At this time of year and at least half a dozen times a week I receive calls regarding echidnas. Most calls are from members of the public who have found an echidna in their garden and want it removed. Under the rules of our Code of Practice we are not allowed to relocate any wildlife species, of course there are shades of grey in everything, with the echidna it may be the family dog, or sometimes the family, causing grief to the poor creature who has inadvertently wandered into the garden or other unsafe area. Of course there are lots of other questions also.
To all rescuers, carers, etc. please remember that from October, perhaps a little earlier, until sometime as late as the following February, females may have secreted a puggle in a safe burrow which may be quite a distance from where the echidna has been spotted. Therefore if you must move an echidna, then it must never be moved more than a short distance from where it was found, injured echidnas that need only short term care must also be taken back to as close as possible from their pick-up location. Failure to do this may result in the death of a puggle that has been left in its maternal burrow.
you cannot with 100% accuracy externally tell the sex of an echidna unless you are fortunate enough [and the echidna is unfortunate enough] to receive one that is carrying an egg or is still carrying the puggle. Unfortunately eggs or puggles generally are dislodged from mum under any type of stress. The pouch is not the ‘typical’ type. You may see a depression on the lower area of the abdomen, it is bounded by two vertical ridges of muscle that run along the mid-line of the animal and can be seen in both males and females. Pregnant females enlarged mammary glands thicken these ridges and form the pouch. Once the puggle has been deposited in a burrow the ridges may lessen in size and it once more may become difficult to accurately tell the sex.
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT WE NEVER MOVE AN ECHIDNA, OR ANY ANIMAL FAR FROM ITS PICK-UP POINT. IT IS VITAL THAT ECHIDNAS ARE NEVER MOVED FAR FROM THEIR PICK-UP BETWEEN SEPTEMBER AND FEBRUARY. AND REMEMBER DON’T TRY TO SEX AN ECHIDNA, AT BEST YOU WILL BE 50% RIGHT……OR WRONG. IF IT IS DURING THE PUGGLE SEASON YOU MAY CAUSE THE UNECESSARY DEATH OF A PUGGLE. PLEASE DON’T TAKE A CHANCE.