Nicol_et_al._2007_The_life_history_of_an_egg-laying_mammal2C_the_echidna_Ecoscience.pdf (794.83 kB)
The life history of an egg-laying mammal, the echidna
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-25, 22:45 authored by Nicol, SC, Andersen, NA
Echidnas have a low metabolic rate, and energy expenditure is reduced even further by the use of torpor and hibernation. Thus echidnas appear to lie at the slow extreme of the fast-slow continuum, and this is reflected in many aspects of echidna life history: a long life, a long lactation period, and a single young which matures late. Reproductive activity occurs in mid-winter, shortly after arousal from hibernation. After a pregnancy of about 3 weeks the female lays a single egg into her pouch, which hatches after 10 ‚Äö- 11 days. Initially the young is incubated in the pouch before being left in the nursery burrow while the mother forages for ants, termites and other invertebrates. Lactation lasts for 150 - 200 days, the duration differing significantly between geographic regions. Growth rates during late lactation are very high, and, when weaned, the young has reached about 40% of adult mass. The young loses mass before entering its first hibernation, which extends from early autumn to late spring. The young echidna reaches adult mass after about 3 - 5 years.
Rights statementBased on a paper presented at the symposium Mammalian life histories: the basics revisited " held during the Ninth International Mammalogical Congress Sapporo Japan August 1-5 2005."