While undertaking vegetation condition monitoring in a private conservation reserve near Ross, two staff members from the DPIPWE Private Land Conservation Program (PLCP), Stuart King (Conservation management officer) and Louise Mendel (Manager PLCP) came across an ‘echidna train’.
Stuart and Louise had just walked down a hill when Louise realised she’d left her camera at the top. Stuart volunteered to race back up to get the camera and fortuitously spotted the ‘echidna train’ from his vantage point there.
“In the breeding season the usually solitary animals ride the peace train”, Stuart said.
“In a train a female leads up to 10 males who will follow her for up to six weeks apparently. There were five in this entourage. The males may change from day to day, leaving one train to join another or going on a solo. There was no aggression between the males, and they all seemed to be having as nice a day as we were”.
Stuart was pretty excited to have witnessed seeing the train, “I have never seen a train before. It made my day”.
According to the ABC Science website:
Echidnas breed in winter so, at this time of year, they’re out and about on the lookout for a mate. Lovelorn male echidnas often queue up behind a female, nose to tail, forming long trains, up to 10 echidnas long. These trains are the first part of the strange echidna courtship and mark the beginning of the breeding season.
Read more about the fascinating nature of echidnas at: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2000/06/01/2688596.htm
Photos Stuart King, DPIPWE