Watch an Echidna Slurp Up Ants Like a Milk Shake

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: October 9, 2023
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This lovely little echidna is having a feast! In this very special footage, we got a great close-up view of this creature using its nose to discover ants to eat. It burrows away in the dirt and uses its strong claws to brush the soil out of the way. The echidna is focused on finding what is under the ground and has all the tools to get it out. Scroll down to see the full extraordinary footage! 

What Exactly Is an Echidna?

These fascinating little creatures were once called the spiny anteater. They are one of only two mammals that lay eggs and are found in Australia and New Guinea. They also have the honor of being the earth’s oldest living mammal and were thought to have evolved during the dinosaur era. There are four species of echidna and none of them have teeth!

In some ways, they are like a hedgehog because they have spines made of keratin. When trouble arrives, they defend themselves by rolling into a ball. Their bodies are robust and they have a distinctive ‘beak’ at the front of their face. They also have powerful front legs and claws as we can see in this clip. They use them to borrow into the ground to shelter and find food.


Echidnas are one of only two mammals that lay eggs

©Vicki Cain/

What Do Echidna Normally Eat?

The long-beaked echidna’s diet is made up of worms and insect larvae, but the short-beaked echidnas eat ants and termites. This makes them a myrmecophage which is the scientific name for animals that feed primarily on ants.

It is thought that they find food through a combination of smell, vibration, and touch. They then use their front claws to rip apart nests and mounds. Next, comes the ‘testing’ of the area with their snout which they use to leave round holes. They push their head deep into the ground as you can see in this clip, and their snout also displaces the soil.

Once the ants have been located, the echidna uses its sticky tongue to pick them up. Their tongue can be seven inches in length and they can extend it more than 100 times a minute! It is also very flexible and can form a U shape allowing them to scoop up even more ants. Their mouth, however, is very small – only 0.2 inches across. This means that they can only fit fairly small things through it!

Watch the Close-Up Footage Below

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jarrod Calati / via Getty Images

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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