Brookfield Zoo's echidnas get Easter egg treats

BROOKFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- The Brookfield Zoo's echidnas got a special Easter egg treat Friday.

The echidnas, sometimes called "spiny anteaters," were given colorful plastic Easter eggs filled with waxworms that were the hidden in a box of dirt. By burying the eggs in the dirt, zoo staff were able to encourage the echidnas to use their digging and smelling abilities to find them. Then they used their feet to open up the eggs and get to their treats.

Echidnas are one kind of animal that truly embody the spirit of the Easter bunny as well, zoo officials said. While the Easter bunny is known for carrying a basket of eggs, echidnas are mammals that actually lay eggs. They are classified as monotremes, an order that also includes the platypus.

A few weeks after mating, the zoo explains, a female echidna lays a single egg into a small pouch similar to the pouches found in marsupials. About 10 days later the baby echidna, called a puggle, hatches and is fed, like all mammals, by its mother's milk.

The mother carries her baby in her pouch until it develops its spiny, prickly hairs, the zoo said.
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