Short-beaked Echidna

Stuart Humphreys

Australian Museum

Australian Museum
Sydney, Australia

Short-beaked Echidna
Tachyglossus aculeatus

The Short-beaked Echidna is Australia’s most widely distributed terrestrial mammal, and one of only five monotreme (egg-laying) mammal species in the world. The scientific name Tachyglossus means ‘swift tongue’ which echidnas use to feed on ants, termites, earthworms, beetles and moth larvae.

Echidnas have short strong limbs and are great diggers. Their front feet have flattened claws that can shovel through leaf litter and their hind feet point backwards to push material away. When threatened Short-beaked Echidnas quickly dig into the ground, protecting all their soft parts and leaving only their sharp quills exposed.

Distribution: widespread in Australia and south-eastern Papua New Guinea
Conservation status: Least Concern
Evolutionary distinctiveness: Medium


  • Title: Short-beaked Echidna
  • Creator: Stuart Humphreys
  • Publisher: Australian Museum
  • Rights: Australian Museum

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