National Parks field officer Kevin Staker found the baby echidna, also known as a ‘puggle’ in floodwaters near Menindee, western New South Wales (NSW). Mr Staker, who initially thought it was a plastic doll, cradled the young echidna of around three or four months old under his jumper as it quivered from the harsh waters.
Named after its rescuer Kevin, the puggle was then transported more than 700 kilometres to be treated by skilled wildlife rehabilitation experts in Dubbo. There, Kevin the echidna begun his recovery journey and received the necessary care to restore his strength and vitals.
The brave and friendly echidna also made acquaintance with a rescued emu named Chiky in the rescue and rehabilitation centre.
With Kevin’s return to good health, the team began preparations to send him home into the wild. According to a volunteer of Broken Hill’s wildlife rescue group, the cool weather makes this time of year ideal to for Kevin to get back into the wild.
Cooler temperature will facilitate better habitat adaptation for Kevin, as echidnas typically avoid extreme temperatures and are less active in warm temperatures (source: NWS Department of Planning and Environment’s Nature Factsheet).
Before returning to his natural habitat in the state’s far west, the echidna was reunited with his rescuer who came to say one last goodbye. Upon seeing his rescued friend in good health, Mr Staker found it hard to believe it was the same echidna he rescued nearly a year ago, quivering in floodwaters.
"We'll leave food for him too so he can come back if he likes," said Lindy Hunt, from Rescue and Rehabilitation of Australian Native Animals (RRANA).
Lindy also added that the group are ready to take Kevin back into their care immediately should he show signs of distress – although it is unlikely.
Pleased to be included in the farewell for Kevin, Mr Staker found that it was a rather touching and worthwhile moment bidding farewell to his little friend. From surviving treacherous floodwaters as a mere baby to recovering into good health, Mr Staker is confident that the brave echidna will have a smooth transition into the wild.
To find out more about or support RRANA's work rescuing and rehabilitating sick, injured or orphaned native animals, visit rrana.org.au.
Photos from Stephanie Grieve, Jodie Lardner-Smith and Bill Ormonde.
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