Today I was driving along Culburra Road, south from Nowra, when a car coming the other way, suddenly stopped, flashing its lights. A man got out of the car, and stood on the road in front of the car. It looked puzzling, till we drew up opposite them and realised there was an Echidna on the road, and the guy was trying to stop it from walking across the road, where it would have been at great risk from passing cars.
The lady then got out and grabbed some "welding gloves" from the boot. Turns out they were Wildlife Rescuers who had received a call to go and collect a baby Brush-tailed Possum the mother of which had been killed by someone's "pet" dog.
Here is the baby Possum
|baby Brush-tailed Possum|
I was surprised how much it looked like a Kangaroo, with its short fur, and lack of the normal markings. But the "hands" on the front legs were very obviously equipped for climbing, with sharp claws and a thick pad on the "thumb".
While going to answer that call, they had seen the same Echidna, and had moved it off the road.
Having collected the Possum, they were returning home, on the same road, and found the same Echidna trying again to cross the same road. They are notoriously persistent.
|Echidna being held by the rescuer who stopped it from getting run over|
That's where they were up to in this story, when we arrived.
I sought permission to take a few images, and they agreed.
This Echidna was merely half-grown.
|Echidna - close up shot. It kept wriggling and hiding its face.|
|Echidna's snout which includes its nose, and the very long tongue|
They moved the Echidna for the second time - this time to the far side of the road, where it apparently wanted to go.
For overseas guests to this Blog, an Echidna is an ant-eating marsupial animal (in fact they have preference for breaking into termite mounds to get the larvae). It and the Platypus are proto-marsupials*** which lay eggs, yet suckle their young. *** I have been corrected on the use of that term. I should have stuck with just calling them "monotremes" but thought that was going to be too confusing. My instinct on that was right. Check out this article on Monotreme taxonomy.
Echidnas are notoriously stubborn about crossing roads, and they are frequently killed in the process. I have written about one I found freshly killed when crossing another road.
There is an interesting article about the biology of Echidnas, and their rescuing, at Fourth Crossing Wildlife