Depending on your age, you might have some memories of playing video games or watching the cartoon Sonic the Hedgehog. You may notice a red-colored rival named Knuckles as well. We know Sonic is based on a hedgehog, but what about Knuckles?
Knuckles is based on a short-beaked echidna. Echidnas primarily roam Australia, New Guinea, and several other Austronesian islands. It is a combination of hedgehogs, anteaters, and platypus. It has the body and spikes of a hedgehog, the snout, tongue, and dietary habit of anteaters, and lays eggs like a platypus.
In this post, we explore what kind of animal Knuckles is and how the actual animal differs from the character Knuckles itself. We also further explore if Echidnas can be made into pets.
What Kind Of Animal Is Knuckles?
Knuckles is a short-beaked echidna. Echidnas can look odd, as they can look like you combine a hedgehog, anteater, and platypus into one. Echidnas have the body and spikes of a hedgehog, the snout, tongue, and dietary habits of anteaters. They lay eggs like platypus. It is not classified as an endangered animal.
Echidnas are a type of mammal and live in a specific geographical area. You may find them roaming around in Australia, Tasmania, Papua New Guinea, and other nearby islands. They are not classified as endangered animals currently.
The name Echidna came from a creature from Greek mythology named Echidna. In mythology, Echidna is half-woman, half-snake. This results in the name being used on Echidna since it can be part-mammal, part-reptile.
When looking at their outward appearance, Echidnas can look a little Frankenstein. It has the body of a hedgehog. While the snout, tongue, and legs look similar to an anteater. Echidnas use the tongue and snout to pick up ants and termites, which is their main diet.
Echidnas are a type of monotremes, together with other animals such as the platypus. They display the characteristics of mammals but lay eggs like a reptile or amphibian. Female echidnas also display characteristics of marsupials, such as kangaroos carrying their eggs around and letting their younglings grow inside them.
How Different Are Knuckles From The Actual Echidna?
The actual echidna has an earth-colored body, while Knuckles is in bright red. Echidnas are quadrupedal, but Knuckles are bipedal. Echidnas carry spikes all over their body, but Knuckles seem to only carry a small number of spikes on its head. Knuckles also do not have the snout or tongue like the original Echidna.
Echidnas have an earth-colored body, which helps to camouflage them against predators. Echidnas also have a rounded body that can easily roll into a ball for self-defense. Knuckles instead has a bright red body color, similar to the red of a can of coke.
The most observed similarity between Knuckles and an Echidna is that both have a white underbelly.
Actual echidnas are quadrupedal, meaning they move around using four feet. Echidnas also move slowly and rarely do they run. Echidnas have legs with claws that allow them to dig burrows and tear into ant and termite nests.
Knuckles are bipedal, moving around with only two feet. The upper legs become hands. This gives knuckles a human-like movement and motion. Instead of legs with claws, Knuckles could be seen wearing shoes on the legs, while the hands are wearing a white glove. Two peaks are protruding out from the gloves, which may indicate claws.
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Echidnas are full of spikes all over the body, similar to porcupines and hedgehogs. The spikes tend to concentrate on the outer edges of the body. The spikes grew right behind the face, to the back and sides, ending at the back. Their legs may also have spikes, with the underbelly and face the only two areas without spikes.
Knuckles, instead, do not have spikes all over the body. Only the head may have some appearance of spikes, but it is not obvious. The head is mostly fur.
Echidna has a long, thin snout designed to detect ants and termites. It also allows it to burrow its snout deep into the holes of anthills and pick up ants and termites for food. On top of that, Echidna also has a long, thin tongue that can further increase its reach and pick up more ants and termites for food.
Knuckles instead have a small, flat, and rounded snout that is almost like the ones from a hedgehog. It also does not have a long tongue but instead is given a set of teeth similar to humans.
Echidnas generally roll into a ball of spikes to protect themselves when in danger. The action of forming a ball of spikes is primarily a defensive maneuver. Knuckles, instead, will roll into a ball and fly toward its enemies. This means when Knuckles roll into a ball of spikes, it aims to use it as an offensive weapon.
Are Echidnas A Threatened Animal?
Echidnas are not endangered species that are under threat of extinction. The animal was listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It may mean the number is either dropping or growing, but the numbers do not warrant major attention.
Echidnas are an animal that does not need much to survive well. It needs ants, termites, water, and a place to burrow and hide. As a result, they tend to do well, although in human settlements.
Echidnas foraging for food and burrowing themselves for winter is a rather common occurrence in neighborhoods across Australia; they can be spotted on the brushes and bushes across major roadways and farms.
Echidnas also do not have many predators. Dingoes are the most common. These feral dogs love to turn the echidnas upside down, exposing their soft underbelly before attacking them. Some predatory birds are also known to hunt echidnas. Humans have also been known to eat echidnas, although the practice is less prevalent now.
However, there are areas where echidnas have experienced localized extinctions. Often, these areas are well-managed farmlands or land openings with no ant or termite hills. As a result, the echidnas migrate and leave the area.
Its ability to survive in human-heavy areas helps it to avoid the danger of extinction. The IUCN listed echidnas as the ‘least concern’ animal species, meaning it is not under any threat of extinction. Should their numbers drop, it still is not a major concern.
Can You Keep Echidnas As Pets?
Echidnas are well protected back in their home ground of Australia, which means taking them out of the country may be illegal. On top of that, many states, such as Alabama and Nevada, do not allow exotic animals as pets. Even if your state allows exotic pets, your county may not.
Echidnas are protected animals back home. In Australia, picking up an echidna or moving it to other places is illegal. This would likely make it illegal to catch, sell, or send these animals to other countries.
This would mean if you see echidnas for sale somewhere other than their home countries, these animals were likely brought there illegally.
If you buy and try to raise these Echidnas, you might also be breaking the law. This is because many states in the US make it illegal to own exotic pets, such as Alabama or Nevada. Even if it is legal to own an echidna in your state, you may also want to check with your county office. This is because some counties may not allow exotic animals.
Aside from figuring out the legal side of things, you also want to think about how you can keep these echidnas well and keep them alive with food and suitable living space. You may want to do some prior research to learn about echidnas and ensure you can keep them before attempting to own one.
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Do Echidnas Make Great Pets?
Echidnas, in general, do not make a great pet. This is because they are wild, spiky animals that only come out at night and need special food that may not be easy to find. Echidnas also need a lot of space to roam and dig; if they get sick, it might be hard to treat them.
Echidnas Are Wild And Solitary
The first thing to know is that echidnas are wild animals. This means that they might not be as easy to train as dogs or cats. They might also not do well, like learning to use the toilet. Echidnas are also solitary animals, which could make it hard for the animal to make friends. You might not get as close to your Echidnas as you do with your dogs.
Echidnas Are Nocturnal
Echidnas are nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and do their business at night. This means they can be noisy at night and disturb your sleep. Also, because they like to burrow, they may damage your garden and maybe even your neighbors.
Echidnas Eat Only Ants and Termites
Echidnas eat nothing but ants and termites. Feeding and taking care of your echidnas might be a very difficult endeavor, as not many pet stores sell ants and termites. You may have to use up a lot of time scouting for ant and termite mounds and bring your echidna to feed it.
Echidnas May Ruin Gardens
Echidnas might destroy your garden because they dig burrows to live in. If you keep an echidna near your house, it will likely dig at least one or more burrows in your garden.
If you spend a lot of time and money taking care of your garden, you might not want to see burrows on it. Your echidnas may also dig burrows in your neighbor’s garden, which could cause even more problems.
Vet Care May Be Hard To Get
Echidnas are rare animals, so not many vets would know how to care for them. This could possibly give you a headache. Your best option here could be to look for vets who work at zoos or animal parks if there are any near you. If you can find one, be ready to spend more money on its health care.