"I'm quite happy here, thank you!" Echidna seen from the rear. [James]
It proved to be a somewhat lost echidna! Having checked the risks* we attempted to remove it, which quickly proved impossible. Even dressed with heavy gloves and in my coat, trying to lift an animal the size of a large, fat cat that didn't want to be lifted proved more tricky than you'd think - it seemed to be attached to the floor. Echidnas have very powerful digging claws, and are ideally adapted to grabbing onto carpet - as we found. When the spines started to dig into the wooden wall, we decided to call Wildlife Rescue. Apparently the way you get rid of an echidna is to block off** all but the preferred exit, and it will - when it's good and ready - toddle*** off into the sunset.
We propped the back door open, blocked off the sides of the route as recommended and left it to it, and when we returned some hours later, it had gone.
In the meantime, we'd had a crash course in the details of the echidna, and it is a easily overlooked and fascinating animal; unique or odd in so many ways. I'll just mention that a baby echidna is called a 'puggle' and that they seem to happily go through life for a very long time in a range of climates that we find challenging. If you'd like to know more (you'll be amazed, I'm sure) here's a link to this website that goes into more detail, and also this very amusing website (and more) by a chap that has hand-reared puggles. Well worth a read.
* Like the related platypus, it does have a pair of spurs, but the echidna's are not poisonous; the spikes are actually modified hairs and aren't ejected, and if non-Australians are wondering, in general it's easier to assume things are dangerous and work back from there - echidnas appear to be dangerous mainly if you fall on one or try and cuddle it...
** Suitcases and boxes are recommended; it will, like a wombat, go through anything like card and plastic if it wants to, by the way.
*** It has a cute as all gait that really is a 'toddle'.