Wombat

Vombatus ursinus

Size:
Head - body: 850 - 1150mm
Tail Length: 20 - 30mm
Weight:
22 - 39kg
Status:

Secure

Description: This large squat marsupial has long, coarse fur, patchy brownish-grey or dull sandy-brown above and paler below. The head is broad and large with a flattened naked nose, small eyes and small hairy ears. The tail is very short and hidden by fur- the limbs are short with short toes bearing stout flattened claws.
Habitat: Wet and dry sclerophyll forest with adjacent grassy areas. During the day it sleeps in a nest of vegetation in one of several burrows.
Life Cycle:
Breeding Season: Throughout the year
Gestation Period: One month
Pouch Life: 5 months
Weaning: 17 months
Sexual Maturity: 2 years
Longevity: 6-10 years in the wild
27 years in captivity

Breeding takes place throughout the year with a peak in September, October and November. A single young is usually born and attaches to one of the two teats in the mothers pouch where it remains for about 5 months, following the mother until weaned at about 17 months. Sexually mature at 2 years, they have lived up to 27 years in captivity, although in the wild they usually only live for six to ten years.
Diet: They browse for native grasses, roots, tree bark, leaves, shrubs and fungi.
Facts: Wombats have some peculiar digestive adaptations. The stomach has glands, which are thought to help digest fibrous plant matter. Unusually though most of the digestion occurs not in the stomach but in the colon. A meal is generally retained in the wombat's gut for a very long time, 95-210 hours (8 days).

Each individual wombat has its own feeding area, with regular paths to their favoured sites. They use their forefeet or claws to grasp and tear the vegetation. The common wombat browses whereas the hairy-nosed wombats crop grasses.

The wombat is unlike other marsupials in that its teeth are more like that of a rodent. It has no canines, and the enamel is present on the front surfaces only of the single pair of upper and lower incisors, providing a sharp cutting edge. The teeth grow continuously, so they do not get worn out.
Wombat burrows vary considerably in location and size, patterns of use, and functions. The smallest, most numerous burrows usually represent an abortive excavation at an unfavourable site. Medium burrows (2-cm long) are mainly used for temporary refuge, many major burrows (up to 20m long) contain more than one bedding chamber, divide or connect underground, and have several entrances. Each wombat visits from 1-4 burrows within its home range each night and up to 13 over several weeks.
Did you know: A wombat can dig as fast as a man with a spade.
General: Differences between Hairy-nosed Wombats & Common Wombats
  • Hairy-nosed wombats have broad rounded & flat snouts, large ears & soft silky fur
  • Common wombats have small button like noses, small ears & coarse hair
  • Common wombats average 26kg, whereas Southern Hairy-nose wombats get between 19 & 30kg & Northerns up to 40kg
  • Northerns live in central Qld and are critically endangered
  • Southerns live in Western & South Australia in small pockets
  • Commons live in NSW, Vic & Tas and a tiny area in the very south eastern corner of Qld and in the South eastern corner of South Australia