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Diet of the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) in the Tasmanian Southern Midlands


Sprent, JA and Nicol, SC, Diet of the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) in the Tasmanian Southern Midlands, Australian Mammalogy, 38, (2) pp. 188-194. ISSN 0310-0049 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Journal compilation copyright Australian Mammal Society 2016

DOI: doi:10.1071/AM15023


The short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) is generally considered to be myrmecophagous, consuming a diet consisting of ants and termites. The range and seasonal variation of food items consumed by echidnas in the Southern Midlands of Tasmania, an area where termites are absent, was examined using faecal scat analysis. Scat analysis indicated that echidnas in this region are not purely myrmecophagous. Whilst ants were present in 96% of scats and made up 55  39% of scat contents by percentage volume, non-ant food items (scarab larvae and Oxycanus moth larvae) were found in 72% of scats. Scarab larvae were present in 68% of scats, and in those scats made up 46  39% of the volume of prey material. The only significant seasonal variation of any dietary item was for scarab larvae, which can be attributed to variations in the abundance of these larvae throughout their lifecycle. The patterns of consumption indicate that echidnas are opportunistic foragers.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ants, cockchafer, myrmecophagy, scarabidae, scat analysis
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Ecological physiology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Sprent, JA (Dr Jennifer Sprent)
UTAS Author:Nicol, SC (Associate Professor Stewart Nicol)
ID Code:116927
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:7
Deposited By:Biological Sciences
Deposited On:2017-05-25
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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