Interesting facts and information and the Australian Wombat

Welcome to Koala Express Interesting Wombat Facts and Information.
Here you will find comprehensive wombat photos and amazing facts.

The wombat lives in hilly forest country and it likes to burrow underground. A wombat burrow can be as long as 20 metres. Wombats quickly dig complicated tunnels with their strong legs and sharp claws, and then they push loosened soil away with their hind feet. Did you know that a wombat likes to live alone?

The entrance to the female Wombat's pouch faces backwards. This is to prevent dirt from entering it when it is burrowing.

wombat family

wally the wombat Wombats live alone in their burrows, but other wombats may be in a tunnel close by, or sometimes burrows can interconnect. Wombats are very shy animals. Wombats usually rest in or near their burrows during the day and come out at night to eat.

Farmers consider wombats pests because they damage crops and fences, and cattle may break their legs by stepping in wombat burrows. The burrows also provide shelter for rabbits which also damage crops. For these reasons, farmers are often eager to rid their farms of all wombats. The hairy-nosed wombat lives in dry, grassy regions of Australia.
This kind of wombat uses its burrow to control its temperature. By staying in its burrow during the day, the wombat keeps cool and conserves water in the summer, and stays warm in the winter

There are three species of Wombats
(an Australian Marsupial animal)

1) Common
2) Northern Hairy Nosed
3) Southern Hairy Nosed

Wombats in General

WOMBAT, common name for three species of burrowing MARSUPIAL. Wombats have long claws that are adapted for digging, and they live in burrows, from which they emerge at night to feed on grasses and other plants. The teeth of wombats are of continuous growth, and, a single pair of chisel like incisors is found in each jaw. Young Wombats are born singly and each is carried in its mother's pouch.

Difference between Common and Hairy Nosed Wombats

The common wombat, of southern Australia is the largest, attaining a maximum length of about 91 cm (about 36 in). It is tailless and stocky, and its thick, coarse fur varies in color from yellow to black The two species of hairy-nosed wombats differ from the common wombat species in having longer, pointed ears, a hairy muzzle, and soft, silky fur.

Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat
Subclass: Marsupialia

In the nineteenth century this species of wombat was present in New South Wales and Victoria. It now survives only in a small national park near Epping Forest Station in tropical Queensland. (Likely to become extinct if threats continue, as it is Australia's most endangered mammal)

hairy nosed wombat

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Where to find them


Semi-arid woodland and grassland on sandy soil in Epping Forest National Park in central Queensland. Though Epping Forest National Park is 3,300 ha the Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat is only found in one 300 ha site which is now fenced to keep out cattle and sheep


Head and body: 80-100cm
Tail: 3-5cm
Distribution:less than 10,000 square kilometers
Abundance: very sparse (last count in 1993 was 65)
Status: endangered
Size:35 cm high, 1m long
Weight: up to 40 kg, females slightly heavier than males

The curious name (Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat)comes from its distinctive muzzle which is covered with short brown hairs. The wombat is strong and heavily built, with short, powerful legs and strong claws that are used to dig burrows or search for suitable plants and roots to eat. Its fur is soft, silky, and mainly brown, mottled with grey, fawn and black. It has a broad head with black patches around their eyes. The ears are long and slightly pointed with tufts of white hair on the edges. These paws are of the "common wombat"


By day wombats sleep in a burrow. Although mostly solitary, wombats often share burrows .

The northern hairy-nosed wombat is one of the world's rarest mammals. The northern hairy-nosed wombat is the largest herbivorous burrowing mammal in the world.
The northern hairy-nosed wombat has a backwards-opening pouch to reduce soiling of its pouch enclosure that otherwise would occur when it digs its burrow.

hairy nosed wombat


At night wombats feed on coarse grasses, herbs and roots.

The Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat gives birth to one young during the wet season (Nov - Apr). The young wombat stays in the mothers pouch for 6 to 9 months. They leave their mother at about 12 months.

Preservation Program
A major recovery program is underway, funded by the Queensland and Commonwealth governments to the tune of $250,000 per year. It involves major research and management programs and includes studies of genetics, reproduction, behavior, diet.

Management aims to improve the quality and diversity of pasture species available to the wombats by slashing, burning and seeding. The long-term aim is to establish another wild population to reduce the risks inherent in having only one.
But until the population builds up, this can not be done yet!

The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latrifrons) is an arid climate animal and only lives in a few areas of southern South Australia and Western Australia. It's range was much wider before European settlement. It is well adapted to it's harsh environment where it must survive without water in high temperatures.

southern hairy nosed wombat


The available food tends to be fibrous and low in water and protein. It lives in extensive warrens where the atmosphere is cool and humid during the hot daytime. Its body temperature falls to conserve both energy and water. The resting metabolic rate is slower than Common Wombats and food is thoroughly ground up and passes very slowly through the gut (8 days) for maximum nutrient extraction. Its burrow system is more social than for Common Wombats where 5 to 10 animals consisting of both sexes may live together.


A warren system consists of a central set of burrows often occupied by the males and smaller warrens within about a 150m radius where females reside for varying periods. Hairy-nosed Wombat breeding is more seasonal and male aggressive behavior is usually restricted to that season.

wombat road sign

Young are usually born September to December and spend the next six to nine months in the pouch. Sexual maturity occurs at about 3 years of age. Hairy-nosed Wombats require a minimum of three good seasons to increase their population. In arid areas this is not common, so it pays to be long lived (and patient) to make the most of the good times when they occur.

Geographic Range
Australian: This species is now found in only a few areas of South Australia, including the Gawler Ranges, the southern portion of the Nullabor, and west of Penong. They used to be distributed much more widely .

Physical Characteristics
Mass: 30 to 40 kg.

The southern hairy-nosed wombat is a squat quadruped with short, thick limbs that are equipped with short flattened claws. Its tail is reduced. Its proportions are typical of digging mammals. These are the smallest of the wombats, attaining a meter in length at most.

southern hairy nosed wombat

They have a large, broad head that sports small eyes and pointed ears. The two incisors on the upper and lower jaws fit together for gnawing, are chiseled, and they have enamel only on the front surfaces. With no canines present, these animals also have a large diastema separating the incisors and cheek teeth. Traces of cheek pouches are also present (Lawlor, 1979) . Often likened to a large badger, it is also considered to resemble the bear and pig. The fur of this wombat covers the entire body, including the nose, hence its name.

Though often slow going, these marsupials have been known to play with appearingly limitless energy. Their strength and reports of their ability to run at approximately 40 km/hr have earned them the nickname "bulldozers of the bush," as they trample down any obstacles in their path.

Food Habits

This species is mainly nocturnal, feeding upon grasses, roots, sedges, bark, and fungi which are often highly fibrous and low in water and protein. The native Australian plants on which they feed have a high concentration of silica, which is vary abrasive to the teeth of these animals and easily erodes them. L. latifrons have teeth that grow continuously though their lifetime.

Due to the arid environment in which this species lives, it has developed some means of conserving water. First, the animal spends much of the hot day in its cool warren, causing its body temperature to fall. This conserves both energy and water. The resting metabolic rate also falls, becoming much slower in L.latifrons than in that of its cousin the Common Wombat.

Secondly, the digestive period is very slow (8 days), which allows for maximum extraction of nutrition (Barboza & Hume, 1992). Lastly, the kidneys of this species are egg-shaped in appearance with a larger number of collecting ducts per square millimeter in the medulla. The increased length of the proximal section of the nephron and its degree of convolution
indicate result in a larger surface area than other species of wombats.

This increased surface area allows maximum water absorption. and maximum secretion of unwanted substances. Hence, urinary pH is significantly lower, and levels of sodium, chloride, urinary ammonia, creatinine,
and plasma sodium are higher than other wombat species.


Though breeding can occur at any time of year, most young are born from September to December. The female marsupium, or pouch, opens posteriorly and has two nipples.

2 wombats

Though two offspring are sometimes born, there is usually only one at birth. It remains in the mother's pouch for six to nine months. After exiting the pouch, the offspring follows its mother for nearly another year and tends to play biting games. Young become sexually mature at 2 to 3 years of age. Male aggressive behavior is usually restricted to around the time of breeding (Schrieber, 1996). Most wild wombats can be expected to live up to five years or more, while those in captivity have lived up to twenty years.


All wombats are diggers, as is suggested by their powerful front limbs. The burrows range from short (2 to 5 m) to extensive network systems of 20 to 30 m. The animal uses the short, flattened claws of the strong front limbs to dig into a hillside or creek slope. Rocks and loose earth are pushed out by the back legs. Animals then rotate, lying on their sides to enlarge the sides and roof.

L. latifrons is a social species and often congregates in groups of 5 to 10 animals of both sexes. The warren system is constructed with a central set of burrows usually occupied by the males, while the females reside in smaller warrens within a 150m radius
(Schrieber, 1997).

These wombats spend most of the day sleeping in their burrows. Feeding primarily at night, they have few natural predators. I t is likely that only a dingo could take an adult. The only other animal large enough to possibly be able to harm a small wombat would be a Wedge-tail Eagle, and these are diurnal. Should any fox or dog chase a wombat into its burrow, it is met with grunting sounds similar to those made by a pig, and it risks being crushed to death against the wall of the burrow by the wombat's 30 kg or more mass.

L. latifrons lives primarily in arid regions.
Biomes: desert
^ Economic Importance for Humans

Before being protected by law, it was often hunted for the value of its fur pelt.

Due to their strength and determination, they often push through farm fences, leaving a hole large enough for
undesirable intruders such as dingos, foxes and rabbits.

Status: special concern

This species of wombat has seen its range drastically reduced since the coming of the first Europeans. Due to deforestation, farming requirements and insatiable human desire for pasture lands, the availability of the wombat's once plentiful habitat has shrunk.

There are conflicting views as to whether or not this specie is common. Some experts list it as being plentifully and others as "not a common animal even in preferred habitats" (Schierber, 1997). What is certain is that though wombats are protected, they are often shot as vermin. They also tend to be frequent victims of cars due to their nocturnal habits and slow going.

The most numerous and widespread is the Common Wombat (Vombatus ursinus). This animal is found from the Queensland/New South Wales border, around the coastal (not usually in the dry interior) band through to South Australia.

common wombat

It prefers forest covered hill or mountainous areas that provide both good hillsides to burrow in to and native grasses to eat. Adult wombats are BIG. They can weigh in at 40kg although 30kg is more common. They are very strong and determined animals which sometimes gets them into trouble with farmers.

Presented with a fence they will often push their way through and leave a hole large enough for less desirable intruders such as Dingoes and rabbits. While Wombats are a protected species, there are still some areas particularly in Victoria where they are shot as vermin.

There is a subspecies of the Common Wombat which is now only found on Flinders Island in Bass Strait. It was found on other Bass Strait islands but is now extinct there. It is smaller than its mainland cousin and has the scientific name Vombatus ursinus ursinus.

Common Wombats

Wombats are smart. They have a large brain and they know how to use it. They are frolicsome and will play with what seems like inexhaustible energy. They are also quite fast afoot, able to run at around 40 km/hr. They are particularly fast and smart when a packet of chocolate biscuits is about to be put out of reach.

(First rule of Wombat keeping - never get between a Wombat and a source of chocolate biscuits. Remember you can't out-run it, you almost certainly can't out-wrestle it, but you will be stream-rolled by it. So if it comes to a choice of being assaulted by a Wombat or giving up your favorite biscuits, surrender the biscuits, it's less painful.)

Note the Wombat in the photo is running straight at the camera and appears to have all legs off the ground! They really can run. Fortunately for the photographer, the wombat (Brutus) was only young at the time.

running wombat

Wombats as everyone knows dig holes, big holes. Their burrows may extend up to 20 or 30m long. Shorter burrows (2 to 5m.) are made and used as well. They are usually made by digging into a hillside or creek slope.
They are dug with the short flattened claws of the strong front legs.

The back legs are used to pushed loose earth and rocks out of the way. The burrow is enlarged by lying on the side and scratching out the sides and roof. (Second rule of Wombat keeping - Never keep a Wombat in a Mud brick house. They will lie on their sides and while away the hours digging through your walls.)

They occupy these burrows during the daytime usually alone, but sometimes shared with other individuals. Wombats may share burrows depending on ranges but usually at different times. An individual may visit up to four burrows per night. Any dog or fox insane enough to chase a Wombat into its burrow risks being crushed to death between the wall of the burrow and 30kg or so of solid muscle.

The photograph shows a young Wombat in a peaceful moment of gastronomic bliss. The dish is straight grass without the usual issue of bottled milk or biscuits. Wombats have rootless teeth that grow continuously throughout their lifetime (rather like rodents).

young wombat


Wombats are rather like us, they breed anytime. Females have a rear opening pouch with two nipples although usually only one young is raised at a time. Wombats communicate their Junior will remain in the pouch for about six months
before it is either kicked out or leaves peacefully. It will then follow its mother for nearly another year. Having raised a young wombat I have some sympathy for mother wombats. The young tend to play biting games that must drive the mothers crazy (see page on Brutus). Young Wombats mature sexually at about two years and can expect to live at least 5 years or more.
Wombats in captivity can live long lives of around twenty years.

The wombat's teeth never stop growing, allowing it to grind its food even when old. Wombats have poor eyesight but keen senses of smell and hearing.

wombat eating

Geographic Range

Australian: The common wombat inhabits the hilly or mountainous coastal country of southeastern South Australia and as well, Tasmania and Flinders Island in Bass Strait. It used to occupy the other islands of Bass Strait, however, through hunting of humans, it has become extinct. Some zoologists have restricted the range of V. ursinus to Tasmania and Flinders Island and regard the mainland form as a second species, V. hirsutus.

Physical Characteristics
Mass: 15 to 35 kg.

The common wombat's average body size, from the head to the end of its body, ranges from 700 to 1,200mm. The wombat's tail is a mere stub. The general coloration of the animal varies from yellowish buff, silver gray, light gray, gray, dark brown, or black. Males and females have thick, heavy bodies, small eyes, flattened heads, round ears, and coarse, harsh fur. The common wombat is also equipped with short, powerful legs and long, strong fore claws for digging their large, often complex burrows. Females have a pouch that opens posteriorly.

Food Habits
The common wombat is herbivorous. It feeds mainly on native grass, roots of shrubs and trees, sedges, matrushes, and fungi, using its forefeet to tear and grasp pieces of vegetation. Some individuals forage among refuse along the seashore. Its teeth are very much like those of rodents. Interestingly enough, the common wombat's teeth have adapted to breaking up its tough, highly fibrous food. Because of this, both upper and lower jaws have a single pair of incisors. These incisors. are chisel-like and grow continuously, being kept to a reasonable size by constant wear.

The gestation period of female wombats has been estimated at 20 days.
Young appear to be born at any time of the year, but births probably peak in late autumn (April to June in Australia).

baby wombat

Females have pouches, like those of kangaroos, in which the young complete their development. As mentioned above, the female's pouch opens posteriorly. The pouch contains two teats; however, the normal liter size is one, although twins are known.

Young first leave the pouch at six to seven months, but may return occasionally for three more months. Weaning may not occur until they are 15 months old and sexual maturity is attained after two years. The average life span is five years, although this species is capable of a long life span in captivity. The record longevity is 26 years and 1 month.

The major causes of death in wild populations include starvation during droughts,
outbreaks of mange, predation by dingoes, and collisions with road vehicles.

The common wombat is mainly a solitary animal, except during the breeding season.

common wombat

Individual wombats live in a series of burrows called warrens. There are generally three types of burrows: minor, medium and major. The minor burrows, usually up to 2m long, are made by the common wombat in an effort to quickly escape unfavorable conditions. The medium burrows (2 to 5m long) are mainly used for refuge, but eventually they develop into major burrows, which contain more than one sleeping chamber and several entrances.

Generally, only one wombat is found per burrow, and observations of wombats kept in captivity indicate that keeping more than one individual in an enclosure often results in fighting and injury. While the common wombat is generally an unsocial animal, in captivity compatible individuals have sometimes successfully been kept together. An observation of a wild population in Victoria in the 1970's recorded that while only one wombat was found per burrow, individuals were sociable and would visit each other's burrows.

The common wombat is usually nocturnal, especially during warmer seasons, and emerges above ground at night when the air is cool. Some have been seen emerging during the daylight to bask or feed during the winter or other cooler periods.

Their home range varies according to feeding areas, and individuals maintain separate feeding areas through scent-marking, vocalization, and aggressive behavior. The common wombat is extremely sensitive to touch, especially near the hindquarters; touching them causes them to kick backward with both hind feet. When annoyed, they make a hissing growl.

Requirements for living include a temperate, humid microclimate, suitable burrowing conditions, and native grasses for food.


Slopes above creeks and gullies are favored sites for burrows. They mainly inhabit the wetter, sub humid, eucalypt forests, the hilly, or mountainous coastal country.

Biomes: temperate forest & rainforest, temperate grassland.

Economic Importance for Humans

In 1965 the common wombat was wildly hunted because its fur had commercial importance.
Recently it has been hunted for sport.

The common wombat is classed as vermin in eastern Victoria, mainly because of its damage to rabbit proof fences. Many times the common wombat's burrows pass under rabbit proof fences, which allows rabbits to get around those fences. This is a major nuisance to people who wish to either keep rabbits in the fence or keep them out of the enclosed area.
Also, the openings of the wombat's burrows are hazardous to large livestock.

Status: special concern

The decline of the common wombat has resulted from humans exterminating them, hunting for sport, and competition for food with rabbits. Each species of wombat is protected to some degree in the different states in Australia,
except in Victoria, where they are still threatened by hunting.

Other Comments
Evidence from the fossil record shows that there was once a wombat species as large as a hippopotamus.

An adult wombat has few natural enemies, the Dingo probably being the main predator.

adult wombat

Humans and their cars account for many wombat deaths per year but where humans are scarce wombat numbers are limited by the availability of food. Wombats have a home territory which, depending on the environment may be anything from 5 to 25 hectares. Territories are marked and defended with scent markings, burrows and aggressive behavior.

Male Wombats will go through a threat display if an unwelcome (wombat) visitor trespasses on a favoured feeding ground by swinging his head from side to side, showing and gnashing his teeth, and growling. This will often be sufficient to drive away a rival, but wombat fights can occur and considerable damage can result from powerful bites.

Have your heard about little 'Caddy' the baby wombat?
She is lucky to be alive after her mother was hit by a car and unfortunately killed. She is a very lucky little wombat to have survived such a horrible ordeal.

caddy the baby wombat

Now the baby grey marsupial lives in a little "shack" at the Warrandyte Wildlife Shelter.
Manager Linda Sauvarin said because Caddy was the only wombat there at the moment, some friends were brought in.

"Two soft toys, which have been companions to hundreds of orphaned wombats over the past 15 years, help keep her company," Ms Sauvarin said

caddy the wombat peeking out

She's a dear little thing. She came to us when she was only 900g, now she's 2.2kg.

caddy the little baby wombat

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