Adapted from an article written by Chrisy Clay for the Ballina Shire Advocate
Please look out for roaming echidnas: winter is the start of echidnas’ breeding season, and it’s when they’ll be regularly seen trying to cross roads in search of a mate. Echidnas are rarely seen any other time. They don’t cope well with warm weather and spend most of their time sheltering from the heat during spring and summer. Winter’s cooler temperatures enable echidnas to be active both day and night. During this time we receive many calls from people concerned about echidnas they’ve seen.
Roads are their biggest hazard, with many echidnas injured or killed each year by motor vehicles. An echidna’s natural defence is to curl into a ball, presenting only their spines, until whatever is threatening them disappears. On sensing an approaching car they dig into the bitumen and curl up, leaving them very vulnerable. Echidnas can often sustain serious, life-threatening injuries after being hit by a car, yet show no outward sign that they are hurt, and many injuries are only identified by using X-rays and ultrasounds.
This is what recently happened to Old Fred, a breeding female. This very large old echidna was hit by a car at Wyrallah near Lismore. Thankfully the driver who hit her stopped and saw that she needed assistance. Whilst Old Fred survived the impact, she damaged her nose when she quickly curled up into a ball on the bitumen. Along with a serious abrasion across the tip, X-rays also revealed two broken bones in her nose. After consultation with local vets at Keen Street Vet Clinic in Lismore and the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, it was decided to rehabilitate the echidna for release back into the wild.
Old Fred was in care for over a month and her broken bones and abrasions healed nicely. After a full recovery she was successfully released close to where she was found, with the help of the person who initially called us for assistance. Thanks to this caring person, Old Fred now has another chance at life.