this is an echidna, or australian spiny ant-eater, Zaglossus sp.

it is one of two living groups of monotremes, or mammals that lay eggs.  and while it doesn't have poisonous spurs like the platypus, it has plenty of spikes elsewhere.  also, it has a very long, thin snoot and tiny eyes, giving it a very amusing, if bewildered, appearance as it digs its way out of the leaf-litter.

inside the snoot is a long, thin tongue used for slurping up ants, termites and other insects.  or a 'low-fat meat mix' used to supplement the diet, if it's in captivity.

this echidna, although understandably burrowed away out of the rain on saturday morning, obligingly trundled up out of the ground (bringing most of its den along stuck to its back) in order to lap at the delicious-looking lunch set out for it at currumbin wildlife sanctuary.  and although it wasn't as cuddly as the more traditionally iconic australian mammals, i think it was one of my favorites.

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