echidna-puggle

Would you snuggle with a puggle?

Oct. 25, 2012 at 9:30 AM ET

Ben Gibson / Taronga Zoo /

Is it a bald penguin? A hedgehog?   

It's actually an echidna puggle and it's really cute. Puggles, also known as spiny anteaters, are egg-laying mammals that live in Australia and New Guinea.

This 40-day-old baby, named Beau, lives at the Taronga Wildlife Hospital in Australia, and was discovered on a path in an RV park.

Ben Gibson / Taronga Zoo /

Puggles are rarely seen at this age because moms stash their young in burrows. The puggle remains in the burrow for many months. The mom goes out to feed, and returns every few days to feed it milk.

Ben Gibson / Taronga Zoo /
Puggles, like platypuses, have patches that excrete milk for their young to lap up. Beau's human surrogate puts milk in the palm of her hand, and Beau feeds like a mini vacuum cleaner.   
Ben Gibson / Taronga Zoo /

Beau's gender can't be determined for a while, as baby puggles of either sex have no identifiable features. In time, Beau will develop quills (here's what a grown echidna looks like) but for now, there's only a rough layer of hair that the nurses call a "five o clock shadow."

Watch the sweetest video clip of Beau's nurse, Annabelle, feeding the little one. And learn more about Beau at the Taronga Conservation Society's blog

TODAY.com multimedia editor Mish Whalen cannot stop saying puggle, one of the coolest words ever.

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