What are Wombats?
Do you know what a Wombat is? After scratching your head for some time you’d probably say it is a small town in New South Wales. But hey, do you know that Wombat is actually a cute little furry creature found in Australia and the town is actually named after the animal! Wombats are Australian marsupials. Seemingly serene and gentle you might be tempted to pet them but beware they can get really aggressive at times as they are naturally wild in nature. I shall tell you more about Wombats, so read on.
What are Wombats?
Wombats are marsupials found mainly in forests, mountainous regions and heathlands of South-eastern Australia and Tasmania. About a meter in length, these are short-legged muscular quadrupeds with a short tail. They are the closest relatives of the koala and like them they have a backward opening pouch.
Marsupials are actually an infraclass of mammals that have a marsupium or pouch which may be transient or permanent. They bear a similarity to mammals in the sense that they have furry bodies and give birth to young ones that are suckled by the mother. However their gestation period is very short, about 12-14 days and thus they give birth to undeveloped young. The newborn, called joey, instinctively climbs out of the mother’s birth canal and crawls into the pouch and attaches itself to the mother’s teat. The joey remains inside the pouch during the entire lactation period which may vary from weeks to months. During this period the mother nurses the baby while the composition of her milk changes depending on the developmental stage of the young. Once the Joey matures they come out of the pouch.
Species of Wombats
Wombats are marsupials that are predominantly found in Australia. These are short, bear-like, furry and chubby creature having teeth like placental rodents which can be regrown if broken due to chewing of tough vegetation. These are crepuscular or nocturnal creatures and they are active either at twilight or at night. They mostly remain in their burrows as they cannot tolerate high temperatures and can even die due to excessive heat. There are three living species of Wombats and I shall tell you something about them.
Species of Wombats:
The living species of Wombats are as follows:
Queensland or Northern hairy-nosed Wombat
Southern hairy-nosed Wombat
What is the Common Wombat?
The Common Wombat which is also called the Coarse-haired Wombat has an average size of 98cm and a weight of 26kgs. It is found mainly in the eastern and southern parts of Australia which are comparatively cooler and more watered parts. The Common Wombat weighs about 20-40 kilograms and its head and body measure up to 100cm. It can breed every two years.
What is the Northern hairy-nosed Wombat?
The Northern hairy-nosed Wombat, also called the Yaminon, is found mainly in South Wales, Victoria and Queensland and is a critically endangered species. These are slightly larger than the Common Wombat and can give birth to two joeys every two years. Their nose is of critical importance to them as they are poor-sighted and need to smell their food in the dark.
What is the Southern hairy-nosed Wombat?
These are the smallest Wombats found mainly in the dry grasslands in the Southern part of Australia. It is enlisted as a vulnerable species and it is believed that scanty rainfall is the cause of unsuccessful breeding of this species.