Be on the lookout for echidnas, they are on the move ... slowly.
Be on the lookout for echidnas, they are on the move ... slowly. Contributed

Have you spotted an echidna train?

WIRES is currently receiving a large number of calls for echidnas hit and injured by cars.

As the weather gets cooler, echidnas become more active and travel further afield, looking for a mate.

WIRES said, if you are very lucky you might see as many as 10 echidnas walking in a line. This is called an echidna train. The female is in the lead with males behind, in order of size. She may lead them around for six weeks before choosing a mate.

Unfortunately, this increased activity makes echidnas more vulnerable on our roads.

WIRES urges drivers to be alert on the road between dusk and dawn to avoid injuring a wandering echidna - they don't move very quickly, so slow down to allow them to safely cross - and keep an eye out for injured animals that may be on the side of the road.

Echidnas aren't easy animals to handle due to their sharp spines covering its back. Each individual spine has a muscle attached to its base, giving the animal control over the movement and direction of its spines and enabling it to anchor itself firmly onto many surfaces by using the erect spines.

If you find an echidna on the road, it may have been hit and injuries are not always apparent. If you can, cover the animal with a towel and move it off the road, you may just save its life.

WIRES advise to stay with the animal and call them straight away. Do not put the Echidna in your car uncontained as it may bed itself in and be very difficult to remove. When you ring the local WIRES Hotline (66 28 1898), a WIRES volunteer will talk you through the situation and explain how you can contain the animal until a rescuer arrives.

If you are able to safely transport the echidna to a WIRES volunteer, it is very important to note where you found it as WIRES always aim to return each animal to their home territory where they are likely to have a burrow.

The WIRES hotline also receives many calls about echidnas spotted in house yards. Sometimes the animal has "dug in” or rolled into a ball. This is the echidna's way of defending itself when it feels insecure and in danger. The best solution is to leave the echidna alone, remove the threat, usually the family dog, and the echidna will go on its way once it feels confident to do so. Echidnas have a great memory, and it is unlikely that it will return after a frightening experience.

If you are keen to make a difference for the wildlife in our area, consider joining WIRES. Now is a great time to join since their next workshop will be held in Lismore on June 2 and there is time beforehand to complete the online part of the course. For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.

WIRES relies heavily on the generosity of caring people for support. All donations $2 and over are tax deductible.

The WIRES 24-hour hotline is for all rescue, advice or membership calls on the Northern Rivers. Call 6628 1898 or go to http://wiresnr.org/Helping.html to find out how you can help.