It’s echidna breeding season and we’ll be seeing a few more wandering about the streets of Alpine Habitats over the coming months. We tend to see an increase in calls to the rescue number from concerned residents who either find an echidna in their yard or are worried about one wandering up the footpath.
The primary danger posed to echidnas in Alpine Habitats comes from traffic. Please, during the next few months when they are mobile SLOW DOWN on our streets and if you see an echidna stop and allow it to cross the road. They aren’t fast movers and need time to cross. Often as a car approaches they’ll ball up so you’ll need to go around or wait till they move off. Or if you feel disposed and have appropriate protection, you can pick them up and move them off the road.
If you find your dog harassing an echidna in the yard the very best thing to do is move the dog away. Chain it up or put it inside until the echidna has a chance to get away. If you are concerned, give us a ring on the hotline and we can come and assess the situation. But we are only permitted to move the echidna a short distance away from your property.
Remember echidnas have been here a long time – just because you don’t always see them in your yard doesn’t mean they’ve not always been there! Relocating an echidna because you are concerned your dog may kill it is actually very detrimental to the echidna who has probably grown up in your location, knows where food, water and danger is, and won’t know the same information in a different location. In addition, during breeding season, if the echidna is female the chances are she has left young in a den and relocating her means a death sentence for the young. Cats and dingos are listed as threats to echidnas, but dogs rarely cause them significant problems.
If you are wanting to remove an echidna from your yard to a ‘safer’ location do not ever use a shovel to do so. Damage can easily be caused to the feet and/or beak. Give us a call. We have rescuers trained in echidna handling.
An echidna will only need to be taken to a vet and/or brought into care if it has been hit by a car or has damage to the beak (which is incredibly sensitive). Echidnas will blow clear bubbles from their nostrils – this is a natural behaviour and helps clean the nose. It is only of concern if there is obvious damage, or the bubbles are pink or blood-stained. This can indicate a break in the beak. Unilateral breaks can sometimes be repaired but bilateral breaks to the beak are a death sentence and the echidna will most likely be euthanised as an alternative to it suffocating or starving to death. The RSPCA wildlife hospital at Wacol is best equipped to handle injured echidnas.
Note that whilst we have trained echidna rescuers, a special certification is required for rehabilitation of echidnas and (according to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection) no Warwick-based carers have this special certification at this time. Our closest certified carer is in Murphys Creek and we can facilitate transport should an injured echidna require prolonged rehabilitation.