Wombats are native Australian short-legged, muscular quadrupedal marsupials. These borrowers are about 1 m (40 in) in length with tiny, stubby tails and can weigh around 20 to 35 kg (44 and 77 lb).
Wombats are of three extant species, and all species are members of the Vombatidae family. They are known to be adaptable and habitat tolerant and can be found in mountainous, forested, and the heathland areas of south-eastern Australia.
Wombats can also be found in Tasmania, as well as an isolated patch of around 300 ha (740 acres) in Epping Forest National Park in central Queensland, where their population has been rapidly increasing.
Table of Contents
- Why are Wombats called Wombats?
- Are wombats friendly?
- Are wombats intelligent?
- Are wombats dangerous?
- Do wombats have pouches?
- What is a wombat baby called?
- What is unique about Wombats?
- When is wombat breeding season, and what is their life span?
- Where do wombats live?
- What are wombat predators and threats?
- Ten quick facts about wombats
- Family: Vombatidae; Burnett, 1829
- Class: Mammalia
- Speed: 40 km/h (Maximum, When threatened)
- Mass: 20 – 35 kg
- Order: Diprotodontia
- Scientific name: Vombatidae
Why are Wombats called Wombats?
Wombats were formerly called badgers by early settlers because of their habits and size. For this reason, localities such as Victoria, Badger Creek, and Badger Corner, Tasmania, were named after the creature.
Are wombats friendly?
Wombat are not exactly friendly. However, experts have described their attack on humans as “highly unusual.” On Australia’s list of most dangerous animals, the wombat does not hold a high rank.
The furry marsupials, which look like badgers, are known for their cute and cuddly looks and are considered as one of the more docile native creatures in Australia.
Are wombats intelligent?
Yes, they are. The Bare-nosed breed of wombats is the largest burrowing mammals on earth. Their short legs and sharp claws are the best tools for digging. They are brilliant animals and e listed as having the biggest brains of all marsupial creatures.
Are wombats dangerous?
Wombats don’t look like they’d be much of a danger to humans, but the Australian Museum reports that they can move really fast (up to 40 kilometers per hour) when threatened, and have been known to attack people.
Do wombats have pouches?
Like koalas, kangaroos and other marsupials, wombats have a pouch. However, their pouch is different from those of koalas and kangaroos as it is backward.
The pouch of a wombat opens to the rear as an adaptation to make sure that it does not fill with soil while they dig. The wombat rump is protected by a bony plate and serves as a defensive shield if it gets chased down its burrow by a predator.
What is a wombat baby called?
A baby Wombat is called a joey (that’s what a baby marsupial, or any pouched mammal, is called).
At birth, the joey is beautiful, tiny and hairless, and is almost the size of a bumblebee. The newborn joey climbs into its mom’s pouch, where it attaches to a teat and stays there for the first few months of its life.
What is unique about Wombats?
Wombats are shy animals. They would rather live alone. However, they live in small communities as other wombats are often in tunnels nearby, with some neighboring burrows interconnected.
Their pouches are backward-facing, and it protects their infant from dirt when the mother wombat is digging.
When is wombat breeding season, and what is their life span?
Wombats are seasonal breeders. Their mating is timed differently yearly so that the most vegetation is available when they are ready to wean their offspring.
This means that the latitude and altitude of a wombats territory will decide when it is best to mate. However, wombat mating mostly occurs in the winter months.
Wombats’ have a gestation period of 20-30 days. Like all marsupials, wombat joeys continue their development in their mums’ pouches.
The joey will remain in its mother’s pouch for 6-8 months and will be fully mature by two years of age. When in the wild, wombats live for up to 5 years, but when in captivity, their lifespan can be as long as 30 years.
Where do wombats live?
The Northern Hairy-nosed species of Wombat once had a broad range across the three eastern mainland states of Australia.
This species of the wombat is now critically endangered and restricted to just two sites in Queensland (this includes a recent re-introduction). This species of the wombat is considered one of the rarest mammals on the planet.
The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat is another species of wombat and is now Near Threatened with its population highly fragmented and rapidly declining across semi-arid parts of South Australia, with a small record in Western Australia and NSW.
The Bare-nosed or Common Wombat, currently the most common, was once widespread throughout southern Australia and is now found in some parts of eastern NSW, south-eastern South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania.
Even though they seem to be the most common, in truth, they’re fast declining but are also listed by the IUCN as a species of Least Concern.
All wombat species reside in burrows, often building complex networks of burrows with chambers and tunnels which can extend up to 150m radius.
Wombats excavate their burrows in well-drained soils, mostly near gullies and creeks. They dig soil quickly with the long claws on their forelegs and use their back legs to push it out. They then dig the walls by rolling on their sides.
What are wombat predators and threats?
Up until a decade ago, innumerable wombats were killed for food and were also killed by pastoralists who considered them a pest.
All species of wombats are now protected across Australia, apart from in Victoria, where the Bare-nosed Wombats are still seen as an agricultural vermin, though a farmer requires a permit to control their numbers.
Loss of habitat and competition for food with introduced herbivores – cattle, rabbits, sheep, and goats – are presently the most significant threats for wombats. Entire colonies of wombats can die from sarcoptic mange, which is sometimes spread by foxes and dogs.
While wombats do not have too many natural predators, they get eaten by foxes, Tasmanian devils, dingoes, wild dogs, and eagles
The wombat has a tough, thick-skinned rump which it uses as protection: if threatened, wombats will escape to their burrow and can crush the predator’s skull (depending on the predator) between their rump and the burrow’s roof.
If startled by humans, wombats can bowl over and dish out a very nasty bite to humans. Do not be tempted to keep these guys as a pet; it is better to admire these waddling darlings from afar!
Ten quick facts about wombats
- Wombats walk with a waddle: Indeed, wombats look pudgy and slow, but they can run up to 25 miles an hour and maintain the same speed for up to a minute and a half.
- They’re very excellent diggers: Wombats are specially created for digging. They have barrel-shaped bodies and pretty broad, sturdy feet that feature long claws, and these features enable them to excavate extensive systems of chambers and tunnels. A wombat can dig up to three feet of dirt in 24 hours.
- They have a backward-facing pouch: Like every other marsupial on earth, wombats give birth to a cute, tiny, underdeveloped joey that crawls into its mother’s pouch to fully grow and develop better. But wombats’ pouches have a unique difference — they are positioned backward, with the pouch opening toward the mother’s rear instead of towards her head. This allows the mother to dig without getting dirt in her pouch.
- Wombats have a super slow metabolism: It takes these creatures up to 14 days (two weeks) to digest a meal. This slow metabolism is helpful in their hot and dry habitat.
- Wombats have teeth like rodents: Wombats have incisors like those of rodents, and they are continuously growing. To keep the growth in check, wombats gnaw on wood barks and tough vegetation.
- Wombats have tough rumps: One of the primary defenses of a wombat is its toughened backside, which is not even made of bones, but cartilage. When they feel threatened, wombats dives headfirst into the closet tunnel, blocking the entrance with its hard rump. This sturdy rump and absence of a significant tail make it almost impossible for a predator to grab on.
- Wombats are not as helpless as you think: Wombats fight to defend home territories around their burrows and will become aggressive to suspected intruders. There have been reports of human injuries from wombat attacks. These injuries include puncture wounds from deep bites, wombat claws, and injuries from being bowled over by angry wombats.
- They have a cube-shaped poop: Wombats have the weirdest shaped poop you can imagine. Their poop is shaped in squares. Wombats are territorial and are known to mark their territories by pooping. It is thought that the shape of the wombat poop keeps it from rolling away. Just in case you are wondering how they squeeze and shape their poop into cubes, they make use of particular bones in their backsides.
- There once exsisted giant wombats: An ancestor of what we know as wombats today was a giant as big as a rhinoceros that existed during the Ice Age. It is believed that ancient Aborigines killed the giant wombat for food.
- The world’s oldest wombat recently celebrated his 29th birthday: Patrick is a wombat who lives at Ballarat Wildlife Park in southeastern Australia. He turned 29 in 2018, making him the oldest known wombat currently. Patrick is also one of the biggest wombats, weighing in at 88 pounds.
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