife to a safe area not far away. Sometimes, though, attempts to relocate animals are only partially successful.
This little critter is a ‘puggle’, which is the word for a baby echidna. Sally estimates she’s about 4 months old now and she weighs just over 500gm. Sally found her mother on one of her twilight outings, with the puggle safe in her pouch but as sometimes happens, when the mother was disturbed she ejected the baby and subsequent attempts at reuniting them failed.
Sally has since been hand-rearing the baby (she has a licence to do so, just in case any of you are worried!), and yesterday I was privileged to be part of the evening feeding rituals. The photo quality isn’t great because it was dim light and I couldn’t use a flash…
The puggle currently eats about half a cup of warm milk with “native rodent food” mixed in, which I think is basically crushed dried ants/beetles/worms which reconstitutes itself from a coarse powder into a sludge in the milk! They don’t have teeth, as such, but a series of bony plates and ridges inside their mouths against which I guess they grind up their food.
I have to say it was a very cute baby: very sleepy to begin with and it wouldn’t uncurl but eventually one back leg appeared and did some scratching, followed by the other back leg for a scratch on the other side. Finally a nose appeared, some very mole-like front feet and a tiny tongue. It had a little walk on the grass outside, went to the toilet, and then got on with dinner before curling itself back into a spiny ball and going to sleep.