Snuggles from puggles: The tiny baby echidnas that can curl up in the palm of your hand
Two short-beaked echidnas, Babbin and Nyingarn, were born at Perth Zoo
The puggles are the first in the world to be bred by zoo-born parents
17:21 GMT, 18 December 2012
They may look like adorable baby hedgehogs but these rare spiky puggles are the first echidnas to ever be bred from zoo-born parents.
Two short-beaked baby echidnas – called puggles – Babbin and Nyingarn were born at Perth Zoo this August.
Their parents Mila and Chinda are the first ever zoo-born echidnas in the world to breed. They also bred at four years of age despite experts previously believing they couldn't start breeding until they were five-years-old.
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New addition: Babbin was born at Perth Zoo in August and is housed off display in the zoo's echidna breeding area
Record breaker: Short-beaked echidna Babbin is one of two echidna puggles to be the first bred by zoo-born parents
Australian environment minister Bill Marmion said the puggles represented the first successful breeding from zoo-born echidnas and had rewritten the previously accepted facts on the reproduction age of echidnas.
He continued: 'The puggles were born to four-year-old first-time mothers Mila and Chindi both bred and born at Perth Zoo as part of its breeding program for Short-beaked Echidna.
'Until now, it was believed female echidnas did not breed until the age of five so these latest births have shed new light on echidna reproduction.
World's first: Babbin, pictured, and Nyingarn were bred by first-time mothers zoo-born echidnas Mila and Chindi
Paws for thought: Zoologists hope information from Perth Zoo's breeding programme may help the short-beaked echidna's critically endangered cousin, the long-beaked schidna
'This and other data gathered at Perth
Zoo through video surveillance cameras, research and detailed record
keeping is uncovering the secrets of echidna behaviour and reproduction.
'This in turn may help conserve the short-beaked echidna’s endangered cousin, the long-beaked echidna, which is facing extinction in the wild in New Guinea.
'Only 24 echidnas have been bred in captivity in Australia and Perth Zoo is proud to have produced eight of these.'
Perth’s new additions are being housed off-display in the zoo’s echidna breeding area with their parents.
Sizing him up: Puggle Babbin pictured next to a fully grown echidna at Perth Zoo
Lightweight: Five-month-old Babbin weighs just 390g – a little over half a stone
A prickly customer: Babbin's spines are currently small and harmless but they will get longer ans sharper as he grows
Just hanging out: Echidnas use their long, sticky tongues to collect prey such as ants
Echidnas are small, solitary mammals covered with coarse hair and spines – closely resembling hedgehogs and porcupines.
Belinda Turner, supervisor at Perth Zoo's Australian section, added: 'We are gathering a lot of information to help uncover more secrets of echidna breeding and reproduction. This may help conserve the short-beaked echidna's critically endangered cousin, the long-beaked echidna.'
Find out more about echidnas on the Perth Zoo website.
VIDEO Amazingly cute baby Puggles born at Perth Zoo…
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