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.
The Different Species of Wombats
The extremely cute and adorable wombats are found in Australia. This large, pudgy mammal is a marsupial, or pouched animal also usually found on nearby scattered islands.
Claws and Tooth
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.
There are three species of Wombats (all only found in Australia):
The common –
It is distinguishably from its cousins the Southern, and Northern Hairy nosed wombats mainly by its nose which is naked, smaller ears and a more rounded head and longer fur due to its living in the colder regions of Australia.
These are strong, stout, sturdy and can move most things in their way. Adult wombats weigh in between 17kg and 40kg in a body length of between 80 cm and 130 cm with the males being a bit larger than the females.
Northern Hairy Nosed –
It is Australia’s most endangered mammal and is found in New South Wales and Victoria.
However it now survives only in a small national park near the Epping Forest Station in tropical Queensland.
This wombat grows up to a height of 80 to 100 centimetres and its tail is 3 to 5 centimetres in length. They weigh up to 50 kilos, the female counterparts being heavier than the male one.
Southern Hairy Nosed-
This wombat is South Australia’s state emblem. Its main difference in looks to the common wombat is that it has a broader nose is covered in fine hairs, which is smaller, has larger more pointy ears and its grey fur is silkier to the touch.
These wombats are found in locations which are generally semi arid to arid, and include grass plains, as well as savannas, coastal dunes and/or small scattered shrubs.
The Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat is one of the 3 species of wombats. It’s scientific name is Lasiorhinus latifrons. They are mainly found in scattered areas of semi-arid scrub and mallee from the Eastern Nullarbor Plain to the New South Wales border area.
Among the other wombats, the Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat is the smallest, at only around 775 to 935 millimeter and 20 to 32 kilograms and the young oftentimes don’t survive the dry seasons. They are classified as vulnerable by animal authorities. Though a healthy population still remains, it appears to declining as the days go by. It is feared that the consistently sparse rainfall of recent years has prevented successful breeding. Most likely this sparse rainfall is caused by the climate change. It takes 3 consecutive good seasons for a Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat to reach near adulthood which will make them sexually mature, ready for mating.
There are wombat specialists who are specially concerned that with the continious or continuation of this current trend to drier climate in Southern Australia could be a serious threat.
Their tails are 2.5-6 centimeter long.
The oldest Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats to ever walk the Earth were a male and female from Brooksfield Zoo outside Chicago, USA. They were Carver (male) who lived till 34 years old and Vicky (female) who lived till 24 years old.
It’s range is much wider before European settlement . It is well adapted to it’s harsh environment where it must survive without water in high temperatures . They mainly live in extensive warrens where the environment is cool and humid during the hot daytime. The wombat’s body temperature drops to conserve both water and energy. Their resting metabolic rate is much slower than the other wombat species. Their food is thorougly grinded-up and passes very slowly to their digestive tract, this process takes 8 days for maximum nutrient extraction.
Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat Picture
Their burrow system is more social compared to other wombat species. Their burrow system is composed of 5 to 10 wombats consisting of both sexes, living together. Their warren system is composed of a central set of burrows which is often occupied by males and smaller warren within 150 meter radius where females reside for varying time-period. The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats’ breeding is more seasonal comapred to other wombat species. And male aggressive behavior is restricted to that season only. Their youngs are usually born between September to December and they spend the next 6 to 9 months in the mother wombat’s pouch. For this particular specie, sexual maturity occurs at about 3 years of age. It requires a minimum of 3 good seasons to increase their population.
Like other wombat specie, they have similarities with their physical appearance. It is a squat-quadruped with short, thick limbs that are equipped with short fattened claws, it’s tail is shorter than the other species. They also have a large, broad head, that has small eyes and pointed ears. The two incisors on the upper and lower jaws fit together fro gnawing are chiseled and they have enamel on the front surfaces with no canines present. These wombats also have a large diastema separating the incisors and cheek teeth. There are also cheek pouches present. They are also often likened to a large Badger, they are also considered to resemble a bear and a pig.
The fur of the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat covers it’s entire body including their noses, hence it’s name.
Though they appear slow going/movers, these marsupials have been known to play with limitless energy. Their strenght and reports of their ability to run at the speed of approximately 40 kmh have earned them the nickname “Bulldozers of the Bush” as they have the ability to trample down any obstacle in their path. This specie is also mainly nocturnal, feeding on grasses, roots, sedges, bark and fungi which are highly fibrous and low in water and protein.
The female specie of this kind has 2 nipples. Though 2 offsprings are sometimes born, there is usually only 1 birth. It remains in the mother’s pouch for 6 to 9 months. After exiting the pouch, the offspring follows it’s mother for nearky another year and tends to play biting games.
Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat
Like most wild wombats they can be expected to live up to 5 years or more while those in captivity have lived up to 20 years. It is likely that only a Dingo could take an adult wombat and the only other animal that can possibly be able to harm a small wombat is a Wedge-Tail Eagle. They also tend to be frequent victims of car accidents due to their nocturnal habits and slowness.