I’ve been taking some virtual trips to Australia this week to research animals for a potential book job and in so doing I’ve fallen in love with the echidna.
Sixteen years ago I took a real trip down under but I never got to see one of these spiny little sweethearts in the flesh. I wish I had. From looking at photos of them they seem such characterful creatures, and I’m having fun trying to draw their ridiculously long snouts and their somewhat comical little faces.
What is it about Australian animals, though? – they’re just so weird. Echidnas are mammals, but they lay eggs, with leathery shells like lizards’ eggs. They carry these in a pouch. The mother echidna then oozes milk from her belly – she doesn’t have teats – and the newly hatched baby sucks this from her skin. The baby echidna is endearingly called a ‘puggle’ – which sounds like something out of a children’s TV programme by Oliver Postgate to me (yes I know, I’m probably thinking of the Pogles…) Or maybe there’s a band name there? Yay! - the Puggles are playing Glastonbury! Then again, maybe not.
So… I’m now sketching echidnas and have the difficult task of trying to show one cuddling a baby kangaroo; my imagination is really being put to work. But, I hope I get the job.
Anyway here are some echidnas. In doing my research I also came across a youtube video featuring them, titled, ‘The World’s Most Terrifying Penises’. I’ve yet to watch it….and decided not to post it here although I admit it was tempting. Instead let’s have some Australian music… I bought a tape of the Someloves’ album* when I was in Sydney and they still sound like perfect Antipodean pop to me.
* Thanks to a friend who'd introduced me to them a few years beforehand...