Perth Zoo’s groundbreaking Echidna breeding program has produced two puggles (baby Echidnas) and a breeding milestone: These puggles represent the first successful breeding from zoo-born Echidnas and have shown that Echidnas breed at a younger age than previously thought.
The puggles were born to four-year-old first-time mothers
Mila and Chindi, both bred and born at Perth Zoo. The new additions were named Nyingarn (Nyoongar
for Echidna) and Babbin (Nyoongar for friend). The puggles weighed less than one gram each
when they hatched in August and spent their first two months in their mothers’
pouches before being deposited in nursery burrows. DNA testing will reveal the
“Until now, it was believed female Echidnas did not breed until the age of five so these latest births have shed new light on Echidna reproduction,” Environment Minister Bill Marmion said. The groundbreaking work of the Perth Zoo’s Short-beaked Echidna breeding program could help conserve its endangered cousin, the Long-beaked Echidna. The Perth Zoo has produced eight of the 24 Short-beaked Echidnas that have been bred in captivity.
Short-beaked Echidnas are part of a group of mammals called monotremes. Females lay a single egg, which is incubated for about 11 days before it hatches. The baby, called a puggle, completes its development in the mother’s pouch. As adults, Short-beaked Echidnas are covered with spines. They feed on insects, which are collected with their long, sticky tongues.
Photo Credit: Perth Zoo