Head and body length: 60 - 100 cm
6 - 16 kg
Unknown, population thought to be declining
Widely distributed on islands of New Guinea and Salawati, usually in areas of high rainfall.
Think distinct. The long-beaked echidna is one of only three species of monotremes-primitive mammals that lay leathery, shell-covered eggs. Thought it has hair and produces milk, some of its internal anatomy resembles that of birds and reptiles. Because the female lacks teats, she nurses her young through "milk patches" inside her pouch. The echidna also lacks teeth, but has unique backward-pointing spines on its tongue to grip its earthworm prey. External help keep it from becoming prey itself; when threatened, it curls its body into a prickly ball. Uncontrolled hunting remains a huge problem, however, and is making the rare creature rarer still.