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Matilda the echidna celebrates her birthday allergy free

4 April 2019

Healesville Sanctuary’s “allergic” Echidna, Matilda, celebrated her 9th birthday today by tucking into her favourite meat slurry meal – tongue first.

 Matilda is the world’s only Echidna known to be allergic to the species’ main food group: ants.

 Matilda was brought to Healesville Sanctuary’s Australian Wildlife Health Centre as a puggle (aka baby echidna) in 2010 after she was accidentally dug up from her burrow on a Yarra Valley property. Naturally curious and bold, Matilda settled well into life at the Sanctuary as she grew. Therefore, keepers were surprised when they noticed the skin around Matilda’s eyes looking a little inflamed when she was around two years old.

The Healesville Sanctuary veterinary team investigated and provided treatment, including topical ointments and cleaning of the affected area around her eyes. However, after a noticeable spread in the inflamed skin, Matilda was taken to the Melbourne Veterinary Specialist Centre for detailed allergen testing.

After more than four years of dedicated and determined specialist care, Matilda’s immune system was desensitised to the ant allergy, and she has now been allergy free for more than a year.

 Healesville Sanctuary Senior Veterinarian Claire Madden said Matilda would continue to undergo regular veterinary checks to monitor her health.

 “Matilda will be constantly monitored throughout the rest of her life, as we are unsure how her immune system will respond to different challenges,” Dr Madden said.

 “She undergoes regular visual vet checks, which involve checking her belly skin and the skin around her eyes to make sure they are not looking inflamed or unhappy.”

 Matilda’s last vaccine was administered in January last year (2018), and she has not shown any signs of allergy since then.

“Matilda is the cutest little echidna you will ever meet,” Dr Madden said. “She is a very tactile echidna, and particularly enjoys interacting with her keepers.”

 And tucking into her meat slurry.