The train passes through Strangways

Although they’re quite common at our place at Strangways, it’s always a special delight to encounter an Echidna. So an Echidna train is a real (and much rarer) treat. On Sunday, three of these gorgeous animals trooped past our front yard in an amorous promenade.

An echidna train on the move. The female is the middle of the three at this point.

Echidnas have a very particular mating protocol, as one would expect for such a prickly animal. When a female is ready to mate, she is followed by a number of males in what biologists call a train. Trains usually consist of 3-5 animals, but up to eleven have been recorded.

The lady leads. She seems to have some damaged bristles on her back.

The males become very focused as they follow the female to whatever place she decides is the safest for mating to occur. The female checked out quite a few logs and old stumps before she moved on. One of the males would periodically sniff at her tail on the way.

On of the males sniffing the female’s tail.

He would also occasionally roll onto his side behind her and push his tail into hers, apparently trying to get in early, but with little interest from the female. Typically, mating waits until the train is in a safe place and the male has to dig his way under her to get access with his tail under hers. During copulation, his penis will grow to 1/3 of his body length.

One of the boys makes a move.
Stopping for a quick scratch during the pursuit. I’d never thought about how an Echidna scratches himself.
One of the boys getting a little left behind.

The train wended around our place until the female found the fence for our chook yard. This aroused the curiosity of our resident White-winged Choughs.

The chook yard beckon and no fence will stop this lady.
Concerned White-winged Choughs look on.

Eventually, the female decided that underneath our chooks’ house was the place. The trio made their way under it, spent the night there and were gone in the morning.

Australian Geographic has an easy-to-read and enjoyable article on Echidna trains at https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2021/08/echidna-trains-explained/

9 responses to “The train passes through Strangways

  1. Exquisite. Thank you.

  2. So beautiful thank you Margot

  3. Thanks for these, we live at Percydale, near Avoca, and used to have a regular echidna train of about 6 go under our house which is quite low to the ground, they do make a lot of noise ?

    Thanks for these regular updates, they are always a joy,

    Cheers Sean Howe

    Sent from Mail for Windows

    ________________________________

  4. Oh Patrick! What a tale! Loved every moment

  5. Pingback: I had to reblog this post by a fabulous local wildlife photographer. (Echidnas are a wonderful creature). The train passes through Strangways – Sharon Greenaway

  6. Such a lovely distraction from lock-downed Melbourne. Thanks, Patrick.

  7. Fabulous facts there, Patrick 😉

  8. Well, I never knew this! Including the scratching part. Thanks Patrick for documenting it. Made my day.

  9. Thanks Patrick. Great info and photos.
    Cheers
    Ross Hatton
    Deep Lead

    Sent from my iPhone

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