Male echidnas wake hibernating females to mate

Washington, Jan 12 (ANI): A new study has unlocked some surprising traits of the echidnas.

Tasmanian researchers have found that these spiky mammals are particularly not careful at all when it comes to sex.

They found that echidnas, Australia's most widespread native mammal, are quite promiscuous creatures.

Gemma Morrow from the University of Tasmania, who has spent three years digging up echidnas and using ultrasound and infra-red cameras to learn more about their mating habits, discovered that echidnas mate in group, reports the Discovery News.

"They have group sex - one female and many males - and that's basically because there's not as many reproductively active females as males because females don't reproduce every year," she said.

The study also revealed that male echidnas try to mate with the still hibernating females.

"They're getting up about a month earlier than females and then jumping on top of them. (The) females are then waking up and they're actually mating when they're not at a normal body temperature," said Morrow.

"Females are then sometimes re-entering hibernation so there's not a real clear distinction between hibernation and reproduction, which is quite unusual," she added.

Co-researcher Stewart Nicol said the study has uncovered important information about how the egg-laying mammals reproduce.

"There's about 4,000 to 6,000 mammals species around the world. Only five lay eggs: They're the monotremes and the echidna's the most successful one," he said.

It is hoped that the information will help protect the endangered long-beaked echidna in Papua New Guinea.

The researchers have also discovered another peculiar thing about echidnas - they build communal toilets.

It is not clear why they all go together, but it could be the subject of future research. (ANI)

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