Shelter selection and home range of echidnas

Wildlife Research 25:219-232 reported ...

Shelter selection and home range of echidnas, Tachyglossus aculeatus, in the highlands of southeast Queensland

This study, conducted on a sheep property, investigated the physical attributes of sites used by nine echidnas for daily shelter or as places to hibernate. Shelters are used to protect the animals from extremes in temperature; during the middle of the day in summer, and from the cold in winter. As this study was conducted inside the dingo fence, the echidnas had little need of protection from predators.

The home ranges of the echidnas ranged from 20.6-93.3 ha (av 49.8ha), overlapped, and were related to the size of the animal with larger animals having larger home ranges.

Previously it was known that echidnas hibernated in areas that regularly receive snow. This study found that the animals in the Stanthorpe/Texas area of south east Queensland, which has frequent frosts and occasional snow in winter, hibernated also.

For sheltering during the day, hollow logs and depressions under the roots of fallen trees were used most often with more than 90% of these sites on north-facing slopes. Hibernation sites had 100% cover but did not face in any particular direction; commonly rabbit burrows were used as they offered better thermal buffering from the outside environment.

One of the interesting results of this study was the existence of differences between echidnas in the type of shelter used suggesting that individuals actively selected their shelters and did not use the first shelter they came across.