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Wonderful wombats


Wild and wonderful wombats

 
There are three species of wombats in the world, and they only occur in Australia. The Bare-nosed wombat (Vombatus ursinus), the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii) and the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons).

Bare-nosed wombat Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat
Source, A Horsup
 
 

Did you know?

  • Wombats are marsupials and the females have a backward facing pouch.
  • Baby wombats are called joeys. They are born furless and weigh as little as 0.32 grams and are less than 2cm in length. Fur does not begin to grow until they are 4-5 months old. Wombat joeys stay in the pouch until 9-10 months old.
  • The wombat’s closest living relative is the koala.
  • Present-day wombats are their closest surviving relatives to Diprotodons. Diprotodons were ‘three tonne giant wombats’. They were part of the Australian megafauna and were the largest marsupials to walk the Earth, measuring up to 3.8m long and 1.7m tall.
  • Wombats can grow up to one metre in length and weigh up to 40kg.
  • Wild wombats can live for up to 14 years, whilst in captivity they may live as long as 26 years.
  • Wombats are polygamous – meaning they may breed with more than one mate.
  • Wombats vary in colour from grey or black, to sandy brown.
  • Wombats can move at speeds up to 40km/h for up to 90 seconds.
  • Wombats have a ‘reinforced rump’, due to a tough plate of cartilage across their lower back and rear, which helps protect them from predators.
  • Wombats are herbivores. Native grasses, such as tussock grass (Poa spp.) and kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra), make up the largest component of their diet.
  • Wombats are hypsodonts, meaning they have continuously growing teeth. This allows wombats to consume coarse foods without wearing their teeth down to the gums. In total, wombats have two pairs of incisors, four premolars and sixteen molars.
  • Wombats produce cubic faeces.
  • Wombats are the largest burrowing herbivores in Australia. Wombat warrens may be shared by multiple wombats and vary in length and number of entrances. Bare-nosed wombats build single-entrance warrens with tunnels up to 20m in length whilst southern and northern hairy-nosed wombats build multi-entrance warrens. Using porthole cameras scientists have mapped a warren belonging to the southern-hairy nosed wombat; the warren had 28 entrances and was made up of 89 metres of tunnels.
  • Wombats have featured in popular culture over the years. For example: Fatso in ‘A Country Practice’ and Mr. Walter Wombat (“Wombo”) in ‘Blinky Bill’. “Fatso the fat-arsed wombat” was an unauthorised mascot of the 2000 Sydney Olympics whose appearance was banned by the Australian Olympic Committee on day 9. The wombat has also featured in the popular children’s books: ‘Wombat Stew’ by Marcia Vaughan, ‘Diary of a Wombat’ by Jackie French and ‘The Muddleheaded Wombat’ by Ruth Park.
 
 
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