Today, I have photos of no less than two in two days which were "playing" around the edge of local roads. Both survived their dangerous adventures.
This first one was in splendid condition, with lovely long spines, and judging by the fresh green grass, and the soft sandy soil, it was doing nicely. Unfortunately it was beside the busy Illawarra Highway, right at the top of Macquarie Pass, on a Friday late afternoon, when the road was very busy.
You can see it firstly just clinging into the lush green grass, in its normal reaction to being approached by a person - tuck everything "in" and just cling onto anything..In the second image, it has started to dig straight down into the soil. It does this by pushing the soil underneath its body more or less straight out sideways. When the soil is soft, as it was in this case, then this is a very effective digging technique. And of course, it tucks its head down, and the huge brush of spines on its tail protects its rear end (visible on the left)
Then on Saturday afternoon - the next day - Jim and I spotted this little Echidna going for a walk beside the Jamberoo Mountain Road, on the Budderoo Plateau (sandstone country). By contrast, the soil here is very dry and stony.
Oops, I've been seen!When this fellow realised it had been "spotted", it headed for cover - in this case a dead log lying on the ground. I was surprised quite how quickly it headed off.
With its head down, under the log, the very heavily protected tail stands out, with the distinctive long yellowish spines. This little Echidna had a very poor set of spines. The old spines were broken off in many cases. I had thought it was young one, which had simply not yet grown a good set of spines on its back (an assumption based upon its small size). But on close inspection, there were spines there, where the tips had been broken off.This is the same Echidna, taken from the other side of the log. This is its head end, but of course, the delicate head is hidden by being poked down low to the ground, under the log. Given the stony soil of this exposed area, the strategy of ducking its head under a log makes good sense.