After about three weeks of tube feeding, (7 feeds) the puggle should be willing to ‘slurp’ or lick up formula from the palm of your hand and once this occurs, it is usually easy sailing thereafter, although it does depend on the individual puggle.

Of the four puggles I have been involved with rearing one slurped from the hand after 3 weeks in care, one did not feed from the hand until she was fully spined and outside full time, another would slurp only 10-15% from my hand and would have to be tube fed the remainder, the other slurped from my hand after 8 weeks in care. This shows how very individual they are.

Once the puggle is fully spined it may require a larger tube for feeding as the smaller 5 gauge can turn around on itself if too flexible and small in circumference. Purchase a larger tube, 6 or 7 gauge in readiness to change over.
After a couple of months feeding from your hand, you can start offering the formula in a shallow dish, until the puggle will accept this method.
Don’t be alarmed at the feeding habit of an echidna, when it slurps its milk from a shallow bowl/plate. It is quite normal for an echidna to insert its beak into and under the milk formula, blowing bubbles from its nostrils to rid the milk, as it slurps the milk with its long tongue.

At around five months of age, it is a good idea to offer solid food, in the form of a slurry made up of termite mound dirt and Wombaroo small carnivore mix.
Mix the ingredients with a little tepid water to a medium paste, and offer in a small dish. Echidnas usually slurp up this food with relish.

I discovered that very young unspined puggles have a ‘fresh’ odour like tee-tree or eucalyptus aroma. They lose this odour once fully spined. They also make peculiar little grunt-like sounds when hungry whilst slurping. It is rare to hear their vocals which is a squeak sound.

At about 5 1/2 months, the echidna should be introduced to an enclosure outside. If you wish to keep an echidna through the rearing period, an enclosure will have to be constructed in readiness for the animal to forage outside. For those who aren’t aware, echidnas can climb! In fact I have seen a fully grown echidna with a sore leg climb a six foot chain fence fence! So a lot of thought must go into the enclosure. They can also dig, so the best way to prevent the puggle from climbing and digging out, is to erect an enclosed area by using corrugated iron. Dig a trench about a foot (45cms) deep, and place the iron lengthways along the trench. The corrugation will prevent the echidna from climbing out, but there must not be any object up against the iron, or the puggle will use it to pin itself between the two objects, and slowly edge itself up and over.
Place its dirt in which it was raised in a container, such as a large plastic rectangle container, positioned on its side, so that the puggle can stay in the dirt or return to it whenever not investigating the new environment. Ensure that the enclosure is situated in a cool area, under protective bushes or similar. Keep in mind that if the temperature is hot, the echidna should have somewhere to keep cool. A large rock pile placed over a hole, is an ideal place for the echidna to get under.

If the echidna cannot be released back to whee it was found, the perfect situation is to be able to release the echidna on your property once it starts to try and escape this enclosure. This is why it would be more appropriate for carers who live in the country to take echidnas for hand rearing, rather than the carer in the city/town, who cannot actually release the animal in suburbia. Being able to release directly from the place of rearing gives a carer the opportunity to access how the animal is faring, and also allows it to come and go and eventually wean itself. This cannot be done if the animal has to be taken away for release.
Obviously the area should have echidnas already inhabiting it, otherwise ensure that the echidna has access to areas where they are known to exist.

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

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