by Linda Dennis
Snuffles the Echidna with a damaged beak (nose)
Linda and Murray administering antibiotics
The crate Snuffles was housed in during the first few days
Snuffles was moved into a larger enclosure
Todd collecting Echidna tucker - termites and nesting material
A bucket of Echidna goodies
Tucking into termite tucker
(look closely and you can see Snuffles tongue
slurping up the mixture)
Snuffles is a messy eater!
Snuffles nose healed very well
Linda and Snuffles on release day
Snuffles was released at Fourth Crossing
Hiding under a log (see next photo)
Back to bush....
This Echidna, who I named Snuffles, came into care after a rather nasty mishap on a main road.
A friend of mine was traveling home when he saw a ball in the middle of the road. As cars drove past - at high speeds and without stopping - he saw the ball roll from one side of the road to another, and then back again.
The ball turned out to be Snuffles, who had curled herself into a tight ball to try and protect herself. Her spines were no competition to the cars that sped past, but the gods must have been on her side - she was lucky to have survived.
And she was lucky that a kind hearted bloke happened to drive by at that moment and rescued her.
Snuffles didn't come away unharmed however. She had sustained injuries to her beak.
When I saw her my heart sank - beak injuries in an Echidna are rarely repairable as damage usually compromises the strength of the beak which is used to break into termite mounds. Sadly, this kind of injury usually equals euthanasia.
I wasn't entirely sure just how much damage was done so I decided to wait and see what the vet thought, and the next morning I choofed off to my local vet.
Judith x-rayed Snuffles beak and found that the bone underneath was only chipped and she advised me that the damage would heal given some TLC. Yippee!
There was a pretty nasty looking cut on the tip of Snuffles beak (hence her name, the injury made her snuffle as she breathed). The wound was slightly infected and required a short course of antibiotics.
Todd was away at the time, so my neighbours Rob and Jen helped me out as did my my trusty wildlife aid Murray (god love his heart and soul) who traveled down to Fourth Crossing to help me administer Snuffles' antibiotics. This was no easy task however, as whenever Snuffles was handled she would curl herself up to protect her soft underbelly - the very place I needed to put the needle!
The first few days of Snuffles care were inside a heated crate. Echidnas can't tolerate high temperatures so a thermometer was placed inside the crate to ensure the temperature didn't rise excessively.
To keep Snuffles wounds clean the crate was lined with soft towels and not dirt and leaf litter as this may have caused further infection in the wound.
Snuffles slept soundly for the first few days after her ordeal. But as she grew stronger, so did her desire to get out of that crate!! To keep the lid firmly in place I used packaging tape to secure it to the crate.
This was no obstacle for an escaping Echidna!
With all her might she pushed through the gap (that allowed air into the crate) and was on the way to freedom. Pity for Snuffles, I was close by and her escape was thwarted. The escapee Echidna was then moved into a bigger crate - one that she couldn't reach the top of!
As her beak wound had healed nicely Snuffles was given the luxury of dirt, leaf litter and bush furniture in her new home. A heat pad was placed under the dirt in one corner which she loved to sleep on top of at night. During the day she would shuffle around and the bush like setting kept her occupied as she searched for food and dug to her hearts content.
Collecting Snuffles natural food was a daily task. Luckily we have a couple of termite mounds on Fourth Crossing and we cut the top off one to access the tiny bugs inside. After collecting the termites and dirt we would put the lid back on to keep it closed to the weather. After Snuffles had gone it was amazing to see that the termites had completely sealed the lid to the rest of the mound as if it was never there in the first place.
Snuffles loved her termite slurry which had other yummy goodies in it like lean mince meat, egg and calcium. Her long tongue would slurp up the delicious meal quite quickly. She was getting it pretty good at the Fourth Crossing diner and during her time in care she put on 1kg.
Once Snuffles beak had healed and the bone inside was strong again she was ready to be released back into the wild. We chose a great site down the back in the bushy area of our property.
Snuffles quickly shuffled to a hollow log on the ground and squeezed in with only her spiky rump exposed. She didn't move from there for the longest time and we grew bored of watching her backside.
Feeling rather chuffed we went back home to later return to check on her progress.
She was gone.... back to bush.