The southern hairy-nosed wombat is the smallest of the three wombat species. As the name suggests, their broad flat snouts are covered in soft (usually white) fur, and other defining features include a large flattened head, pointed ears and soft fur. The body length ranges from 77 - 93 cm, and adults typically weigh between 19 - 32 kg.
Southern hairy-nosed wombats are patchily distributed across south-eastern West Australia, southern South Australia and south-western New South Wales, and generally inhabit semi-arid and arid grasslands and woodlands.
The diet of the Southern hairy-nosed wombat comprises predominately of perennial grasses, however they will also graze on herbs, roots, mosses and bark when their preferred food is unavailable.
Southern hairy-nosed wombats live in complex burrow systems, which can be shared by 5 to 10 individuals. They communicate primarily through scent marking and occasional vocalisations, such as grunts and coughs. The mating season of southern hairy-nosed wombats is between September and December. Females produce a single young, which lives in the pouch for 6 – 7 months. Southern hairy-nosed wombats typically live to around 14 years of age in the wild. Ageing wombats can be difficult, as their teeth continue to grow throughout their life, an adaptation to the tough and abrasive vegetation they feed on. Southern hairy-nosed wombats produce very dry faeces (water content as low as 40%), which helps them to conserve water in hot environments.
The southern hairy-nosed wombat is listed as Least Concern under the IUCN. Nonetheless they are subject to threats such as sarcoptic mange, competition with introduced herbivores, fragmentation in parts of its range and drought. However due to its wide distribution and large populations, southern hairy-nosed wombats are not declining rapidly.
Sarcoptic mange is an infectious disease caused by a pathogenic mite Sarcoptes scabiei, often with severe debilitating effects on wombats. Only sporadic outbreaks of mange have been documented in southern hairy-nosed wombats. This may be due to the hot, arid environments southern hairy-nosed wombats inhabit, which are unfavourable for mites’ off-host survival. High mortality rates, however, may lead to the major decline of small isolated populations.
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