Cover image for The echidna : Australia's enigma
The echidna : Australia's enigma
Rismiller, Peggy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
[Place of publication not identified] : Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, Inc., [1999]

Physical Description:
128 pages : color illustrations, maps ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL737.M73 R57 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The oldest surviving mammal on the planet is also one of the most intriguing. Peggy Rismiller, the world's foremost echidna expert, traces the history of this fascinating animal that is native to Australia and New Guinea. A combination of mammal, reptile, and marsupial, echidnas produce milk, but unlike mammals, they are egg-laying creatures and, like marsupials, they have a modified pouch for nurturing their young. This odd animal has two backward-facing appendages and two forward-facing ones. These and other bizarre biological traits are discussed in detail in this thorough guide.

Amazing photographs of echidnas enliven Rismiller's text, which includes Aboriginal tribal legends about the animal as well as the latest information on biological research being conducted today. With fossils dating back 120 million years, the echidna lived alongside dinosaurs, but unlike the giant reptiles, it survived. Its story and biology teach a fascinating lesson about endurance, survival, and sustainability.

Author Notes

Dr. Peggy Rismiller has been studying echidnas for over ten years. Born and raised in Ohio, she now resides on Kangaroo Island, Australia, where she conducts her study of echidnas from the Pelican Lagoon Research and Wildlife Centre.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

One of the world's two (along with the platypus) egg-laying mammals, the echidna is a spiny inhabitant of Australia and the subject of this intriguing new book. Little is known about this species. It was not discovered that they laid eggs until 92 years after their first description by Europeans. As insect-eating, burrow-dwelling animals that are well camouflaged and built low to the ground, echidnas are difficult to study in the wild. The author has been conducting field research on these animals for 10 years and may know more about echidnas than anyone. In this book, she distills all that is known about this ancient species into a conversational account for the general reader. Descriptions of her own research give the text a personal touch, and numerous color photographs illustrate all stages of echidna life. The photos of baby echidnas (affectionately known as puggles), especially of one hatching from an egg, are worth the price of the book. Fact-filled end matter round out a very satisfying book on one of our most unusual animals. --Nancy Bent

Table of Contents

Setting the Scenep. 8
The Echidna Chroniclesp. 22
Vive La Differencep. 38
In the Bushp. 56
Monotreme Momentsp. 74
Environmentp. 92
Echidna Myths and Factsp. 114
Glossaryp. 117
Echidnas Outside Australiap. 120
Bibliographyp. 122
Footnotesp. 125
Indexp. 127