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Happy Wombat Day !
Today, October 22, is the annual wombat day for Australians since 2005. Adjusting for time zones, the world wombat day is rather celebrated on October 23rd.
But what is a wombat exactly? You may know their more popular cousins better, but Wombats are very interesting too! Let's take a moment today to learn about this loveable fluffy quadruped, that simply looks like a big teddy bear. However, don't try to pick one up in your arms, as they are mighty strong and stubborn wild creatures!
Read more about this often overlooked teddy bear!
What is a Wombat
Wombats are curious and adorable animal native to Australia and Tasmania, mostly in the south-east coast. Like many Australian animals, they have evolved separately from the mainland for much of history, since long ago. This created branches of species that are not seen anywhere else, but that seem to be made of parts from other more familiar animals. This is why wombats have distinctive features that are very specialized and adapted to their environments.
Wombats are short and muscular quadrupeds with small stubby tails and legs. They look like a breed between big rodents (like beavers or capybaras) and mammals (like boars or bears). They could also be compared to badgers, moles or groundhogs. But in fact, they are actually marsupials, similar to kangaroos and koalas. The baby wombat, called a Joey, lives inside his mother's pouch for up to 6 months, as is typical of all marsupials. But unlike kangaroos, the wombat's pouch is upside down, facing backwards, rather than forward or up. This allows the Joey to flee discretely, while the mother stands ground to a predator if needed.
Wombats are shy, but playful animals, that have been known to chase, roll, jump and flip for fun. They are herbivores with a very slow metabolism, that can take up to 2 weeks to digest a single meal. They are able to live in very arid environments, but prefer a wet climate with forests, grasslands, and like their cousin the Koalas, eucalyptus forests. They are, however, adaptable to various habitats: from forests to plains, mountains, snowy and heath-land (shrub) areas.
Wombats are rarely seen in the wild because they are nocturnal, burrowing and endangered. They are most often seen when they fall victim to roadside accidents. Wombats are very discreet because of their burrowing behavior. They are expert at digging tunnels with their teeth, short legs and strong claws. In fact, they create extensive networks of tunnels in burrows that can reach up to 30 meters in length, which can be a nuisance for agriculture. Luckily, they are generally solitary animals that do not live in a group, but their tunnels may interconnect with relatives.
But there's a wombat that is trained for selfies, waiting for you at the Billabong animal sanctuary.
All wombats are now protected by law in most of Australia. Some species, like the Nothern hairy-nosed wombat, is even on the endangered list as one of the rarest animals on earth. He is said to be living on less than 3 square kilometers. The main hurdle to its lifestyle is the loss of habitat due to human encroachment, competition for grazing pastures with industrial farms and hunting despite regulations. They are hunted both for their gorgeous fur and as pests on farms, but they are not eaten themselves.
Small population size also plays a contributing factor in the slow progression of the species on such as large territory. You can contribute to the conservation efforts through links on this page.
There are two main groups of wombats, recognized by the presence of fur on their noses.
- Hairy-nosed wombats: have furry noses like rabbits of groundhogs
- Bare-nosed wombats: have 'wet' noses like dog or deers
Fun Wombat Facts
Wombats can produce up to 100 perfectly cube-shaped droppings. This may be an adaptation so that they don't roll elsewhere than intended and alert a predator of their presence. They also have a strong armor on their read-side, that allows them to block the entrances to their burrow efficiently while using kicks as a defence.
Coyote meets Wombat
Have a look at this great encounter between Coyote Peterson and Wanda the Wombat, on the Brave Wilderness Channel !
Body Length: up to 1 meter (40 inches)
Weight: 20kg (44lb) to 35kg (77lb)
Sprint Speed: 40 km per hour (25mph)
Lifespan: 15 to 30 years (average)
- 5 - 15 years in the wild (endangered*)
- 20 - 30 years in captivity
- The oldest wombat in captivity is 35
Gestation Period: 20-30 days,
The wombats' mating season depends on the climate they inhabit. It is usually during the winter, which is the warm season in the southern hemisphere
Species Name: Vombatus Ursinus or 'Wombats'
Species Group: Vombatidae
- Tasmanian Devils
Source Image: freeimages/ Cecilia Alegro
Wombats in Action
Have a look at some more great videos of wombats.
Meet Ali, the Wombat who loves corn.
Meet George, the rescued baby Wombat from 'Aust Reptile Park' in Australia.
Meet Wombat Pat. He's eating.
High quality Wombat video
Wombat T-Shirt Retro
Wombat Meme Shirt
Solid Silver Pendant
Read More about Wombats
- Jenny Ryall wrote a fun blog article about wombats on mashable
- Wiki article on wombats
- National geographic's article on wombats
- Amazing facts about wombats at onekindplanet
- Wombat facts at softschools
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