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Echidnas are monotremes. Monotremes — two species of echidnas as well as platypuses — are mammals that lay eggs. (In fact, there's some controversy about whether they're mammals at all.) When threatened by predators, echidnas curl up into little balls with their spines sticking out. Wild monotremes live in and around Australia.
If you watch the Disney movie The Rescuers Down Under, there's a brief shot of an echidna in one of the early sequences. The main character, a boy named Cody, refers to him as Nelson.
Hustle up Nelson, Faloo's sounding the call!It's not a speaking role, though.
Here's an article about long-beaked echidnas.
... plump, terrier-size creatures abristle with so many competing notes of crane, mole, pig, turtle, tribble, Babar and boot scrubber that if they didn't exist, nobody would think to Photoshop them.
Thanks to my sister Alisa for forwarding the link to me.
The Oklahoma City Zoo has echidnas!
I'll post pictures soon.
Here's a story that Don Herbison-Evans (email@example.com) of Sydney told me (reprinted with his permission):
... Anna and I came across an Echidna recently trying to cross a busy road .... We stopped and pushed it with a shoe across the road (it was too prickly to pick up) which was easy as it rolled into a ball when approached. It seemed vey grateful and rapidly unrolled and shuffled off up the bank on (new) side of the road. I must admit that that is the first time I have seen one in the wild since I came to Australia in 1967. ...
And here's a story by Ellen Suter (reprinted with her permission):
I saw your echidna link while looking for dance venues. Have you ever tried to pick up an echidna? I worked at the LA Zoo about thirty years ago. At the time, they had two echidnas. The echidnas were "adopted", which means that a patron donated money to sponsor their display and in exchange, they had a little bronze plaque attached to the cage with the donor's name. The echidna's sponsor was Frank Zappa. Anyway, echidnas have something strange happening with their feet, so if you take hold of them, which looks difficult but isn't really - the spines are very thick and not prickly, and pull, nothing really happens. I have no idea why. At the time, I never got an opportunity to look at the soles of their feet, but I swear it felt like they had suction cups. I suppose they were just holding on with claws, but whatever the mechanism, it really worked!
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