Advances in the captive breeding and reproductive biology of the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

Wallage, Andrea, Clarke, Lauren, Thomas, Lindy, Pyne, Michael, Beard, Lyn, Ferguson, Arthur, Lisle, Allan and Johnston, Stephen (2015) Advances in the captive breeding and reproductive biology of the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus). Australian Journal of Zoology, 63 3: 181-191. doi:10.1071/ZO14069


Author Wallage, Andrea
Clarke, Lauren
Thomas, Lindy
Pyne, Michael
Beard, Lyn
Ferguson, Arthur
Lisle, Allan
Johnston, Stephen
Title Advances in the captive breeding and reproductive biology of the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)
Formatted title
Advances in the captive breeding and reproductive biology of the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)
Journal name Australian Journal of Zoology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0004-959X
1446-5698
Publication date 2015
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1071/ZO14069
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 63
Issue 3
Start page 181
End page 191
Total pages 11
Place of publication Clayton, VIC Australia
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Captive breeding of the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) has proven a difficult challenge; as recently as 2009, there were fewer than 10 echidnas born in captivity. We present observations of captive reproductive behaviour following video surveillance and measurements of body temperature collected from six captive female echidnas over a six-year period. In the first series of observations (2009–10) we examined the efficacy of artificial burrow boxes as possible aids for reproductive success. Females with access to burrow boxes had significantly higher levels of reproductive activity (P = 0.001), there was coincidental improvement in the production of eggs or pouch young (two eggs, one unhatched and one offspring). During 2009–10, a range of reproductive behaviours (courtship, copulation and postcopulation) were documented and analysed, as were new observations of oestrous cycle activity. Female body temperature was characteristically stable during egg incubation during this study and has the potential to be used as a tool for the assessment of reproductive status. Following initial observations, burrow boxes and infrared lamps were implemented as standard husbandry in our echidna breeding facility and the effects on reproductive success were monitored, albeit less intensively, for a further four years (2011–14). Although no direct causal effect could be ascribed, the use of burrow boxes and heat lamps coincided with a total of 13 young being born to four females in the last four years (2011–14). These female echidnas were found to be receptive at intervals throughout the breeding season, both before and after presumed incubation phases, suggesting that captive animals exhibit polyoestry. In 2012 and 2014, the same female showed evidence of producing two young from one breeding event.
Keyword Husbandry
Thermoregulation
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Official 2016 Collection
 
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Created: Sun, 02 Aug 2015, 20:38:11 EST by Associate Professor Stephen Johnston on behalf of School of Agriculture and Food Sciences