An echidna puggle called Beau

by Matthew Cobb

The great baby animal site Zooborns has this account of an echidna puggle (ie baby) which was found in the countryside near Sydney. Echidnas are spiny monotreme mammals, so they spend much of their early life in their mother’s pouch. Beau may have fallen out. He was picked up and taken to Taronga Zoo, where they are looking after him.


He’s a cute looking feller:


He’s drinking milk from a dropper at the moment – he only needs to be fed every day or so!


(All photos:  Ben Gibson / Taronga Zoo)

They also posted this video:

And when he’s grown up, he will be displaying his four-headed penis (oh yes). Here’s a video of a zoologist doing the necessary. NSFW, or anywhere else,  I reckon:

h/t @samjamespearson


  1. Bennet
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    I think you’ll find echidnas are monotremes, not marsupials.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted October 24, 2012 at 6:16 am | Permalink

      Yikes. Fixed.

      • lanceleuven
        Posted October 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        Call yourself a biologist! 😉

    • ichneumonid
      Posted October 24, 2012 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      Females don’t, apparently, have permanent pouches like kangaroos for example, but develop temporary skin folds in which the egg is incubated, and which puggles leave at about 2 months of age.

      Which, when you think of it, is a nice evolutionary intermediate in monotreme/marsupial evolution!

  2. Posted October 24, 2012 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Still preferable to a four-headed deity.

    • RFW
      Posted October 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      The pre-christian culture of the Slavs had a four-headed deity. Wikipedia has some interesting material under the heading “Slavic Neopaganism” and “Zbruch idol”. Be aware that the former of these articles is evidently controversial – check the talk pages on Wikipedia.

  3. Chris Lilley
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    First thing I thought of!

    • DrBrydon
      Posted October 24, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Damn! Beat me to it.

  4. Hempenstein
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Four-headed? Crimony! Opossums are bifurcate. Is this something that goes with having a pouch?

    • Dominic
      Posted October 24, 2012 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      Yes but it looks as if only the two on the right (its left) are being used on this occasion. Do they alternate? Are they aimed at the left and right oviducts?

      • Hempenstein
        Posted October 24, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        IIRC, the possum vagina is bifurcate, too. Evolution seems to have clearly shown that while it apparently worked OK, it was a case of over-engineering.

  5. Posted October 24, 2012 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Oh, my.

    First the article on barbed cat penises…now one on four-headed echidna penises…you really must be trolling for Google hits!


    • Posted October 24, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      PZ’s domain of expertise has been conspicuously usurped.

      • gravelinspector
        Posted October 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        What? The squidly one has a thing for hectocotyli? Quelle surprise! Not!

  6. M'thew
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    See also:

    (Content warning: video contains strong language and derision of Australia and Australians.)

  7. blitz442
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    That baby echidna looks a bit like the keyboard player in Jaba the Hut’s lair in Return of the Jedi.

    • lanceleuven
      Posted October 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink


  8. BilBy
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Fed from an eye dropper only every 2nd day or so? Wow. How does that compare to platypus? I mean, is it due to being a monotreme or due to being a myrmecophage (low energy diet, slow growth)?

    • RFW
      Posted October 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Notice that this puggle is lapping the milk up off a zookeeper’s skin. Are monotremes like marsupials in that milk is secreted from flat patches of skin and lapped up, rather than nursed from a breast by suction on a nipple?

      • RFW
        Posted October 25, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        To answer my own question, it turns out that my premises were wrong. It’s the monotremes that “sweat” milk. Marsupials have nipples, though not, it appears, breasts per se. (But the same can be said of cats and many other placental mammals.)

        So, yes, by lapping milk from the zoo keeper’s skin, the puggle is dining in much the same manner as with his (her?) mother.

  9. Posted October 24, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I read the title of this post thinking: that’s the first line of a limerick begging to be written, that is …

    • Posted October 28, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      I agree, but I’ve yet to come up with any inspiration….


  10. Posted October 24, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Come here cutie! C’mere, c’mere, c’mere! c:

  11. lanceleuven
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Awww, in that first photo he looks like a mini elephant.

  12. Dominic
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    They must have very sensitive snouts as their eys look feeble. Do their noses share the electroreception of the platypus?

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