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Wombats in Australia
Southern hairy-nosed wombat
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Bare-nosed wombat description
Scientific name: Vombatus ursinus
Other common names
Also called Common wombat
The bare-nosed wombat is a robust and stockily-built marsupial, with short legs and strong claws ideal for burrow excavation. Its defining features include a large naked nose, small rounded ears and coarse fur. Their coat ranges from sandy brown to grey and black in colour. The length of an average wombat ranges between 90 – 115 cm, and can weigh from 22 – 39 kg.
The bare-nosed wombat is distributed across the coastal regions of southeast Australia; from southern Queensland down to Victoria and the southeast tip of South Australia, and is widespread in Tasmania. Their main habitat is woodland, however they also occur in scrubs and coastal heath.
Bare-nosed wombats are herbivorous and mainly feed on native grasses, tussocks and sedges. Occasionally they will also eat bark, herbs and moss, depending on what is available at the time. Wombats are nocturnal, and will usually graze for several hours after sunset.
General biology facts
Bare-nosed wombats are solitary and territorial, each establishing their own range in which they feed and dig a tunnel system. Tunnel systems typically range between 2 – 20 m in length, and are usually dug above creek beds and gullies. If conditions are favourable, common wombats breed throughout the year. The joey stays in the pouch for around 10 months, before emerging and grazing besides its mother for another eight to ten months. Bare-nosed wombats have an average lifespan of 15 years in the wild.
The bare-nosed wombat is listed as Least Concern under the IUCN. The greatest threat to the species is sarcoptic mange, which occurs throughout their entire range. Other threats include habitat loss through land clearing, predation by feral dogs and vehicle collisions.
Sarcoptic mange occurs throughout most of the range of bare-nosed wombats. Outbreaks occur more frequently in high-density populations, where ranges and burrow use may overlap thus facilitating the transmission of the disease. The effects of the disease can be debilitating, where thick scabs hinder sight and movement, leading to starvation and eventual death.
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