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Wildlife Conservation Society supports world's first study of egg-laying mammal

velop methods by trial and error. Initially, transmitters were attached to spines, but the constant burrowing and digging of the echidnas resulted in transmitters falling off. The ankle proved to be a more reliable placement point. Home ranges for the tracked echidnas averaged 39 hectares (96 acres).

The study located over 200 den sites, most of which were underground, while others were found in cliff faces and in thick vegetation. One lactating female was found. Other signs recorded in the study were nose-pokes (when the echidna pokes its tube-like snout in the soil in search of invertebrate prey) and digs (deeper holes excavated with the echidna's long claws).

"The limited information on the long-beaked echidna's biology, feeding behavior and ecology has prevented conservationists from formulating plans for protecting this elusive and threatened animal," said Dr. Ross Sinclair, Director of WCS's Papua New Guinea program. "The research methods developed by Opiang and the data he gathered can now help us to manage and protect this rare and species."

About long-beaked echidnas

  • Echidnas are members of the monotremes, an order of mammals that lay leathery eggs, as opposed to placental and marsupial mammals, both groups of which give birth to live young.
  • Echidnas resemble anteaters with long course hairs and spines. They are powerful diggers and possess short legs with long claws.
  • The snout of the echidna ends in a tiny mouth with no teeth.
  • Long-beaked echidnas feed on insect larvae, worms, and other invertebrates (whereas short-beaked echidnas prefer ants and termites).
  • Echidnas and platypuses are more reptile-like than other mammals, with features such as: a more sprawling gait; and a single opening for depositing waste and facilitating reproduction (known as a cloaca, as in both birds and reptiles).
  • Echidnas (both long- and short-beaked) lay a single egg, which the female holds in a sticky pouch. The

Contact: John Delaney
Wildlife Conservation Society

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