Taronga Zoo has provided a home to a baby echidna which was seriously injured when a bulldozer dug up it’s burrow.
Samantha Elton a keeper at the zoo has taken on being a surrogate mother to the puggle. She feeds it a special milk mixture from the palm of her hand as a result of their unique feeding habits. Echidnas have patches on their abdomen from which they secrete milk that the young echidna can lap it up.
Elton said, “The feeding process was very stop-start at first, but now the puggle is like a little Hoover. It will drink constantly for about 40 minutes, only stopping to blow milk out its nose.”
The young echidna was estimated to be two months old when it arrived at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo Wildlife Hospital before Christmas. A bulldozer accidentally dug it up leaving it with a deep wound to the side of its body.
When it first arrived the puggle weighed 390g (0.86lb) and now weighs 750g (1.6lb) “It is still quite small for its age, but it has almost doubled in size since February and the wound has healed perfectly,” she added. He
It received hand rearing, antibiotics and a temperature controlled burrow in which to nest for a number of weeks after arriving.
Recently it moved to Taronga Zoo where it can receive ongoing care. One it is old enough it will move to the Education Centre at Taronga to become an ambassador for its species in the wild.
Keepers are unable to determine the sex of the puggle as it is still too young.
Samantha named the puggle ‘Newman’ after the Seinfeld character who has similar beady eyes.
Normally an echidna puggle would go off to fend for itself at 200 days of age. Newman will need to grow a bit more though before leaving Samanthas care.
Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo/ Paul Fahy