A four-month-old baby echidna at Perth Zoo lazily stretched and wriggled through its first public appearance this morning, contentedly sitting in the hands of its keeper seemingly unaware of what all the fuss was about.
The puggle, called Babbin after the Nyoongar word for friend, is one of two echidnas born at the zoo in August are the first young bred from echidnas born in captivity.
Babbin was born to Perth Zoo-bred mother Chindi while Nyingarn (Nyoongar for echidna) was born to Perth-Zoo bred mother Mila.
Zoo keepers this morning weighed in Babbin at 377g, far from when the pair first hatched weighing less than a gram.
The puggles spent the first two months of their lives in their mothers’ pouches before being deposited into a nursery burrow.
It is too early to determine the sex of the animals but zoo keepers hope they will be male, as all of the other echidnas bred at the zoo so far have been female.
Perth Zoo Australian fauna supervisor Arthur Ferguson said echidnas only had to feed their young once every three to five days but cameras placed inside the burrows showed the echidnas were good mothers.
“She’ll guide the puggle under her pouch to help it suckle, she’ll kind of nudge it and move it, and some of the mothers will meticulously backfill the nursery burrow to make sure the little puggle is safe and sound.
Environment Minister Bill Marmion said Perth Zoo had successfully bred eight echidnas in captivity.
He said it had previously been thought echidnas did not breed until the age of five but the latest puggles were born when their mothers were four years old.