I've long been fascinated by the echidna, that strange monotreme (egg laying mammal)—with its little round body covered in spines, clawed feet that are perfect for digging, cute beaky snout, and, for the males, its, well, hmmm… interesting four-headed penis.
I was delighted to learn this week that researchers from Curtin University in Perth, Australia, have recorded—perhaps for the very first time—echidnas communicating with each other. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) explains:
In what is believed to be a scientific first, researchers from Curtin University have obtained recordings of short-beaked echidnas producing a range of sounds including cooing, grunting, and wheezing.
"It means we better understand how echidnas behave and interact with each other," said Christine Cooper, who has been studying the animals at Dryandra National Park near Narrogin, Western Australia.
"We were really pleased because the first time we heard it, we didn't have any mechanism with us to record it and we were like, 'Oh, that's really unusual'," Dr Cooper said. . .
While it was suspected the creatures made noises, there had never been solid proof before.
To record the sounds, the research team used hand-held microphones, as well as a camera and microphone that was left outside the entrance of a cave frequently visited by echidnas.
Now that researchers know echidnas do vocalise, the next step is trying to figure out what they are saying.
Researchers speculate that the sounds have something to do with mating—ABC describes them as "the sounds of echidnas flirting," as the vocalizations seem to only occur during breeding season.
To hear the recordings, you can click through to the article to listen or watch this video shared on Facebook from ABC Canberra. ABC describes the sounds as "cooing, grunting, and wheezing," which are great descriptions. To me, the echidnas on the recording sound like something like a cross between a dove cooing and a tiny horse neighing. However you describe them, they're 100% adorable!