North Coast drivers are being reminded to be alert for echidnas which move around more at this time of year.

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Community Relations Ranger Lisa Walker said that wildlife carers have had a dramatic increase in the number of calls in the past few weeks about echidnas being injured or killed on local roads.

“Motorists need to keep an eye out for these unique little creatures,” Ms Walker said.

“Autumn is a busy time for echidnas when young ones are dispersing to new territories.

“In late winter the more mature male echidnas also become active in readiness for the breeding season. This signals the time when the female echidna releases a pheromone that attracts the males. She is then pursued by her male admirers who can be seen following on behind her. This is called an echidna train.

“Sometimes as many as 11 echidnas can be seen following the female in the hope of mating with her, although three to four is more usual.

“Echidna trains can last anywhere up to six weeks before mating happens. During this time the echidnas can be seen walking, foraging and resting together and this is when they are most vulnerable on our roads.

“The most likely time to catch sight of echidnas is around dusk or dawn when they’re out foraging, although in cooler weather they can also be out in the middle of the day. Echidnas don’t like to get hot and, depending on the temperature, they’ll change from day active to night active.

“Motorists should also be aware that echidnas have extremely tough spines, capable of piercing the tyres of cars and trucks. Avoidance is the best solution. As with most native wildlife, their road sense is limited.”

All injured echidnas can be referred to:

Richmond, Kyogle, Lismore, Ballina and Byron: WIRES 6628 1898, Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers 6628 1866.

Tweed: Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers 6672 4789.