This is the echidna's first visit. She's in the top right of the photo. That's a wire garden ornament in the bottom left.
Our echidna put in a late night appearance last night. This is her third visit to my garden, but there are no new photos of her because she chose to visit around 9.30 and I didn't have my phone with me.
Cleo, who usually has a quick word or two to say to visiting kangaroos, was barking non-stop for quite a while so I went out to investigate and found her and Aslan looking very intently at something in the very top corner of our backyard. Aslan looked a little embarrassed to be caught out harassing a little defenseless (if you didn't count the spikes - and both he and Cleo counted the spikes) creature. The poor little echidna, who most likely had a major headache after having Cleo's booming bark go off in her ear for a good solid ten minutes, had dug herself into the very corner of our back yard. She had a large rock on one side of the huge hole she'd dug, the corrugated iron fence on another and Cleo barking at her on the third side of the triangle. Aslan was acting as back up behind Cleo. He wasn't barking or trying to get close to the pointy end of the echidna (which makes me think he has a good deal more intelligence than Cleo who was trying to find a way around those spikes), but he was there for moral support. Why the echidna keeps coming back I don't know. Maybe she keeps hoping I'll see the light and get rid of the puppies so she can make her home in our back yard.
I did suggest to Graeme that as the echidna could be considered a regular visitor now we should name her and adopt her as a new member of the menagerie, but not surprisingly, Graeme disagreed rather strongly.
Graeme got the spade and dug out the rock so the echidna could leave via the small gap that made between the two fences. I called the puppies to follow me with the intention of locking them up in the laundry for the night. Aslan came along quietly doing his usual follow from the front causing me to almost trip over him when he stopped from time to time to check I was still with him. It took a lot of encouragement and finally threats to get Cleo to come with me. She kept veering off in the direction of the echidna every time I took my eyes off her. When caught heading the wrong way to the back door, Cleo tried to explain it was dark and she'd lost her way, but I was having none of that. I finally got both puppies onto the back porch and then Aslan into the laundry, but Cleo said she wasn't going any further. She thought if she looked innocent enough I'd believe that she intended to stay put and wouldn't dream of going back to harass our spiky visitor. Sadly for Cleo I'm not that gullible. I showered Aslan with liver flake treats (their favourite treat in the entire world) and told him he was a good boy while he sat on his bed in the laundry enjoying every morsel of liver treat offered to him. I called Cleo multiple times and even showed her the bucket of treats, waving it right under her nose, but Cleo was struck with selective deafness. She knew she couldn't make a break for the back corner of the yard while I was outside, but she also knew if she put one foot in the laundry I'd close the door and that would be the end of her defending the garden against marauding echidnas.
Our echidna's second visit. I'm grateful that she didn't dig herself into one of my gardens this time and only dug up a bit of dirt near the back fence.
Cleo and I have an understanding that if she comes when I call her into the laundry she gets liver treats if they are being handed out to Aslan, but if I have to haul her into the laundry no liver treats will be forthcoming. It's been a while since the liver treats haven't worked. Cleo just can't seem to resist them. She did resist them this time though. It seems the lure of a night barking at the spiny side of an echidna far outweighed the delicious taste of liver treats. In the end I dragged Cleo into the laundry, making uncomplimentary comments on over grown dogs who can't obey a simple command. Aslan was given a last liver treat just to rub it in with Cleo that she was missing out, and the laundry door was shut for the night.
While this tussle of wills between Cleo and me was taking place Graeme was still outside making arrangements for the echidna's departure. He tried lifting it up with the shovel but she had dug in well and truly, so all he could do was leave her there. Echidnas have an amazing ability to hold onto the ground underneath them when predators (or well meaning farmers in Graeme's case) try to move them. It's like they are cemented in. Graeme wanted to take her down to the Possum Paddock which is about a kilometre from our house. Just as an aside, the Possum Paddock is named that because when Graeme and Justin were cutting wood for our fuel stove, when we first moved here, Graeme cut a branch into fuel stove fire box lengths, only to find a few bits of fur on the chain saw after the last cut. He looked into to hollow branch to find two possums squashed up in there avoiding the blades. Graeme picked up that bit of branch and wedged it into a tree so the very-lucky-not-to-be-cut-by-the-blades possums could recover from their trauma. Now, back to the echidna - I wasn't in favour of her being moved to the Possum Paddock because I was worried she might have a den of puggles (baby echidnas) somewhere near the house and it would be too far for an echidna's little stumpy legs to walk back in a short time.
This morning the echidna was gone. She's left a deep hole in the back corner of my garden, but for once no plants suffered from her visit. After Graeme checked to see if she was gone he let the puppies out and Cleo made a beeline for the back corner. She was very disappointed that her semi-regular sparring partner wasn't there to be barked at so she returned to the house deflated but hopeful there would be more opportunities in the future to finally defeat the pointy little creature.
Graeme filled in the hole and I now await the next visit from the newest member of the Spring Rock menagerie (I'm counting her as part of the gang even if Graeme isn't).
This photo was taken after the echidna's first visit when I carried her over to a paddock behind our shearing shed. She seemed to enjoy the ride, not struggling, but lifting her head from time to time to admire the elevated view.