Adorable tiny echidna puggle to be raised in captivity

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, October 23, 2012 15:50 EDT
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Echidna puggle at Taronga zoo
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A tiny echidna puggle is being hand-fed by a staffer at the Taronga Wildlife Hospital of western Australia after being found on a walking trail.

The short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) is a relative of the platypus, according to the San Diego Zoo’s Animalbytes website.  They’re also known as spiny ant-eaters, even though they aren’t related to the North and South American animals known as anteaters.

As baby dogs are called puppies and baby foxes called kits, baby echidnae are called “puggles.”  The echidna puggle in this video got separated from its mother somehow.  It may have fallen from her pouch, a feature that echidnae have in common with marsupials like kangaroos and koala bears.

Now named “Beau,” the little puggle hasn’t grown any spines or fur yet.  Annabelle, the vet nurse caring for Beau, said that in all of her years caring for sick or hurt echidnae, she’s never seen one this young.  Mother echidnae have no teats, but rather flat milk “patches” on their bellies, so Beau the puggle drinks milk from the flat of Annabelle’s hand.

Beau is estimated to be about 40 days old and the puggle’s sex is unknown.  It will be months before vets will be able to determine whether Beau is male or female.  Echidnae have an average captive lifespan of around 40 years, with the oldest in captivity having reached the age of 50.

Watch the video, embedded via YouTube, below:

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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