Posts Tagged ‘wild animal’

The Echidna Diary

April 11, 2010

Wild Animal Story – No.3

My third wild animal story concerns an echidna, another Australian oddity. The echidna is a monotreme. It lays eggs, forms a temporary pouch for them, and then when the eggs hatch it suckles its young with pink milk. The only other monotreme is the platypus.

My echidna experience came when I was driving to a school to teach a religious education class. Half way across the suburban street was an echidna. There was nowhere for it to go, and it’s a wonder it survived the traffic so far, so I picked it up.  This is no easy thing to do, even on a bitumen road surface those claws dig in.

The only things I had in the car were a guitar, a box of song books and a music stand. I steered the ehidna into the box with the folded metal music stand, and resumed the journey. The guitar breathed a sigh of relief.

The kids knew the box held song books, but the echidna was a complete surprise. We opened the box and checked him out. He was lying quite still and this bunch of ten year olds had their first ever close up look at a real live echidna. ‘No fingers, please.’

Then we took him outside to release him. The school backed onto a broad dry creek bed which took rainwater down to the lake. We all stood on the top of the creek bank and I tipped over the box. The little guy was out of there like a shot, then he suddenly saw everybody and froze.

He started to dig. Within a minute he was almost gone. He’d moved enough dirt to sink himself into the ground with only some of his spikes showing, and that is where we left him.

As soon as the class was over, luckily ending at recess, those kids were out of there like a shot. And the echidna? He’d taken the half hour of quietness to disappear into the bush.

Tomorrow I will introduce Australian children’s author Catriona Hoy. Catriona’s new picture book is Puggle.

And a puggle is ???
A baby echidna.
But you already knew that.

See you tomorrow.