echidna

play
noun echid·na \i-ˈkid-nə\

Definition of echidna

  1. :  a spiny-coated toothless burrowing nocturnal monotreme mammal (Tachyglossus aculeatus) of Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea that has a long extensible tongue and long heavy claws and that feeds chiefly on ants; also :  a related mammal (Zaglossus bruijni) of New Guinea having a longer snout and shorter spines

Did You Know?

There are two species of echidna. Both are egg-laying mammals that are stocky and virtually tailless. They have strong-clawed feet and spines on the upper part of a brownish body. The snout is narrow and the mouth is small, with a tongue that is long and sticky for feeding on termites and ants, their chief food. New Guinea echidnas are 18–31 in (45–78 cm) long and piglike. Valued for their meat, they are declining in numbers. Echidnas of Australia and Tasmania are 14–21 in (35–53 cm) long. Echidnas exude milk from mammary openings on the skin, and the young lap it up.

Illustration of echidna

Origin and Etymology of echidna

New Latin, from Latin, viper, from Greek — more at ophitic


First Known Use: 1832


Learn More about echidna


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up echidna? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a Mesopotamian temple tower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • alphabet-magnets
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ