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Echidna puggle in good hands after bumpy start

Kamahl Cogdon, October 26, 2020 7:00PM Kids News

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This pint-sized echidna puggle is recovering well with the help of senior keeper Sarah Male at Taronga Wildlife Hospital. Picture: Taronga Conservation Society Australia media_cameraThis pint-sized echidna puggle is recovering well with the help of senior keeper Sarah Male at Taronga Wildlife Hospital. Picture: Taronga Conservation Society Australia

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A pint-sized echidna puggle* is being hand-raised by wildlife experts after a rough start to life.

The young short-beaked echidna is thought to have been snatched from its burrow by a hungry bird of prey before being dropped about 4m to the ground.

Taronga Wildlife Hospital senior keeper Sarah Male, who is looking after the puggle, said it was rescued by people enjoying an afternoon on their balcony on the NSW Central Coast.

“They heard this thud and they looked down and they saw this little guy on the balcony,” Ms Male said.

“They have looked up into the tree and seen a raven and a magpie squabbling around.”

Ms Male said the puggle landed on its back and had “lots of scratches and peck marks” on its body.

The puggle was brought to the wildlife hospital where it was examined by a team of vets and vet nurses, including having X-rays and blood tests, which showed it was in surprisingly good condition. 

Rescued echidna puggle

Ms Male’s job of hand-raising the puggle includes giving it a special echidna milk formula every second day, which the puggle laps off the palm of her hand.

This is followed by a bath, before the puggle returns to its makeshift* burrow to sleep off the feed for the next 48 hours.

“Despite its ordeal*, this little puggle is doing so well,” Ms Male said. “Since arriving at the hospital its lacerations* have almost completely healed, it’s putting on weight and is also starting to grow a thin layer of fur, all of which are all promising signs. 

media_cameraThe echidna puggle is putting on weight and starting to grow a thin layer of fur. Picture: Taronga Conservation Society Australia

“While the puggle is improving every day, it is still very young and in the wild would still be dependent* on mum, so will require ongoing care for the next few months.”

Ms Male said she had hand-raised lots of animals in her time at Taronga Wildlife Hospital but never such a young echidna, which is still too young for keepers to tell if it is male or female.

Echidnas are monotremes, a unique type of mammal that lays eggs and also suckles its young. The platypus is the only other species of monotreme in the world.

The little puggle is one of more than 1400 native wildlife patients that are treated at Taronga’s hospitals in Sydney and Dubbo each year.

Sadly, echidnas are regular patients, sometimes hit by cars or attacked by pet dogs or cats.

The Taronga Wildlife Hospital is running a Wildlife Recovery Appeal to help it continue its important work.

See taronga.org.au/wildlife-recovery

Taronga Zoo annual census media_cameraA grown up short-beaked echidna at Taronga Zoo. Picture: Toby Zerna

GLOSSARY

  • puggle: baby echidna or platypus
  • makeshift: temporary replacement
  • ordeal: unpleasant experience
  • lacerations: cuts and scratches
  • dependent: unable to survive without

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. How was the echidna puggle injured?
  2. Where is the echidna puggle being treated?
  3. How often does it need feeding?
  4. What unique type of mammal are echidnas?
  5. What makes this type of mammal unique?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Acrostic Facts
Choose one of these words – PUGGLE, ECHIDNA or MONOTREME – and write the letters vertically down the left-hand side of your page. Then write facts that are relevant to your chosen word, beginning with each of the letters. Your facts may be taken from information written in the news story or from your own independent research. Finish your work off with an illustration.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science

2. Extension
A synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase.

After reading this news story, print it out, or copy and paste it into a document. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Challenge yourself to see how many words or phrases from the story can you replace with synonyms in the set time. Then, re-read your modified version of the article.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity 
Curriculum Links: English

VCOP ACTIVITY
Stretch your sentence
Find a ‘who’ in the story — a person or animal. Write it down.

Add three adjectives to describe them better.

Now add a verb to your list. What are they doing?

Add an adverb about how they are doing the action.

Using all the words listed, create one descriptive sentence.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Have you ever seen an echidna in the wild? Describe what happened.
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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