Short-beaked echidna or spiny anteater

Tachyglossus aculeatus

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Spiny Anteaters, along with the platypuses, belong to the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals. There are three extant species divided into in two genera. Although their spiny appearance would suggest otherwise, this is the only similarity to hedgehogs and they are not related to them in any other way. Spiny anteaters live in Australia and New Guinea. They are dark coloured and grow between 35 and 53 cm long and weigh between 2.5 to 7 kg. They have strong, short limbs and large claws. Many of the males have a non-venomous spur on their hind feet, and unlike the platypus, this is not connected to a venom gland. The female has a pouch into which she hatches two to three eggs. These solitary, crepuscular mammals make few requirements of their habitat. They have toothless jaws, grinding their food - ants and termites - between the bottoms of their mouth and tongue. They have a good sense of smell and are equipped with electrosensors in their beaks.

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