Australian Animal Archive

Australian Wombat.

Vombatus ursinus (er-see'-nus: "bear-like wombat")

Status: Abundant.

Australian Wombat

Australia has 3 types of wombat; the most abundant is the Australian common "bear-like" wombat found in every state of Australia.

The extremely rare and endangered wombat is the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat, and the Northern Hairy-nosed wombat.

The common wombat has course, stiff hair and a hair free muzzle. During the day the wombat sleeps in a nest of vegetation or in a burrow within its home range. During the night wombats move over large areas grazing on young grasses and sledges. In the colder winter months the wombat will graze during the day.

Wombats are most intolerant of others invading their feeding grounds, which they defend aggressively and define with scent markings. Confrontations are infrequent but growling disputes can occur when a rival wombat invades anothers range. Adult males also threaten others by swaying their heads and displaying their formidable teeth.

The wombat may look a little slow and cumbersome but they are capable of speeds of up to 40km/h and are very good climbers if need be. Wombats dig shallow burrows for night-time refuges and elaborate burrows as day-time resting place. When pursued the wombat will retreat to their burrow and block the entrance with their hefty, tough rump. Their rump is tough enough to crush intruders against the sides of the burrow walls.

Sexual maturity is reached at the age of two years and breeding takes place throughout the year and peaks from September to November. The female has two teats in a backward opening pouch but usually only rears one young at a time. The young wombat will remain in the mothers pouch for about six months, after which the infant wombat will follow its mother on foot for a further 12 months until it is weaned and independent.

Characteristics:
Large, stocky build, short legs with no visible tail. Broad head, small ears and a hairless nose. Course grey/brown fur.
Habitat:
Sclerophyll forest with adjacent grazing in mountainous areas. Woodland and heath at lower altitudes.
Behaviour:
Solitary. Shelters in burrows during the day, grazes at night. Gallops noisily if disturbed.
Breeding:
Single infants are born all year round. Infants are carried in the mother pouch for six months. Remain with the mother for a further 11 - 12 months. Infant wombats make a urgent hissing sound if separated from the mother.
Feeding:
Grazes in open fields on grasses, herbs and tree roots.
Voice:
Usually silent. Males growl when confronted by rival wombats. Females and infants communicate with repeated short hissing sounds.




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