Baby echidnas are kept in the skin fold of the mother’s stomach where they are initially fed a low fat milk which exudes from the mother’s skin.
When they start to produce fur/spines at between 50 and 63 days, the baby ‘puggle’ is placed in a nursery burrow, either a hole dug by the mother, or a hollow and walled-in to protect the baby from predators.
Once finely spined all over their back, they are fed a high fat milk once every two to ten days, as it takes up to this amount of time for the mother’s milk to replenish and for the baby to digest.
The 2 milks are mirrored by Wombaroo Milk Replacer, the <•30 for spineless puggles, and the >•30 for the spined puggle.

It is extremely important that carers, use a HIGH FAT formula for spined puggles, as it has been found that the universal formulas currently available have not enough fat in their formulas. It is terribly upsetting to hear of dedicated carers losing their puggles after 6 months of care, due to the animal contracting pneumonia once put outside, because it did not carry enough fat on its body.

When rearing a puggle, emulating the animal’s natural environment ensures success. The bacteria contained in soil seems to be of benefit to the puggle, allowing a natural immunity to the ‘bugs’ that would otherwise be of danger to it, if not accessible. Therefore, puggles should be housed in dirt, in a log or similar, as close as possible to their natural habitat.
Some carers in the past have reared their puggles in a sterile environment, resulting in bacterial infections, we believe that by housing them in in a sterile environment we are retarding their natural build up of immunity gained from being exposed to dirt.
A deep container filled with dirt and leaves is a suitable way in which to house young puggles. A log or large circumferenced water pipe (at least 6” or 16cm across) can be placed into the dirt on an angle so that the deepest part is under the dirt and the opening sits on the top of the dirt.
In the log, place dirt and leaves. The goal is to ensure that the soil is deep enough to emulate the earth where it remains at a cool temperature. The puggle can go deeper for a cooler environment.
Alternatively, if living in a tropical environment, a ceramic bath tub can be filled with soil with a log hollow imbedded into the dirt on an angle, the puggle can then choose to either go into the log or burrow into the soil and leaf litter.

As these little creatures are not reared in a pouch, their temperature requirements are that which they would receive in a ‘den’ situation, therefore a puggle should be placed in a constant 25° environment. A thermometer probe can be placed under the soil so that a quick glance can establish the degree s under the earth.
Once puggles are left in the burrow, they only have contact with the mother when she returns to feed it, which can be anywhere between 5 to 10 days, therefore these animals are not nurtured as the marsupial joeys are. We should take note of this factor, and only handle the animal at feed time.

Initially, baby echidnas may have to fed via a feeding tube, as they do not readily slurp formula from the palm of your hand, (although it is still worth a try). To do this, you will require an 8 gauge feeding tube. (We use Argyle feeding tubes).
To establish the length of the tube to be inserted you will need to measure the tube by the following method. By placing the end of the feeding tube at the front of the puggle’s snout, follow the contour of the puggle’s head, up over the head and down the back, until you reach where the last rib extends from the spinal vertebrae. This is an indication of where the stomach is, so mark the spot with a black texta, then carry out the procedure once again, just to check that you have not made a mistake with the measurement.
Puggles can contract their body to about half their extended length, (they act like a witchetty grub!) so ensure when you are measuring the tube to the contour of the body, that the animal is relaxed. (This may require patience).

Copyright © 2003 Lynda Staker - Taken from Lynda Staker's book " Don't Step Backwards "

Back to Echidna index

Back to FRW Home page