IT'S midnight, your dog starts barking - it's unlike them to do that - you hesitantly go to inspect what or who is causing the commotion, and the culprit is... three echidnas on your front porch.
That was the reality for Bronwyn Brennan last Thursday, with the Moss Environmental senior scientist, based near Tamworth in NSW's northeast, struggling to believe her eyes.
It was actually her husband who checked what Ziggy the dog was barking at and after he told Ms Brennan what it was, she admitted there was some doubt.
"When he came back and said there were three echidnas on the porch, I was sceptical to tell you the truth," she said.
"It was not what we expected to find at all and I was very sure that echidnas were solitary so I wasn't sure what to think of three in a row, and there was a fourth one in the garden right near the door burrowed in under one of the plants."
What Ms Brennan had stumbled across was an 'echidna train', which is something that only occurs in mating season.
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In some instances, up to eleven males can form a conga line behind a female, and jostle for position until one gets to mate.
It's rare to see, let alone at somebody's house, and Ms Brennan couldn't help but laugh after realising what she'd broken up.
"We tried just waving at them but they were sort of non-fussed by that so we got some towels and draped them next to them and just shepherded them into the garden," she said.
"I don't know what they did after that, but we didn't hear from the dog again so assume they moved their love train elsewhere."
The incident follows a raft of recent koala sightings, which has provided hope to Moss Environmental director Shonelle Gleeson-Willey that local native wildlife numbers may be on the up.
"There are definitely more sightings of echidnas and koalas in particular, and goannas are another one we've seen a few more of since the drought's broken," she said.
"Definitely in the drought we saw a huge reduction in numbers, and since the drought's broken we've seen definitely had an increase again which is great to see."