They are designed to move dirt. The echidna is one of only two mammals that lay eggs. (The other is the duckbilled platypus.) Every year the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), lays one leathery egg which is about the size of a grape. The egg is put into the mother’s pouch, and it hatches in about ten days. Two patches of pores in the pouch ooze milk and the baby, which is called a puggle, laps the milk from the mother’s skin. The baby hangs on to the mother for weeks as she forages. When it the starts growing spines, the mother will put the puggle into a burrow, and it is on its own.
Echidnas get their food by clawing and poking their snouts into termite hills or ant nests. They flick out their sticky tongues and draw in the insects. The echidnas’ toes point backward on their hind legs and forward on the front. Their short legs slant outward, and they move both left feet at once and then both right feet at once, so they rock as they walk. They may look awkward while walking, but they are well-designed to move dirt. Echidnas spend 12% of their day excavating so that in a single year each echidna will churn up 204 cubic meters of soil. That’s enough to bury 100 full sized refrigerators.
Turning over the soil mixes nutrients and aerates the soil to benefit the Australian ecosystem in which the echidna lives. The echidna improves the soil while removing ants and termites making this animal an important part of God’s design for this planet. Everywhere we look we see testimony to the wisdom of God.
–John N. Clayton and Roland Earnst © 2017