Wombats

Last updated: January 24, 2013

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Wombats are large burrowing mammals that are found in Australia. They are primarily nocturnal, meaning that they are awake during the night and sleep during the day. There are three main types of wombat: the Common Wombat, the Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat and the Northern Hairy- Nosed Wombat. The Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat is only found in the Epping Forest in east-central Queensland, and is thought to be almost extinct. It is believed that there are just 100 of them left in the wild.

Visit http://www.wombania.com/wombats/wombat-distribution-map.htm to find out more about wombat distribution!

a drawing of a happy wombat sitting next to a tree.
Illustration by Jenine Davidson - Copyright RSPCA Qld

Wombats have been described as resembling a small bear, but their closest relative is in fact, the koala. Wombats are extremely strong and muscular, weighing an average of 27kg and growing to up to 1m in length. They usually live 10-15 years in the wild, but the oldest wombat in captivity reached 34 years old!

Wombats are completely herbivorous. Their diet consists of grasses, roots, fungi (such as mushrooms), shrubs, and bark. Wombats will occasionally eat farm vegetables. They do not need to drink a lot, and conserve energy by staying in their burrow during the day when it is hot. Food passes through a wombat’s digestive system very slowly, taking between 8-14 days. Wombat droppings are small, dry, and cube shaped!

Wombats have sharp claws, which allow them to dig extensive underground burrows. Their eyesight is not very good, but they have a keen sense of smell and excellent hearing. Wombats are believed to be very intelligent, with a larger brain capacity than any other marsupial.

A photo of a wombats head and shoulders taken slightly from above as the wombat walks through the grass.Most Australians have never seen a wombat! If you do find an injured wombat, be extremely careful as the adults have very sharp teeth and claws. Baby wombats may be in their mothers pouch or close by, so if you find a dead wombat you should check the area for any young. Baby wombats will need to be kept warm, so you may need to wrap them in a blanket or towel. You can phone 1300 ANIMAL at any time to report injured wildlife.

References

The information above was drawn from a number of sources including RSPCA Qld staff and the following websites:

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/leilund/4057838611/

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