Wombats are marsupials, bear-like mammals who enjoy burrowing and feeding on plants and vegetation. There are three species and they are all members of the family Vombatidae. They are adaptable and habitat tolerant and are found in forested, mountainous, and heathland areas of southern and eastern Australia
There is a great deal of controversy about whether wombats are dangerous or friendly as pets. Although they’re not generally not kept as pets, their cuteness and long lifespan make many believe that they can be great cuddle buddies. They’re unpredictable and can attack humans in their defense, highly destructive, they can’t be trained, and it takes a lot of financial investment to own one.
Some people keep wombats as pets. So the idea of having them as pets is not out of the question. If you’re looking to get one yourself, then this piece will be greatly beneficial to you. Find out more about their diet, species, habitat, square poop, lifespan,Faqs and other interesting facts about them.
What is a Wombat and what do they look like?
A wombat is a short-legged, burrowing pouched animal(marsupial) native to Australia.
Wombats look like short, stocky bears. Their fur is brown, tan or grey with stubby tails. They have a large, blunt head with small eyes and ears, and a short, muscular neck. Their sharp claws and stubby, powerful legs make them great diggers.
The have a plantigrade posture where the heel contributes to support of body weight during walking or running
There are 3 wombat species/types; the common wombat(bare-nosed), the southern and northern hairy-nosed wombats
The common Wombat
The common wombat (Vombatus ursinus), also known as the coarse-haired wombat or bare-nosed wombat is the most common and widespread wombat species. It has naked snout covered in grainy skin
Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat
The southern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons is smaller and much rarer than the common wombat. It has larger ears than the common wombat, and its snout is coated with fine hairs.
It is found in semiarid country mainly in South Australia, extending through the Nullarbor Plain into the southeast of Western Australia.
Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat
The Queensland, or northern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii) is extremely rare. It is in fact one of the rarest mammals on earth. At some point it was even considered extinct. It is largest. Individuals can be 35 cm high, up to 1 m long and weigh up to 40 kg
It differs in cranial details; it is protected by law, and most of the population lives within Epping Forest National Park in central Queensland
The hairy-nose types are known to be more sociable and they also make a grassy nest at the end of the burrow.
Why are Wombats Dangerous as Pets?
Adult wombats are quite huge which makes their mess unbearable when they choose to destroy or bite people and pets.
Possibility of Attack
Wombats have a calm temperament. However, when they’re grumpy, angered, or just in a false mood, they won’t hesitate to attack.
They can hurt you using their long sharp claws or deep bites that cause puncture wounds. What’s more, they can also break or fracture your bones by turning you over.
This isn’t a likely occurrence for baby wombats, but as they mature, they become aggressive, unpredictable, and uncontrollable.
They Can Easily Cause Damage
If you decide to keep them captive at home, you can be rest assured of destruction from holes on fences, broken doors and walls (unless it’s concrete or steel), burrows underneath, and much more.
Generally, because of their weight and strength, they aren’t manageable at home and could get aggressive if and when you decide to tame them by force.
Even though the wombat is native to Australia, a big section of the area doesn’t legally allow for the domestication of the marsupial. Only registered wildlife carers are allowed to keep them captive, as well as individuals living in states that allow for domestication.
Moreover, it’s illegal to import them to foreign countries. Hence, to avoid any legal issues, you would better stay clear.
Wombats are heavyweights and therefore, need a lot of space. Moreover, they’re known as the burrowing herbivores that can burrow between three to 30 meters, building a tunnel large enough to fit them. They’re nocturnal and seen more active at night.
These are contrary behaviors than the usual domesticated pets. They need a natural environment where they’re free to maneuver and live as they wish.
The best part about owning a pet, say a dog, is the ability to train them. Giving commands/ cues, easier communication, and the ability to control them. Unfortunately, that’s not something that can be done with wombats. Adult wombats can’t be trained nor controlled and therefore left to live as they prefer which is risky and unsafe for you.
Are Wombats Friendly?
The best thing about wombats is that they’re calm, friendly, and have a lovable temperament. But that’s only when they’re babies. They love to cuddle and spend time playing around.
Burrowing and destruction aren’t as much as adults, hence can be managed. But this span lasts only a short time. When they mature, their behaviors change as well.
Another great advantage of wombats as pets is their lifespan. Living a good 15 years feels like you can spend plenty of time together.
Unfortunately, these marsupials are not safe to domesticate. Which is why it remains illegal to keep them, leaving captivity to trained wildlife carers. If you want to keep them, a baby wombat would be the best choice otherwise the adults are not easy to keep.
Wombat Size-How big are Wombats?
Wombats are medium to large size animals that grow up 1 meter (40 inches) in length and 19kg to 41kg (42-90lbs) in weight. The length and weight vary depending on age, feeding habits and the species. The common wombat is the largest in size.
Baby Wombats to Full-grown Adults
The name of baby wombat is joey. Other baby marsupial mammals are also given the same name.At birth, a wombat joey is tiny and hairless, and is about the size of about two grams. It climbs into its mom’s pouch where it attaches to a teat and remains there for the first few months of life
According to the Wombat Information Center, a baby wombat, also called a Joey, is about two grams at birth. Because of its delicate nature, it climbs into its mom’s pouch where it attaches to a teat and remains there for at least five months. After which they will weigh seven to 14 pounds (3.4 – 6.5 kgs).
Weaning off the joey continues for another year to around 15 months after which they are slowly let go to develop. They become a complete adult at 18 months.
At 18 months, most if not all wombats will have matured to the size of a medium-sized dog. They will weigh 40 to 70 pounds(19 – 33 kg), maybe more for the common wombat species.Their average height is 30 inches (80 – 130 cm).
Adult wombats will have a change of temperament from a calm and peaceful one to a more aggressive one. As they mature, they learn to defend themselves by crushing their predators’ heads against the burrow walls. Being this protective of themselves makes it hard for anyone to approach without getting hurt.
You will also notice that the adult wombat prefers solitude. They love to go about their business alone, whether it’s burrowing, feeding, or just resting, they enjoy their own company. This often makes them territorial, hence also hiding in their tunnels often.
What do Wombats Eat?
Wombats are strictly herbivorous grazers; they have a simple stomach and a short, broad cecum.
They eat native grasses such as the tussocky ‘snow grass’, wallaby grass and kangaroo grass. Their diets also consist of sedges, herbs, bark, and roots.
They cut their food with sharp, chisel-like front teeth.The single pair of continuously growing rootless incisors teeth are adapted to gnaw tough vegetation. The teeth are heavily built with enamel on anterior and lateral surfaces only and rodent-like in form.
They are known to spend between 3 and 8 hours each night grazing on grass. Although wombats will share burrows, they are possessive about their particular feeding grounds.
They mark out these areas by leaving scent trails and droppings around the boundaries. If an intruding wombat moves in on their territory, it will be discouraged through a series of snorts, screeches and even a chase.
Why do Wombats Poop Squares/Cubes?
Other than being champion diggers, another salient characteristic that makes wombats special is their distinctive cubic feces.
According to researchers, the distinctive cube shape of wombat poop is caused as a result of the drying of the faeces in the colon, and muscular contractions, which form the uniform size and corners of the poop.
Wombats arrange these feces to mark territories and attract mates, it is believed that the cubic shape makes them more stackable and less likely to roll, which gives this shape a biological advantage.
The adult wombat produces between 80 and 100, 2 cm (0.8 in) pieces of feces in a single night, and four to eight pieces each bowel movement. In 2019 the production of cube-shaped wombat feces was the subject of the Ig Nobel Prize for Physics
Where do Wombats Live?
The common wombat lives mainly in wet, partly forested areas on the coast, and on the ranges and western slopes while southern hairy-nosed wombat prefers dry, open country.
Both species live in burrows, preferring well-drained soils that are easy to dig in. The burrows, which are often built on the sides of gullies, can be up to 30 metres long, and several metres deep.
Wombats generally stay in the burrows during the day, kept warm in winter and cool in summer. They will often share their home with other wombats.
Wombat Lifespan-How long do Wombats Live?
Wombats typically live up to 15 years in the wild, but can live past 20 and even 30 years in captivity. In South Australia in 2010, a domesticated wombat named Wally was also reported as having reached the age of 34. Hamlet, a wombat at the Toronto Zoo, similarly died at age 34.
Are Wombats Marsupials?
Definitely yes! As a marsupial, wombats have a baby poach just like a kangaroo and koala, however, their poach is backward; it opens toward the bottom, instead of towards the chest. This prevents dirt and debris from entering while burrowing.
Are wombats endangered
All three species of wombat are protected by law in Australia. They were initially not protected in Victoria but as from 2020, they are.
The northern hairy-nosed wombat is the rarest and thus considered endangered. They are endangered because of habitat destruction, and predation.
Threats to wombats include destruction of habitat due to urban sprawl and modern-day forestry practices, competition with rabbits and livestock for food, rabbit poisons, hunting, and road accidents.
Are Wombats Rodents?
Wombats are not rodents but they share a lot of habits and characteristics including
- Similar Skull
- Single pair of continuously incisors but no canines
Eagle, quolls and owls, are known to prey on the young wombats. The main predators of wombats consist of dingoes, foxes, and Tasmanian devils. Foxes also spread deadly diseases to wombats such as mange.
Do Wombats have Tails?
Wombats do have an extremely tiny vestigial tail on their rear. However, the tail is almost completely covered up by fur making it barely visible
More Interesting Facts About Wombats
- Wombats can live in their burrows for the entirety or until they’re removed from their home. These burrows are their hiding spots, plus it helps them stay out of the heat. This is also why they leave to feed at night.
- Wombat breed on a seasonal basis with mating season landing at winter times. This is to allow for enough vegetation to grow in readiness for the offspring when they’re born.
- As a marsupial, wombats have a baby poach just like a kangaroo, however, their poach is backward; it opens toward the bottom, instead of towards the chest. This prevents dirt and debris from entering while burrowing.
- Their bodies are adept at tunneling seeing as they can have up to twelve burrows in its home range with three to four main burrows. The main burrow will house a network of sub tunnels, which include multiple entrances and sleeping quarters.
- Some wombats can live a social life sharing burrows with up to twelve other wombats, something called a mob or colony.
- It takes a wombat 14 days to digest a meal. This aids in survival in arid and semi-arid areas.
- Male wombats will fight for the right to mate with a female. The coarse-haired wombat will chase a female in circles until she slows down long enough that he can catch her to mate. The female will also make a coughing noise as they are chased.
- Even with short legs, the wombat can run up to 25 mph (40 kph).
- The skin on a wombat’s bottom is very thick and can withstand bites from predators.
- Koalas and wombats are probably each other’s closest relatives. Some of the characteristics they share include pouch opening to rear, vestigial tail, presence of a peculiar glandular patch in the stomach, formation of a placenta, loss of some premolars, and details of muscle morphology
- Wombats can’t climb trees like koalas
- Wombats can live for years without drinking any water, and it can take a wombat up to 14 days to completely digest one meal.
- When threatened, wombats dive headfirst into a tunnel, blocking the entrance with their sturdy backside. Wombats have a tough rump with extra-thick skin and a tiny tail, so a bite to the backside is not much of a threat.
- https://www.livescience.com /52640-wombats.html