January 2009
World Book Science Dataset;1/1/2009, p1
Reference Entry
Echidna, or Spiny Anteater, an egg-laying mammal closely related to the duckbill platypus. The echidna is 17 to 28 inches (43 to 71 cm) long and weighs 5 to 22 pounds (2.3 to 10 kg). The body is covered with brownish-black or grayish fur and sharp, yellow spines tipped with black. The echidna has small, close-set eyes located at the base of its bare snout. The feet are flat and broad and have long, curved claws used for digging burrows. The echidna feeds on ants, termites, and worms, which it unearths with its snout and gathers into its mouth with its long, sticky tongue. During the breeding season, the female develops an abdominal pouch, which holds a single leathery-shelled egg. After about 10 days, the egg hatches and the young begins to suck up milk that is secreted onto tufts of hair in the pouch. It remains there until it develops spines, about eight weeks later.


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