Eastern long-beaked echidna

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Eastern long-beaked echidna[1]
Zaglossus bartoni - MUSE.JPG
Zaglossus bartoni (replica at MUSE - Science Museum in Trento)
Scientific classification
Z. bartoni
Binomial name
Zaglossus bartoni
(Thomas, 1907)
Eastern Long-beaked Echidna area.png
Eastern long-beaked echidna range

The eastern long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bartoni), also known as Barton's long-beaked echidna, is one of three species from the genus Zaglossus to occur in New Guinea. It is found mainly in Papua New Guinea at elevations between 2,000 and 3,000 metres (6,600 and 9,800 ft).


The eastern long-beaked echidna can be distinguished from other members of the genus by the number of claws on the fore and hind feet: it has five claws on its fore feet and four on its hind feet. Its weight varies from 5 to 10 kilograms (11 to 22 lb); its body length ranges from 60 to 100 centimetres (24 to 39 in); it has no tail. It has dense black fur. It rolls into a spiny ball for defense. They have a lifespan of roughly 30 years.

Like the closely related platypus, echidnas have spurs on their hind legs. Unlike the platypus, echidna spurs are not venomous.[3] All eastern long-beaked echidnas start with spurs on their hind feet and spur sheaths that cover them. Females typically lose their spurs later in life while males keep them. Females are also generally larger than males. Body mass tends to remain consistent most of their life, making it difficult to distinguish between adult and juvenile with body mass alone.[4]


All long-beaked echidnas were classified as a single species, until 1998 when Tim Flannery published an article identifying several new species and subspecies.[5] Three species were then recognized based on various attributes such as body size, skull morphology, and the number of toes on the front and back feet.[5]

There are four recognized subspecies of Zaglossus bartoni :[6]

  • Z. bartoni bartoni
  • Z. bartoni clunius
  • Z. bartoni smeenki
  • Z. bartoni diamondi

The population of each subspecies is geographically isolated. The subspecies are distinguished primarily by differences in body size.


Eastern long-beaked echidnas are mainly insect eaters, or insectivores. The long snout proves essential for the echidna's survival because of its ability to get in between hard-to-reach places and scavenge for smaller insect organisms such as larvae and ticks. Along with this snout, they have a specific evolutionary adaptation in their tongues for snatching up various earthworms, which are its main type of food source.

Zaglossus bartoni habitats include tropical hill forests to sub-alpine forests, upland grasslands and scrub. The species has been found in locations up to an elevation of around 4,150 m. Today is it rare to find Zaglossus bartoni at sea level.[7]

Zaglossus bartoni is currently listed as Vulnerable on the Red List. improved from critically endangered [7] Deforestation is one of the factors leading to the decline of this species.

Humans are the main factor in diminishing populations of eastern long-beaked echidnas. Locals in areas surrounding regions that these organisms inhabit often prey upon them for food. Feral dogs are known to occasionally consume this species. These mammals dig burrows, providing some protection from predation. Factors of deforestation also impact this species negatively. There are four isolated subspecies that inhabit specific geographical regions.[8]


The eastern long-beaked echidna is a member of the order Monotremata. Although monotremes have some of the same mammal features such as hair and mammary glands, they do not give birth to live young, they lay eggs. Like birds and reptiles, monotremes have a single opening, the cloaca. The cloaca allows for the passage of urine and feces, the transmission of sperm, and the laying of eggs.[9]

Little is actually known about the breeding behaviors of this animal, due to the difficulty of finding and tracking specimens.[4] Unfortunately, the way the spines on the echidna lie make it difficult to attach tracking devices, in addition to the difficulty in finding the animals themselves, as they are mainly nocturnal.[4]


  1. ^ Groves, C.P. (2005). "Order Monotremata". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ Leary, T.; Seri, L.; Flannery, T.; Wright, D.; Hamilton, S.; Helgen, K.; Singadan, R.; Menzies, J.; Allison, A.; James, R.; et al. (2008). "Zaglossus bartoni". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 28 December 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as critically endangered.
  3. ^ Belov, Katherine; Whittington, Camilla; Whittington, Camilla M.; Belov, Katherine (April 2014). "Tracing Monotreme Venom Evolution in the Genomics Era". Toxins. 6 (4): 1260–1273. doi:10.3390/toxins6041260.
  4. ^ a b c Opiang, Muse (April 2009). "Home Ranges, Movement, and Den Use in Long-Beaked Echidnas, Zaglossus Bartoni, From Papua New Guinea". Journal of Mammalogy. American Society of Mammalogists. 9 (2): 340–346. doi:10.1644/08-MAMM-A-108.1.
  5. ^ a b Flannery, T. F.; Groves, C. P. (Jan 1998). "A revision of the genus Zaglossus (Monotremata, Tachyglossidae), with description of new species and subspecies". 'Mammalia'. 6 (3): 367–396. doi:10.1515/mamm.1998.62.3.367.
  6. ^ Wilson, Don E. "Zaglossus bartoni". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Zaglossus bartoni (Eastern Long-beaked Echidna)". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  8. ^ "Barton's Long-beaked Echidna - Zaglossus bartoni - Details - Encyclopedia of Life". Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved 2017-11-05.
  9. ^ "Monotreme". Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition. EBSCOhost. 2013. ISBN 9780787650155.
  • Flannery, T.F.; Groves, C.P. (1998). "A revision of the genus Zaglossus (Monotremata, Tachyglossidae), with description of new species and subspecies". Mammalia. 62 (3): 367–396. doi:10.1515/mamm.1998.62.3.367.

External links[edit]

  • EDGE of Existence (Zaglossus spp.) – Saving the World's most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species