Echidna puggles in care
April 29 2014
The big day arrived on April 29, the Puggles were ready for release. They were given a good feed in the morning and then transported to a safe location for release.
They were placed near a hollow rotting log and two of them went straight into the log and started digging for termites and insects. Another puggle did the Echidna thing, froze and started to dig straight down to become invisible. Another was so excited that it did not know which direction to go, first one way at quite some speed ( yes Echidnas can actually got some speed up when they feel like it ) then it turned around and went a different direction, all the time scratching and digging, sniffing the air. It was the most wonderful sight watching these little ones go. They certainly knew exactly what to do.
After a little while we left them alone, we went away for a few hours and came back to make sure they were all ok. Not a single Echidna was to be found, but it was easy to see where they had been. The ground was scratched, leaf littler was disturbed and if they were still close by we were not able to find them which is how it should be.
March 26 2014
The 5 Echidna puggles are now in the final stage before release. They have been transferred to a large outside enclosure and will spend the next 4-5 weeks adapting to life in the wild, learning and recognising the sounds of the bush. They have been given large rotting logs full of termites which they have to pull apart in order to find their food. Logs have also been hidden below the surface of their enclosure giving them the opportunity to search out and dig which in turn will build muscle and strength.
They are still fed a special Echidna milk mixture in order to ensure they all get the correct nourishment until such time as their carer Sharon is satisfied they are able to forage and find enough food to meet their requirements.
They are seen here having their special Echidna milk mixture after which they all had a big sleep.
It can be tiring work moving logs and digging for termites.
Remember our Echidna puggles that came into care back in September 2013?
Image shows as they were introduced to termites for the very first time, they knew exactly what to do. They were so excited, ripping apart the log and sticking their long tongues into the timber extracting the tasty termites.
They came in separately a few weeks apart. Some were highly compromised, others were in good condition but unfortunately for a variety of reasons orphaned. They were a mere 4 weeks old when they were orphaned. Back then it was hard to imagine they would every look like Echidnas as they had no spines.
Now 4 months later their spines have grown, they now eat all by themselves and even though Echidnas are solitary animals these five puggles love to snuggle up together.
It has been a very long road for all of them, but with loving care from Leoni all are thriving.
They still have some months in care learning how to forage for natural food. The time has come to introduce them to rotting logs, leaf litter and a bit later on termite mounds.
They are becoming very inquisitive and decomposing logs has now been provided for them to tear apart with their strong claws searching for insects.
Images by Sharon McGrigor, Leoni Byron-Jackson and Sue Ulyatt
How they all came into care below
23 October 2013
We certainly know it is Echidna breeding season in the Northern Rivers, yet another Echidna puggle has come into care this time from Ettrick near Kyogle.
The little one fell out of mums “pouch” after mum echidna had been disturbed by a dog. The dog owner hoped that the little puggle would be able to get back into the pouch but as far as we know puggles are not able to climb back in once out of the pouch.
Echidnas do not actually have a permanent pouch; instead they have contracting muscles in their abdomen, which forms a pouch-like fold. The puggle stays in the “pouch” for approximately 2.5 months until it starts to develop spines, at which time mum will leave it under a pile of mulch, hollow log, burrow or any suitable sheltered space. She returns to feed the puggle every few days.
If the puggle as in this instance falls out of the “ pouch” it is as far as we know lost, as mum cannot pick it up and the pouch-like fold will not stay in position.
This little puggle now named Etrick was left where the dog owner first found it close to mum, he returned the next day to find it still there alone.
Our puggle specialist was contacted as soon WIRES member Jane had picked up the little fellow and he/she is now in care with Leoni. Etricks weight is only 90 gram when in fact it should be around 200 gram. He is in other words in big trouble but he is in good hands and Leoni is doing everything possible to save his life.
Should you find a puggle please call our hotline immediately on 66281898, these animals are extremely heat sensitive and need specialist care as soon as possible. Our hotline will give you advice on what to do until help arrives.
8 October 2013
Our puggle specialist is being kept busy with yet another Echidna puggle coming into care this morning. This little one was found alone in a garden at Homeleigh, trying to escape the morning sun by digging into the soil.
Homie as he/she has been named has bruises on his back, side and feet, how that has happened we do not know. Weight is a mere 389 grams.
Homie has now been rehydrated and settled down for a well deserved sleep.
How Homie was orphaned we do not know as mum echidna was not seen. A puggle this size would still be safely tucked in to mums " pouch" as spines are not yet long enough for mum to put her youngster in a burrow.
The heat of the sun is an enemy to a little puggle like this as they are extremely heat sensitive. How lucky Homie was found early in the day before the sun intensified.
Leoni now has three puggles in care all more of less the same size. All are being tube fed as they are yet too small to drink by themselves.
Please remember to call WIRES immediately if finding an animal in distress, it can mean the difference between life and death for an animal such as this little puggle.
Images by Lib Ruytenberg
UPDATE October 18
Homie now has little spines appearing all over his/her body, eyes are almost open and is no longer being tube fed, able to drink special echidna formula all by himself.
25 September 2013
Ian from Chilcotts Grass called WIRES immediately when he found this little 160 gram Echidna puggle walking on his concrete driveway in the full sun.
What has happened to mum is not known, this little one should still have been in mums "pouch"
Echidnas are heat sensitive, please be aware that Echidnas currently are likely to have a young in the "pouch" , if you should accidentally hit an Echidna please check nearby for a puggle that may have rolled out.
WIRES NR Echidna puggle intensive care specialist is currently doing everything in her power to cool the little one down, he/she is in trouble as being in the direct sun for possibly extended time had severely compromised the health of this tiny animal. We will keep you updated.
If you should find a puggle, please ensure it is kept cool until help has arrived, an ice brick in weather like we are currently experiencing must be close by the puggle in order to keep it cool. You can place the puggle in a jumper and an ice brick close by, do not put the puggle directly on the ice brick.
Temperatures above 30 degrees are fatal for this species.
Image by Leoni Byron Jackson
UPDATE October 18
Chillie as this little one was named, is starting to change colour which means spines and not far from coming through, eyes are still closed.
8 September 2013
Please be aware that many female native animals are currently carrying young. This little Echidna puggle came in to care last night after mum echidna was hit by a car at Byron Bay. The motorist stopped to check on the Echidna and noticed a little grey blob nearby. It was the puggle that mum Echidna had been carrying in her "pouch"
The Echidna does not have a permanent pouch, her pouch develops when she lays her egg, once the egg has hatched in her pouch she carries the puggle in her pouch until spines start to develop. The puggle is then left in a burrow dug by mum, she comes back to feed her young every few days.
Please take care on our roads and if you should accidentally hit an Echidna please check for a puggle nearby.
Little Byron has a long way to go, he/she is very young, currently in care with WIRES Echidna puggle intensive carer Leoni.
Mum Echidna is severely injured, her fate is not yet clear but all is being done to save her life.
Image by Leoni Byron Jackson
UPDATE October 15
Unfortunately mum Echidna did not survive, however her puggle is continuing to do well in care.
UPDATE October 18
Byron is continuing to thrive in care, spines are now coming through and one eyes has partly opened
Byron is no longer being tube fed, now able to drink echidna formula all by himself.