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An Australian SURPRISE … but … WAIT … it isn’t even OUR Blogging Birthday!

Posted by on June 7, 2013

Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns.

~Author Unknown

Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
~James Matthew Barrie

A little SURPRISE arrived this morning ... and what an ADVENTURE we have had!

A little SURPRISE arrived this morning … and what an ADVENTURE we have had! See if you can SPOT the surprise!

We were SO excited to open this surprise package from Ross Mannell:

With GREAT anticipation we watched one of the Battalion Hawk Bloggers OPEN the surprise package!

With GREAT anticipation we watched one of the Battalion Hawk Bloggers OPEN the surprise package!

Oh my GOODNESS … the anticipation was HARD on us! Okay … we knew a LITTLE in advance about what to expect … but ANY time you get a surprise parcel in the mail from Australia is an AMAZING adventure! You see, the FUNNY thing about this surprise package was … it WASN’T even OUR blog’s birthday. It was ROSS’S Extended Comments for Students Blog‘s birthday … the blog he writes for kids and classes AROUND the world to help them in their learning! WHAT? We KNOW what you are thinking … when it’s someone or something’s birthday … THEY are the ones to receive gifts. But … what should NOT surprise you, if you know ANYTHING about Ross, is that HE is a GIVER … of time, of knowledge, of SURPRISES! You see, ROSS is a CHANGE MAKER! Some of our MOST amazing learning has come from our interactions with our OTHER teacher, Ross Mannell, on the OTHER side of the WORLD!

After ALL that we have read ... we are GLAD that this little echidna is "stuffed"!

After ALL that we have read … we are GLAD that this little echidna is “stuffed”!

It was LOVE at FIRST sight … our new “spiny anteater” is ADORABLE! But … that’s not ALL our surprise package contained:

IMG_3580

There was ALSO a special COIN from the Potoroo Palace … a souvenir tourist coin … from Yellow Pinch, New South Wales! MORE research opportunities!

We couldn’t WAIT to introduce our NEW Australian CLASSMATE to our KOALA! But, before doing that, we felt it was important to give our echidna a NAME! Several awesome options were suggested, including Ross, although we finally voted on “Spike”!

Spike ... we would LOVE to introduce you to Slowpoke ... our class koala!

Spike … we would LOVE to introduce you to Slowpoke … our class koala!

The FUNNY thing about these experiences, though, is how they ALWAYS lead us down ANOTHER unknown road toward MORE exciting learning! You should have SEEN us … iPads in hand … searching for ALL the information we could FIND on our new … cuddly, (because he was stuffed), echidna! Ross shared some of his knowledge with us, and an awesome video taken of the REAL Spike at the Potoroo Palace, on his Happy Birthday Post … just to PEEK our interest. And … as ALWAYS … he offered to help us answer any questions we still had.

Our adorable echidna inspired excitement in learning! Photo shared by Ross Mannell

Our adorable echidna inspired excitement in learning!
Photo shared by Ross Mannell

Below are just SOME of our discoveries about the ADORABLE echidna:

Habitat:

  • Australia and South Paupa New Guinea
  • where there is a good food supply
  • by rocks, small caves, fallen wood
  • can adapt to almost any habitat, (grasslands, bushlands, treelands, rocky areas, snow, (they burrow), sand, heath, semi-arid and deserts)

Diet:

  • ants
  • worms
  • termites
  • grubs and larvae
  • beetles
  • use echolocation to find their prey
  • water
  • tear logs apart to find their food
  • use their tongue to lick out termites and ants from their mounds
  • they are carnivores (meat-eaters)
  • they use their large, strong claws to rip open mounds and nests
This the REAL Spike from Potoroo Palace in Yellow Pinch, New South Wales ... check the WHOLE video out on Ross's blog!

This the REAL Spike from Potoroo Palace in Yellow Pinch, New South Wales … check the WHOLE video out on
Ross’s blog

Lifecycle:

  • mating season begins in July and ends in August
  • monotreme … mammals that lay EGGS … the only OTHER mammal that does this is the platypus
  • starts off as tiny egg
  • eggs have rubbery shells … like reptiles
  • ten days to hatch
  • size of a jellybean when they hatch
  • called puggles when they are babies
  • once born, hairless and blind, they crawl into the mother’s pouch
  • after several months, when the spines and claws are developed, they live on their own in the burrow
  • echidnas can live to be 45 or 50 years old

Appearance:

  • spines 2 inches (5 cm) long
  • has a short coat of fur to keep warm and long spines
  • belly is covered with soft hair
  • weigh 5 to 10 kgs (11 to 22 pounds)
  • 30 to 53 cm long (12 to 21 inches)
  • spines made of same material as our fingernails
  • sharp claws which don’t retract
  • sticky tongue – 15 cm (6 inches) long … half their length
  • no teeth (except for when they are born … then they have an “egg tooth” to help break out of the egg … like birds!)
  • in the South they have darker fur … in the North they have lighter fur
  • snout is 7 – 8 cm long (3 inches) on the short beaked echidna
  • short and stalky
  • resembles a porcupine

Other Interesting Facts:

  • can lift things twice its weight
  • echidna means “mythical monster”
  • they can swim
  • they don’t like the heat
  • echidna LOOKS tough but would rather NOT fight
  • tasmanian devil is an enemy, as are fox, dogs, feral cats, eagles, dingos, goannas and humans
  • they can run 30 kms per hour (18 miles per hour)
  • Latin name: kingdom: animalia; pylum: chordata; class: mammalia; subclass: prototheria; order: monotremata; family: tachyglossidae; genus: tachyglossus; species: t.aculeatus
  • also known as the spiny anteater
  • long beaked echidna is only found in New Guinea
  • endangered (because people would hunt them with dogs)
  • horny pads on the back of their tongues instead of teeth

Our NEXT steps will take a little Google EARTH journey to help us learn a little more about Yellow Pinch, New South Wales! Thank you, Ross, for making learning SUCH an adventure! You are a HUGE part of our learning journey!

HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY, “EXTENDED COMMENTS FOR STUDENTS”!

We think you ROCK!!!

We  still wonder:

  • why do people hunt echidnas?
  • is it easy to tell the difference between male and female echidnas by just looking at them?
  • can they ever lay more than one egg at a time?
  • how old are they when they lay their first egg?
  • do people own them as pets … like they own guinea pigs and chinchillas?
  • how do they KNOW where to crawl to get to the pouch, since they are born blind?
  • can they see in colour?

3 Responses to An Australian SURPRISE … but … WAIT … it isn’t even OUR Blogging Birthday!

  1. Ross Mannell

    Hello Battalion Hawk Bloggers,

    I can already see Spike is enjoying his new home in the company of friends. I have let Potoroo Palace know there is another Spike helping people to learn just like their Spike is the centre of attention when visitors learn about echidnas.

    Your echidna facts are amazing. I can see how active you have been with your research skills and I will try to gather the answers to your questions. Potoroo Palace might be able to help with them as well so I will visit them soon. Perhaps one of their volunteer staff will appear on camera for you. 🙂

    To find Yellow Pinch on Google Earth, try searching for…

    Yellow Pinch, New South Wales, Australia

    You can copy and paste this search into Google Earth. Potoroo Palace’s approximate coordinates are…

    36 51′ 34″ South
    149 50′ 05″ East

    While you can see private land, including Potoroo Palace, you will also see large areas of forest much of which is in the South East Forest National Park. I have been hiking along a number of its tracks and have seen wild echidna although there’s nothing really wild about the gentle echidna. 🙂

    Ross Mannell
    Teacher (retired), N.S.W., Australia

  2. christopher

    Hi Mr. Renton

    I wish the school year would last FOR EVER!

    I will be leaving comments more often considering its all most the end of the year.

    Thank you for being an AWSOME teacher!!!

    Christopher and Marcus:)

    • Laurie Renton

      Hey, Christopher and Marcus!

      I LOVE that you guys left an awesome comment on the blog! I hope you are having a TON of fun showing Grandma and Grandpa the adventures we have had this year … I wonder if they’ve ever heard of an echidna before? I sure hadn’t … until our surprise package from Ross!

      I agree … I wish this year would last FOREVER!!! I have LOVED being your teacher and all the amazing learning adventures we have been on this year! I love the way we have learned so much together and FROM one another!

      Thank YOU for being an awesome KID, Christopher!!! I have LOVED learning all about rocks, minerals and volcanoes from you! I LOVE your PASSION for LEARNING!

      Mrs. Renton 🙂

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