Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 17:35 EDT

Western Long-beaked Echidna

The Western Long-beaked Echidna is one of the four surviving echidnas. Fossils of this species also occur in Australia.

The Western Long-beaked Echidna is present in New Guinea, in regions from 4,265 ft (1300m) and up to 13,123 ft (4000m). It is absent from the southern lowlands and north coast. Its preferred habitats are alpine meadow and humid mountain forests. Unlike the Short-beaked Echidna, which eats ants and termites, the Long-beaked species eats earthworms. The Long-beaked Echidna is also larger than the Short-beaked species. They get up to 36.4 lbs (16.5 kg). The snout is longer and turns downward, and the spines are almost indistinguishable from the long fur. The claws on the fore and hind feet make it unique. Normally, it has three (rarely four) claws.

The species is listed as endangered. Its numbers have been decreased by reduced habitat due to human activities and hunting. The Long-beaked Echidna is a delicacy. Although, hunting the species has been banned by the Indonesian and Papua New Guinean governments. Traditional hunting is permitted.

Platypuses and echidnas are the only known mammal species to lay eggs.

Western Long-beaked Echidna