Animal Info - Long-beaked Echidna
(Other Names: 原针鼹,
Bogoso, Domu, Echidné à Bec Courbe, Echidné à Nez Long, Echidné de
Nouvelle-Guinée, Echidnos Narilargos, Egil, Equidna-de-Bruijn, Equidna de Nueva Guinea, Laimup,
Echidna, Long-nosed Spiny Anteater, Malabiso, Micun, Namakolo, Natafem, New Guinea
Long-nosed Echidna, Saangi, Siaburu, Spiny Anteater, Yakeil)
1. Profile (Picture)
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where
Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Birth Season, Birth
Rate, Early Development, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Social
Organization, Density and Range)
Echidna #1 (9 Kb JPEG) (Czech Web
Echidna #2 (47 Kb JPEG) (Wildlife
Echidna #3 (38 Kb JPEG) (Terrambiente)
The long-beaked echidna weighs 6 - 16 kg (average 9 kg) (13 - 35 lb (average 20 lb)).
It has spines of varying length interspersed with fur on its back, sides and tail. The
snout is tubular with a very small mouth, through which the long tongue can be rapidly
extruded and retracted. Its lack of teeth is compensated for by rows of "spikes"
(horny teeth-like projections on the tongue). It is found in humid montane forests on New
Guinea and is mainly nocturnal, feeding on
earthworms and other invertebrates on the forest
floor. It shelters in hollow logs, cavities under roots or rocks, and burrows. A female
long-beaked echidna usually lays 1 egg into a pouch.
The long-beaked echidna is found in New Guinea (Indonesia
(Irian Jaya) and Papua New Guinea), where it is
widespread. However, it appears to be extinct in large areas of the Central Highlands, and
it is absent from the trans-Fly plains and from most of northern New Guinea at altitudes
below 1200m elevation, as well as all of the North Coast Range.
The long-beaked echidna has declined greatly in numbers where it interacts with man, and
it is found only where human population densities are low. The major reason for its
decline appears to have been traditional hunting - it is a highly prized game animal.
Current threats include hunting with specially trained dogs and loss of forest habitat to
logging, mining and farming.
*** "The echidnas possess some remarkable features. Perhaps most striking is their
extraordinarily large and complex brains and relatively high intelligence, characteristics
entirely unexpected in the world's most reptile-like mammals." (Flannery 1995)
*** The front of the long-beaked echidna's tongue is equipped with "spikes"
located in a groove. The echidna probes with its long beak until the end of a worm is
found. The tongue is then extruded and the worm hooked by these spikes. The worm and
tongue are then withdrawn and the worm swallowed by muscular action of the tongue.
*** The echidnas and the duck-billed platypus differ from all other mammals in that
they lay shell-covered eggs that are incubated and hatched outside of the body of the
*** The spines on its body can be erected and its arms and legs withdrawn, as a
Status and Trends
- 1970's: Indeterminate
- 1980's: Vulnerable
- 1994: Endangered
- 1996 - 2004: Endangered (Criteria: A1ac) (Population Trend: Decreasing)
Countries Where the Long-beaked Echidna Is Currently Found:
2004: Occurs in Indonesia (Irian Jaya) and Papua New Guinea. (IUCN
[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]
History of Distribution:
As of 1983 the long-beaked echidna was found in New Guinea (Indonesia (Irian Jaya) and Papua New Guinea) and possibly on nearby Salawati
Island. It is widespread in New Guinea, having been reported from both the western and
eastern extremities of the island. However, it appears to be extinct in large areas of the
Central Highlands, although it was hunted there within living memory, and it is absent
from the trans-Fly plains and from most of northern New Guinea at altitudes below 1200m
elevation, as well as all of the North Coast Range. It occurs in the Lorentz National Park
and in the Arfak Mountains, Tamrau Selatan, and Salawati Utara Strict Nature Reserves.
Threats and Reasons for Decline:
The long-beaked echidna has declined greatly in numbers where it interacts with man,
and it is found only where human population densities are low. The major reason for its
decline appears to have been traditional hunting - it is a highly prized game animal. It
appears to have declined in the Telefomin area over the past 20 years, at least partly
because traditional taboos against eating it have begun to break down under missionary
influence. Current threats include hunting with specially trained dogs and loss of forest
habitat to logging, mining and farming.
Data on Biology and Ecology
The female long-beaked echidna weighs 7.4 - 9.8 kg (average 8.6 kg; N = 2) (16 - 22 lb
(average 19 lb)); males weigh 5.9 - 8.0 kg (average 7 kg; N = 8) (13 - 17 lb (average 15
lb)); and animals with undetermined sex have weighed 10 - 16.5 kg (average 13.3 kg; N = 4)
(22 - 36 lb (average 29 lb)).
The long-beaked echidna has been reported from a wide variety of altitudes, including
locations at sea level, in rainforest at 600 m (1970'), and at 4150 m (13,600'), where the
area is comprised principally of alpine meadows.
It occurs in the Maoke Range Alpine Heathlands and the New Guinea Montane Forests Global
200 Ecoregions. (Olson &
Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein
Reproductively active animals have been caught in July.
A female long-beaked echidna usually lays 1 egg into its pouch.
The eggs of the long-beaked echidna are soft-shelled and hatch after 10 days, whereupon
the young remain in a pouch, dependent on the mother's milk for about 6 months.
At least 31 years (captivity).
The long-beaked echidna is insectivorous. Its
diet consists almost exclusively of earthworms. Termites and other worms are also eaten.
The long-beaked echidna is primarily nocturnal.
It forages on the forest floor and is a powerful digger. In southern Chimbu, local people
say that the long-beaked echidna digs short, shallow burrows with no nesting material
inside. (Flannery 1995)
The long-beaked echidna apparently is solitary.
Density and Range:
1.6 individuals/sq km (4.2 individuals/sq mi) of suitable habitat (data tabulated in
1982) (Cross 1997)
Arkive, Burton & Pearson 1987, Cross 1997, Czech
Web Site, Flannery
1995, IUCN 1994, IUCN
1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN
2003a, IUCN 2004,
1992, Macdonald 1984, Monash Univ., Nowak
& Paradiso 1983, Olson & Dinerstein
1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999,
Terrambiente, WCMC/WWF 1997, Wildlife
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Last modified: January 9, 2005;