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Definition: echidna from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Toothless, egg-laying, spiny mammal of the order Monotremata, found in Australia and New Guinea. There are two species: Tachyglossus aculeatus, the short-nosed echidna, and the rarer Zaglossus bruijni, the long-nosed echidna. They feed entirely upon ants and termites, which they dig out with their powerful claws and lick up with their prehensile tongues. When attacked, an echidna rolls itself into a ball, or tries to hide by burrowing in the earth.

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echidna


Summary Article: echidna, in zoology
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(ĭkĭd'nə) or spiny anteater, animal of the order Monotremata, the egg-laying mammals. A short-legged, grayish brown animal, the echidna is covered with sharp quills and can protect itself by rolling into a tight bristly ball. It may reach 18 in. (46 cm) in length. Padded soles and stout claws make it a clumsy walker but a strong and rapid burrower. The echidna has only a rudimentary tail and lacks both external ears and teeth. With its sensitive muzzle and long sticky tongue it probes for ants and termites. It is nocturnal and hibernates in winter. There are two genera and several species of echidna; all are native to the sandy and rocky areas of New Guinea, E Australia, and Tasmania. Females produce one or two eggs, which are deposited in a rudimentary marsupial pouch. The newly hatched young remain in the pouch, feeding on a milky fluid, until their spines begin to grow. Echidnas are not closely related to true anteaters, which are higher mammals. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Monotremata.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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