Yesterday, we touched upon the echidna, a creature named after the mother of all monsters from Grecian myth. Resembling a mole with spikes, this Australian native is also one of the few mammals, along with the platypus, to hatch from eggs… proving that weird things happen in the land down under.
Scientists speculate that this makes them closer in relation to early mammals, or this could simply be a testament to the horrors of Australia as they also feature odd flightless birds like the emu. The females have a mammalian cloaca of sorts (this “one hole” is where they get their classification of “monotreme” from), yet also somehow have two vaginas; the males have venomous spurs, much like a platypus, as well as a four-headed penis. Yes, a four-headed penis…. grow up. These creatures are pretty much the predator in little pet-sized form.
With all that being said, it comes as no surprise that someone would want to steal one for their very own. Or maybe it does, I just don’t know anymore.
The theft in question happened this past August at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland, Australia, which should be obvious since these things can only be found down under. The thief, Luke Royes, 25, is accused of stealing one of the echidnas, known as Piggie, with the help of two currently unknown men who wore masks to conceal their identities. Piggie was stolen from her nesting box, and her docile nature may have nearly been her doom; according to Michael Pyne, a vet employed by the sanctuary:
“They went from echidna enclosure to enclosure and they tried two of our larger girls first who really don’t like being handled. Echidnas are very difficult to pick up and they gave up on these and went to one of our younger echidnas who are a lot friendlier and managed to catch her.”
Piggie was also the santuary’s first echidna to be born and bred in captivity, possibly sparing her a fear of humans that the other two echidnas had.
Royes is due at the Southport Magistrates Court for his charges of theft, animal cruelty, and receiving tainted property; his current motivation for stealing Piggie is unknown, but considering the circumstances, he may have been interested in harvesting or selling her eggs. Historically, early Australians also once ate them, so selling Piggie and her children as meat off the black market is also hardly unprecedented. Pyne assured that Piggie was no worse off for wear from her incident. According to testing, “She’s clearly stiff and sore, just bruised and a bit knocked around, but no major problems. We’ve already done a full series of X-rays, ultrasounds and collected blood and there’s no serious injuries.”
So, ultimately, a happy ending to Australia’s answer to the hedgehog, which also was historically used as meat, even since the times of ancient Rome. You’d honestly think folks would be turned off by the spikes.
Also, did we forget to mention that these things have a four-headed penis?