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Did you know? An echidna is an egg laying mammal or monotreme. It is covered in spines (modified hairs)of different sizes of different parts of its body. Each spine is rooted in muscle and can be independently used like fingers to climb difficult rock faces and tree trunks. The spines are not barbed and cannot be “fired” at predators. A threatened echidna can dig down into soil and disappear in a few minutes, or curl up leaving its spines exposed.
Wedge Tailed Eagle (клинохвостый орел)
The wedge-tail eagle is the largest bird of prey in Australia, with a wingspan of 2.3m. It has a long wedge-shaped tail and legs that are covered in feathers all the way down to its claws. The large wings have 6 clear “finger” feathers at their tips. The wedge-tail seldom flaps its wings when flying, preferring to soar on wind currents. Their keen eyesight extends into the infrared and ultraviolet bands enabling them to spot prey and see rising thermals.
Did you know? Koalas sleep, eat, mate and breed in trees, only climbing down to ground if they cannot reach a new tree by moving along the upper braches. On the ground, it walks unhurriedly on all fours, but can move quickly, bounding along at a gallop. An adult koala needs about 500 grams of eucalyptus leaves a day. The leaves comprise 50% water, are toxic, and not very notorious. Thus koalas seldom need to drink, but have low energy. The average koala sleeps 18-21 hours and eats for 4-5 hours.
Kangaroo are Macropods – literally “large foot”. They have powerful back legs and very long back feet, and move in a hopping motion. There are 56 species ranging from the large red kangaroo down to the small musky rat kangaroo, which weighs 500 grams. Hopping sounds clumsy and slow, but at speeds above 17 km per hour, it is more efficient in terms of oxygen consumption than running or galloping. The red kangaroo can hop at speeds of 20-30 kph for long periods, and up to 55kph in short bursts.
The platypus is one of 3 egg laying mammals known as monotremes. It has a soft, leathery, wide bill, 4 webbed feet and a furry tail. It spends most of its time in water. Its dense, water-resistant fur enables it to maintain a body temperature of 32C and live in water ranging from subtropical to near-freezing. It is generally a solitary animal, males and females living in separate burrows, but a fairly large number may share a small body of water.
Possums are small, furry, nocturnal marsupials which live mainly in trees. There are 25 different species in Australia. The largest and most prolific are the common brushtails and common ringtails which have adapted well to the urban environment and measure about the length of a forearm. The little pygmy possums are the smallest, weighing only 7 grams and measuring the length of a finger. The most rare are the leadbeater’s possum and the mahogany glider, now considered endangered.
Emus are large, flightless birds, up to 2 metres tall, with 3 large toes and can run up to 50 kph. At full stretch, an emu’s pace can measure 3 metres. The brown feathers on the wings and body are primitive and grow in pairs. They look like coarse hair and insulate against extreme temperatures. Emus have long narrow necks with bluish skin, and wide soft beaks.