There are three types of Wombat in Australia
The Common Wombat (Vombatis ursinis)
The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons)
The Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii) **
** Also known as Queensland Hairy-nosed Wombat, and on the verge of
Wombats are a large masupial, extremely strong. They dig several burrows in their territory of up to 20 metres (22 yards) in length. Normally their burrows vary in length. Their territory can be as large as 25 hectares (62 acres) in size, but this is rare, depending on the terrain and availability of food.
They weigh as much as 40 kilograms (88 lbs) they have a large stocky head, with a broad nose. Short strong legs with extremely sharp strong claws and their rump contains cartlidge plates that have been compared to armour plating. Although their legs are short and they appear cumbersome when they walk, they are capable of reaching speeds of 40 kilometres (25 miles) per hour.
They have continually growing rootless teeth, much like those of a rodent, but they are strictly herbivorous. They eat native grasses, sedges, the roots of native shrubs and trees and matrushes. Which has led to their downfall in many areas when their natural food source has been interfered with by man.
Because they are masupial, the females have the normal pouch, but it faces backwards to protect the young from dirt whilst digging. The pouch contains 2 nipples but they only normally have one baby. The mother nurtures the young one until the age of 12 months, at which time they are unceremoniously kicked out to fend for themselves. Although they usually stick pretty close to their mother but from a distance.
Wombats reach sexual maturity at 2 years of age. Mating takes place in summer.
The Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat is in serious trouble, nearing extinction. In an area as small as 300 hectares (740 acres) there are between 65 and 75 wombats alive. This number has not increased since 1985 even though considerable precautions have been taken, such as fencing out cattle and sheep. They resist artificial feeding, refusing hand outs of their
natural food. Preferring to forage for themselves. They resist breeding when the droughts occur, which is often. They also resist breeding in captivity for release later on. It’s imperative that a 2nd colony be established as soon as possible to aleviate the possibility of the entire colony being wiped out in case of bushfire, disease or some other disaster occurring.
The Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage is currently working feverishly on research on Wombat ecology, genetics, reproduction, predators, competitors, habitat management, supplementary feeding strategies, translocation and captive management. So with a little bit of luck and good animal practices, these treasures will be saved. To have what appears to be such a strong animal in such a perilous position is disconcerting to say the least. To see one of these creatures in the bush, lumbering along is a thrill that’s difficult to explain. It’s rare to see them in daylight hours, being mostly nocturnal, but they do occasionally sunbake or wander around near their burrow. You can usually tell when a burrow is currently being occupied, by the square shaped droppings at the entrance.