History - AustralianAustralian CultureAustralian IdentityAustralian animalsCultural Comparisons Between Australia and other CountriesAustralian Prehistory

Australian Environmental Issues

A true-blue battler

Box jellyfish
How to avoid the stings and what to do if stung

So you wrestle crocs...

Unfairly judged in killing off the thylacine?

The wise little gnomes of Australia

Victors of the great Emu war

Shaping everything from how Australians speak to how they salute

Funnel Web spider
Yyou'll never leave your ugg boots outside

Most herbivores don't grow a spine until they are the size of an elephant. Not so the roo.

Kill less people than cows

Shark attack Australia
How to ensure you don't go by the name of Bob

Tasmanian Devil
The solution to mainland extinctions?

Tasmanian Tiger
A sad tale

Keg of muscle

The mainland's largest marsupial carnevore

Mythical creatures
Yowies and dropbears; some say they are myths but those who are not afraid to talk have shared their stories






The echidna

The Echidna

A hardy wanderer

“They're such wonderful, attractive, enigmatic animals. They have a rolling, waddling gait. Their spines make them look formidable, but they're really quite gentle animals. To see their little beaks and their little eyes looking up at you, it's Lord of the Rings all over. You think: 'Here is a wise little gnome.'” Dr. Peggy Rismiller

On a continent teeming with weird mammals, the Echidna is one of the weirdest. It has a beak like a bird, spines like a hedgehog, lays eggs like a reptile, lactates in the pouch like a marsupial, and has the life span of an elephant. For no apparent reason, it may decide to conserve energy by dropping its body temperature to four degrees and remaining at that temperature from four to 120 days. An incredibly smart animal, lab experiments have shown that the Echidna is more intelligent that a cat. They have even escaped fenced enclosures by piling water and feed bowls on top of each other and then climbing over the top.

The Echidna feeds upon ants and termites and wanders about the land looking for new nests. In its walkabout, it pays no respect to any natural obstacle. Echidnas go into caves, under tree roots, deep into soil litter, sand dunes, and below salty surfaces or snow fields. It has been seen using its spikes, feet and beak to climb up mountain crevices like a mountaineer edging up a rock chimney. Although not built for swimming, it has no fear of crossing rivers. Fishermen have found them calmly floating out at sea, patiently waiting for the tide to sweep them back to land. It is found from the semi-arid desert of South Australia to the tropics of nth Queensland.

A toothless and highly specialised feeder, it breaches an ant or termite nest with its forepaws or snout and extends its long tongue into the galleries. Insects adhering to the copious sticky saliva with which the tongue is covered are drawn into the mouth. A considerable amount of soil and nest material is also ingested and this forms the bulk of the distinctive cylindrical droppings.

If threatened, the Echidna will dig deeply into the ground, use its four legs to anchor itself, and expose its spikes to the predator. The same technique can even save it from the worst bushfires. Post-fire they have been found wandering through the smouldering desolation, unharmed except for singed hair.

Echidna With Dog

Questions to think about

Echidna in advertising

Rex keeping the ladies happy

An Echidna named "Rex" was the face of a feature efective campaign ants pants. A beautiful girl lays on the bed with ants crawling on her inner thigh. An Echidna then waddles into the room. The girl smiles and then says "sick em Rex." The Echidna then launches into his work.

  1. Decide if the advertisement intends to build brand identity (a certain image for the brand) or brand awareness (get you to pay attention to the ad so you know the name.)
  2. If you believe the aim was to  build brand identity, what image was formed and what techniques were used to form them?
  3. If you believe the aim was to gain brand awareness, what techniques were used to attract you attention and ensure you remembered the name?
  4. Do you think a different animal might have been better in the ad? Why or why not?


The Echidna features on the Australian five cent piece and the 1992 Gold $200. Why do you think it has been put on Australian currency?



Invasive ferals


Carp and Trout
A tale of two ferals

New hope for Cane Toads
The many unknown predators of the toad

A fence almost 2,000 km long to keep rabbits out of WA? Sounds like a great idea! If it doesn't work, we'll build another one!

The Willow
How a change in its status from asset to weed led to fish kills with blackwater and blue-green algae outbreaks

To bait dingos?
Should the health of the ecosystem be considered or just the kennel club registration?

Koala control
What to do about the "koala plague" on Kangaroo Island

Apex predator in Australia. Confined to urban areas in America.

Environmental values

Environmental problems
How money and ideology shapes environmental "science."

Australia's Stockholm Syndrome with gum trees.

The Kangaroo industry
Should we eat skippy?

Climate change in Australia
Australia was once covered in rainforest. Could it be again?

The dark side of sustainable environmental policies

Native pets
Why no pet wombats?




Australian environmental science is defined by an ideology that is not unlike a prison warden. There, the scientists are not seeing themselves as part of the ecosystem, but as masters over it; protecting the rights of the species that they say have rights and killing those that they say do not…but inevitably killing both.

"It was always seen as desirable to remove or cull the introduced species. We also need to ask whether it was possible to do so, how it should be done, whether it could have unintended consequences and what it would cost? I don't think anyone really asked those questions." Physicist John Reid - 2012