Short-Beaked Echidna

Short-Beaked Echidna

Short-Beaked Echidna

Short-Beaked Echidna Range Map (Australia, Tasmania & New Guinea)
Short-Beaked Echidna Range Map
(Australia, Tasmania & New Guinea)

Short-Beaked Echidna
Latin Name Tachyglossus aculeatus
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location Mainland Australia, Tasmania & New Guinea
Colour Brown
Length 35 - 45 cms (12 - 18 inches)
Tail 1 cm (0.4 inches)
Weight 2.5 - 7 Kgs (5.5 - 15 lbs)
Life Expectancy

30 - 40 Yrs (wild)
Up to 50 Yrs (in Captivity)

Main Characteristics

Short-Beaked Echidna are one of only 5 species of egg-laying mammals. They have a body length between 35 and 45 cms (12 - 18 inches), a tail length of 1 cm (0.4 inches) and they weigh between 2.5 and 7 Kgs (5.5 - 15 lbs). Males are usually 25% larger than females.

They are brown in colour with yellow coloured spines on their back and sides. The spines are longer than the fur in between them and they provide the echidna with protection. They have strong, short limbs with the front feet having five long, flat claws which are ideal for digging. The hind feet face outwards and are used to push dirt away and on them they have two longer claws which are used for grooming.

They have a small head with no neck being visible and their tail is short and has no hair on the underside. They have a long snout that is approximately 7.5 cms (3 inches) in length and their nostrils and mouth are at the end of it. Due to their mouth being at the end of a narrow snout they can open it no further than 0.5 cms (0.2 inches).

Short-Beaked Echidnas have a low body temperature that is 30 - 32°C (86 - 90°F). During periods of cold weather their body temperature can fall as low as 5°C (41°F) and they can enter torpor, which is very deep hibernation. During periods of very hot weather they will seek shade as they do not pant or sweat.

When they are threatened they either roll up into a ball or dig a hole so only their spines are exposed. They are active both during the day and at night.


Short-Beaked Echidna are found in a variety of habitats throughout mainland Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea. They are solitary and their range will vary in size according to the resources available. They are non territorial and their home ranges may overlap.


Short-Beaked Echidna feed on ants, termites, grubs and worms. They use their long, sticky tongue to lick up their prey.


Short-Beaked Echidnas breed during July and August and after a 14 day gestation period, 1 leathery egg is laid directly into the echidna's pouch.

After approximately 10 days the egg will hatch and the young echidna, known as a puggle, will be around 1.5 cms (0.6 inches) in length. Echidnas do not have teats, instead they have patches of skin where the milk oozes from. The puggle will suckle from this and they will remain in the pouch until they develop spines, which is at around 3 months old.

When the puggle is old enough the mother will leave them in a nursery burrow while she goes to feed. They will continue to suckle from their mother until they are weaned at 7 months old. They become independent after 1 year.


Dingos, dogs, eagles and humans are the main predators of Short-Beaked Echidna.


There are 5 subspecies of Short-Beaked Echidna, each one found in a different geographical location. They also differ from each other in terms of hairiness, spine length and width, and the size of the grooming claws on their hind feet.

Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus
They are found on Kangaroo Island.

Tachyglossus aculeatus aculeatus
They are found in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.

Tachyglossus aculeatus lawesii
They are found in the coastal regions and the highlands of New Guinea. They are also possibly found in north east Queensland.

Tachyglossus aculeatus setosus
They are found in Tasmania and some islands on Bass Strait.

Tachyglossus aculeatus acanthion
They are found in northern Territory and Western Australia.

Interesting Facts

Short-Beaked Echidnas are also known as:
Short-Nosed Echidna
Common Echidna
Spiny Anteater

A Short-Beaked Echidna appears on the Australian 5 cent piece.

Similar Animals

Eastern Long-Beaked Echidna
Western Long-Beaked Echidna
Sir Davids Long-Beaked Echidna
Duck-Billed Platypus


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