Echidna, also spiny anteater, common name for a type of
egg-laying mammal. The short-nosed echidna found in Australia is about 14 to 21 inches
long, exclusive of a short tail. The toothless mouth has an tongue suitable for catching
ants, termites, and other small insects. The New Guinean echidna has a long, curved snout
and grows as long as 30 inches. In locations where ants and termites are abundant, the
smaller echidnas make useful pets; they are long-lived and, despite their bristly coat,
are gentle in disposition.
Encarta® Encyclopedia 2000.
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