Box Jelly fish
A hardy wanderer
They're such wonderful, attractive, enigmatic animals. They have a rolling, waddling gait. Their spines make them look formidable, but they're really quite gentle animals. To see their little beaks and their little eyes looking up at you, it's Lord of the Rings all over. You think: 'Here is a wise little gnome.' Dr. Peggy Rismiller
On a continent teeming with weird mammals, the Echidna is one of the weirdest. It has a beak like a bird, spines like a hedgehog, lays eggs like a reptile, lactates in the pouch like a marsupial, and has the life span of an elephant. For no apparent reason, it may decide to conserve energy by dropping its body temperature to four degrees and remaining at that temperature from four to 120 days. An incredibly smart animal, lab experiments have shown that the Echidna is more intelligent that a cat. They have even escaped fenced enclosures by piling water and feed bowls on top of each other and then climbing over the top.
The Echidna feeds upon ants and termites and wanders about the land looking for new nests. In its walkabout, it pays no respect to any natural obstacle. Echidnas go into caves, under tree roots, deep into soil litter, sand dunes, and below salty surfaces or snow fields. It has been seen using its spikes, feet and beak to climb up mountain crevices like a mountaineer edging up a rock chimney. Although not built for swimming, it has no fear of crossing rivers. Fishermen have found them calmly floating out at sea, patiently waiting for the tide to sweep them back to land. It is found from the semi-arid desert of South Australia to the tropics of nth Queensland.
A toothless and highly specialised feeder, it breaches an ant or termite nest with its forepaws or snout and extends its long tongue into the galleries. Insects adhering to the copious sticky saliva with which the tongue is covered are drawn into the mouth. A considerable amount of soil and nest material is also ingested and this forms the bulk of the distinctive cylindrical droppings.
If threatened, the Echidna will dig deeply into the ground, use its four legs to anchor itself, and expose its spikes to the predator. The same technique can even save it from the worst bushfires. Post-fire they have been found wandering through the smouldering desolation, unharmed except for singed hair.
Activity 1 - Echidna in advertising
Rex keeping the ladies happy
An Echidna named "Rex" was the face of a feature efective campaign ants pants. A beautiful girl lays on the bed with ants crawling on her inner thigh. An Echidna then waddles into the room. The girl smiles and then says "sick em Rex." The Echidna then launches into his work.
Activity 2 - Icon
The Echidna features on the Australian five cent piece and the 1992 Gold $200. Why do you think it has been put on Australian currency?