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Researching and collecting mammals is essential for understanding how animals and environments change over time, and to help us understand how to best conserve species under threat.

Echidnas and other mammals are collected or donated to the Australian Museum for research by Mammalogists, or for educational purposes. They are sometimes hit and hurt by cars or have died whilst being cared for in a zoo and are then given to the Museum.

  • The overall mammal collection size at the Australian Museum is estimated at 52,500 specimens.
  • Echidnas are toothless, but they make up for it with their long and sticky tongues.
  • Echidna spines are actually hairs and are the main defence mechanism when an echidna is being attacked. The echidna will roll into a ball to protect themselves.
  • A baby echidna is called a puggle.
  • Echidnas are monotremes, or mammals which lay eggs.

  1. What are the external features of an echidna and how are they used for an echidna's survival?
  2. Why is it important to protect echidnas?
  3. What is a Museum's role in protecting echidnas?
  4. How are we protecting echidnas from the illegal wildlife trade?

A DNA test which can distinguish whether a quill is from an Australian or New Guinean sub-species was developed to help understand the illegal wildlife trade of echidnas.

Watch the video to learn about some recent research conducted at the Australian Museum.

Scroll through the images to follow a digital story about how echidnas in the Australian Museum's Mammalogy collections are used in research or for education.

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