Echidna Surviving Bushfire Video Echidna's Bushfire Survival Tactic

Echidna after a bushfire

Photo: Echidna walking in land burnt out by bushfire

Echidnas are the only Australian animals that are incredibly well adapted to survive bushfires. Australian bushfires are terrifying events. Raging fires with flames over 13m (42ft) high tear through tinder-dry vegetation at breakneck speeds, incinerating almost everything. Only a charred, desolate landscape remains after such a fire—and, of course, the echidna.

So how do echidnas do it? What survival tricks do they use?

The echidna survives by digging itself below the surface of ground. The layer of earth above it protecting it from the scorching flames and heat overhead. It then hibernates, lowering its metabolic rate drastically thereby reducing its oxygen requirement and allowing it to breathe the toxic oxygen starved carbon dioxide rich environment of its underground shelter. Following the devastation of a bushfire the echidna emerges from the safety of its underground shelter. Because food is scarce after a bushfire, the echidna compensates by lowing its body temperature down by as much as 20 °C and metabolism and goes into frequent states of torpor (mini hibernations) for as long as three weeks enabling it conserve energy and live through the hard times.

Echidna - A Living Relic from Early Mammals