The echidna, or spiny anteater, is so different from any other mammals that it still puzzles researchers and scientists. What really sets it apart is that female echidnas lay eggs. The only other egg-laying mammal is the duck-billed platypus.
Echidnas have short, stubby legs made for digging. Their powerful front feet can dig straight down into the earth until only a spiny rear end can be seen, making it almost impossible for a predator to grab and pull it out. They can also curl up into a tight, spiky ball, hiding their face and feet. Echidnas use their rubbery snout to break open hollow logs and plow up the forest floor in search of insects to eat. They have no teeth; instead they have a long, sticky tongue to catch and chew food: ants, termites, or earthworms. Echidnas tear into a mound or nest with their large, sharp claws and then uses the six-inch tongue to lap up the bugs or worms. Hard pads at the base of the tongue and on the roof of the mouth grind the food into a paste for swallowing.