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Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat

Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)


Found in Australia and south-eastern New Guinea

(Nicol 2015b; Alpin et al. 2016)

  • Most widely distributed of the extant monotremes (egg-laying mammals) (Nicol 2015a)
  • Widespread in Australia, including Tasmania and offshore islands
  • Found on the main island of New Guinea and other nearby islands (e.g., Salawati Island) (Augee et al. 2006)
    • The short-beaked echidna is rare in New Guinea today

Distribution of subspecies

(Nicol 2015b)

  • T. a. aculeatus: East Australia (East New South Wales, Victoria, and South Queensland)
  • T. a. acanthion: arid regions of most of Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia, and South Australia)
  • T. a. lawesii: South and Southeast New Guinea; North Australia (Northeast Queensland)
  • T. a. multiaculeatus: Kangaroo Island, Australia
  • T. a. setosus: Tasmania and Bass Strait Island, Australia

Elevation range

  • Up to 1,675 m (5,500 ft) in New Guinea (Alpin et al. 2016)
  • Up to the highest peaks in Australia (Alpin et al. 2016); at least 1815 m (5955 ft), as reported by Augee et al. (1992)

Historic distribution

  • T. a. lawesii: had a larger, patchy distribution in New Guinea before the arrival of Europeans; now only known to a few, localized areas (Augee et al. 2006)



  • All terrestrial habitats (Nicol 2015b; Alpin et al. 2016)
    • Mountains (to above snowline)
    • Tropics/rainforest
    • Open woodland, eucalyptus woodland
    • Grasslands/savannah
    • Arid zones
    • Beaches and coasts
  • The only other mammal found in so many divergent habitats is the house mouse (Augee et al. 2006)

New Guinea

  • A variety of habitats, including open woodlands and forests (Nicol 2015b)

Habitat preferences

  • Echidnas spend a lot of time in areas with vegetation that provides cover (Nicol 2015a)
    • Under rocks; in hollow logs, hollows at the base of trees, piles of leaves, bunch (tussock) grasses; or dig into the soil
      • Camouflage well; hard to locate by sight (Augee et al. 2006)

Short-beaked Echidna Distribution

Distribution map of the short-beaked echidna

The short-beaked echidna is found in New Guinea and northeastern Australia.

Adapted from according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here or on map for detailed distribution (IUCN).

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