After writing a very silly blog post last week, I have decided to lift my game and write about something serious. So today’s topic is going to be hedgehogs.
Well, more than just hedgehogs. I want to add porcupines and echidnas and inform you all of the Earth shattering news that they are in fact not the same animal. Not only aren’t they the same animal, they are in fact three very different species with some surprising news about echidnas in particular.
Let’s start with the hedgehog which belongs to the order Insectivora, which surprisingly eats insects, while the porcupine belongs to the order Rodentia. So it’s a rat with rather dangerous spikes. They are both Eutherian mammals, which give birth to live young.
Now the echidna though is one of the two weirdest animals on Earth. From the order Monotremata, which means it’s not a rat. Here’s what it means courtesy of http://www.echidna.org.uk/details.html .
The name Monotreme comes from the fact that the echidnas and the platypus use the same opening for reproduction and eliminating waste products, which is an attribute that is found in reptiles (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1995). Other reptilian characteristics include the ability to lay eggs, cervical ribs, and that there is “localisation of ascorbic acid synthesis in the kidney (Serena, 1994; p.118).
The long-beaked echidna is found in the humid mountain forests of Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya. The short-beaked echidna is more widely dispersed and can be found throughout Australia and parts of Papua New Guinea. Whereas the platypus is only found in the Eastern parts of Australia.
So an echidna has one hole, lays eggs, produces milk, is a marsupial of sorts and it’s monotreme brother of the platypus that got Charles Darwin into a lot of trouble. It does share one habit of the hedgehog, though. It eats insects. But not rats.
Oh, by the way. Why do they all have spines then I hear you ask. They are a product of convergent evolution. It sounds a bit complicated to me. I might leave you to do some research on that and I will get back to doing something else.