Bernard the young burn victim
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Echidnas are one of those animals that just cannot out run a fire.
They have developed a method known as 'burrowing in', if a fire threatens. If the soil is too hard or if they are carrying young, this doesn’t always work.
People or predators such as dogs, standing around watching a burn off will also deter Echidnas from entering open ground away from a fire, if they are unable to burrow in.
Little Bernard, a young dispersing Echidna, was caught in a burn off and took the option of burrowing in. Unfortunately he was not able to completely protect his entire body and his back was left exposed to the flames. Wandering amongst hot coals and logs is when he sustained further burns to all four of his paws. Bernard was found much later wandering through the burnt out vegetation that was once his home range habitat.
WIRES carer, Vince, was called into rescue and care for this poor young monotreme. He had survived his burns but was unable to dig for his favourite food, the termite. He was also unable to dig a burrow to hide in and had lost a lot of weight. The spines on his back were all burnt and broken off and he was now vulnerable and totally defenceless against predators and dog attack.
Bernard's skin on his paws and back have now healed completely and he is doing well in care. He enjoys his specially prepared meals and has doubled in weight. However before he can be released, new spines will need to regrow around the base of each old spine. This may take some time.