Echidnas 'Blow Bubbles' to Stay Cool, Australian Research Finds

Echidnas blow bubbles and use the spineless areas on their underside and legs to regulate their body temperature and remain active under higher temperatures than previously thought, research from Curtin University in Perth has found.

Using thermal vision cameras to record echidnas in an area southwest of Perth, Dr Christine Cooper from Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences concluded that the animals have a series of methods to keep cool in high temperatures.

“Echidnas blow bubbles from their nose, which burst over the nose tip and wet it," Curtin said. "As the moisture evaporates it cools their blood, meaning their nose tip works as an evaporative window.”

“We also found their spines provide flexible insulation to retain body heat, and they can lose heat from the spineless areas on their underside and legs, meaning these areas work as thermal windows that allow heat exchange," she continued. “Echidnas can’t pant, sweat or lick to lose heat, so they could be impacted by increasing temperature and our work shows alternative ways that echidnas can lose heat, explaining how they can be active under hotter conditions than previously thought."

Thermal vision footage, used as part of Cooper’s research, shows echidnas in the wild. The footage shows that the animal’s noses and legs are generally cooler than the rest of their bodies. Credit: Curtin University/Christine Cooper via Storyful

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