In the latest installment of wild animals doing a little too well for themselves, a plucky echidna with a hunger for life (among other things) has escaped a run-in with an oncoming car with just a few bruises. A picture shared on the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary’s Facebook page shows the larger than life monotreme alive and well following the accident, and the world isn’t ready for her jelly.
Short-beaked echidnas are one of three living species of echidna, sometimes known as spiny anteaters. As a member of the Tachyglossidae family, the branch of monotremes that includes platypuses, they are part of a very small group of egg-laying mammals. These bizarre but fascinating animals are only found in Australia and New Guinea, having descended from a platypus-like monotreme around 40-50 million years ago. They’re coated in fur and spines that provide protection and use their narrow snouts and specialized tongues to track down tiny prey in narrow crevices.
After being clipped by a car, a massive female echidna in need of medical attention was rushed to a veterinarian’s office in Tasmania, Australia. She was later taken to the Bonorong Sanctuary in Brighton, which is Tasmania’s largest 24-hour Wildlife Rescue Service whose army of volunteers rescue and rehabilitate thousands of wild animals every year. Fortunately, after a thorough check over, the echidna was found only to have sustained a few minor bruises.
According to their Facebook post, the portly patient is possibly the biggest echidna the sanctuary has ever seen. The average weight of a healthy female is usually around 2-4.5 kilograms (4.4-9.9 pounds), but speaking to NineNews Bonorong Sanctuary owner Greg Irons reported that this particular individual had achieved an impressive 4.7 kilograms (10.3 pounds). He goes on to say that while it's normal for echidnas to bulk up a little in preparation for winter, it’s unusual to see an adult female so large in the height of the Australian summer and jokes that she might have been "hanging around McDonald's too much".
The Sanctuary’s treatment center is accustomed to seeing echidnas in its waiting room, but it’s more commonly dogs that are the source of the injury. Their wildlife rescue service came in as part of a new hospital launched onsite in 2018, which offers specialist care to the unique wildlife found in Tasmania as well as supporting conservation efforts to protect endangered species such as Tasmanian devils that have been pushed to near-extinction by devil facial tumor disease (DFTD). The Sanctuary is also taking part in the Tasmanian Quoll Conservation Program in cooperation with Devils at Cradle, Trowunna Wildlife Park & East Coast Natureworld in an attempt to stabilize eastern Quoll numbers.
The popular post on Facebook, which has been shared over 4,000 times, shows the absolute unit looking pretty pleased with itself, if not a little weary post-sedation, but if you think that’s bad you should see the car.