Finally, you seem to be having your nerves under control. You have been eyeing her for months. The lovely brunette with her elegant swinging hips when she walks. Even when she is not there, you can not stop thinking about her. Stunning. And than her smell, the scent is reminiscent of fresh flowers in spring. Not to mention her angelic face, as if it was sculptured by the greatest sculptor from Ancient Greece.
This is it. Time to make your move. Let’s stalk her with your mates and don’t forget your spade! Before you stop reading, this is not some excerpt from “Serial Killer for Dummies”, this is the mating ritual of the echidna. The what? The echidna, pronounced E-KID-NA. Another one of the Australian continent’s miraculous creatures. It is such a unique animal that it is classified in a special class of mammals known as monotremes (which sounds more like a type of ship).
The only other species in this category is the more famous platypus. Without turning this into a biology lesson: the echidna lays eggs like a duck, but suckles its young in a pouch like a kangaroo. That’s right: it is a hedgehog that lays eggs and has a pouch. On a side note: If I was a echidna I would have taken the ability to fly from the duck and the ability to hop from the kangaroo, but that is just my opinion. No criticism intended, but they seem more useful qualities, that’s all.
Anyway, back to the mating bit. When male echidnas want to hook up with a female they queue up with other male echidnas nose to tail, behind a female. So they form a love train, sometimes up to 10 echidnas long.
Believe it or not, these trains sometimes take longer than the Indian-Pacific to arrive at their destination. The whole ritual can take up to 6 weeks. Female echidnas must be very special. However, to underline a male stereotype, if a male sees a hotter echidna it would change trains.
Now we see the only common theme throughout the entire animal kingdom: the female decides what and when anything happens. When she is sick of being on the train she will signal that she is ready. Then things start to get a little freaky.
Mysteriously, the female digs itself in. Talk about playing hard to get. Obviously, after weeks of chasing the males are not giving up that easily. They start digging a trench around the female. Digging a hole for love. As true men, they then try to push each other aside, until only one remains in the trench with the female. Cue fire works.
If anything, this is a wonderful story to mum and dad how little Spike came to this world. Not that he would not believe them.
- Wildlife Wednesday: Echidna (amywhiteheadresearch.wordpress.com)