A baby echidna has been saved from floodwaters near Menindee in outback New South Wales.
The puggle, named Kevin after his rescuer Kevin Staker, was found floating next to the road by National Parks staff who quickly stopped to help it.
The echidna’s saviour believed the animal, thought to be about three to four months old, was lucky to be spotted.
“I was on my way to work and I stopped and reversed and was looking at it and was thinking, ‘What the bloody hell is that?’,” Mr Staker said.
“Then I thought, ‘Bloody hell, it’s a baby echidna’.”
The Menindee field officer doesn’t believe the puggle would have survived much longer.
“I got him out and he was just about buggered,” Mr Staker said.
While it was not uncommon to see echidnas near Menindee, Kevin was the first one Mr Staker had seen in the water during his 63 years in the area.
“On the river I’ve never ever seen one,” he said.
“Not many people have.”
‘Most amazing creatures’
After being rescued from the river, the echidna was driven more than 100 kilometres to Broken Hill, where he was put into care with a local animal welfare group.
“Adult echidnas are very good swimmers, but Kevin was lucky he just made it to the edge, and adult Kevin found him,” Rescue and Rehabilitation of Australian Native Animals (RRANA) president Lindy Hunt said.
Despite volunteering for RRANA for 19 years, Kevin was only the second puggle Ms Hunt had encountered.
Luckily for Kevin, Ms Hunt had only recently purchased a special echidna milk.
“His little tongue comes out and he licks it and presses against your hand like he would his mum’s belly because they don’t have nipples,” she said.
“They’re the most amazing creatures.”
Kevin to be raised in Dubbo
Kevin is now in Dubbo, more than 700km east of where he was found, and will be looked after by specialised carers.
When he is healthy enough, Kevin will be taken back and released near Menindee.
Residents who find an injured or sick animal can contact the Broken Hill-based RRANA can be contacted on 0429 204 416 or via Facebook.