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Wombats

Wombats are an Australian burrowing animal.  There are three species; The Common Wombat, Vombatus ursinus, The Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat, Lasiorhinus latifrons, and the Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat, Lasiorhinus krefftii.

Relatives

The nearest living relative to the Wombat is the Koala.  There are several extinct species of Wombat.  They are also related to theDiprotodon which was the biggest extinct Marsupial known.

Size

Wombats can grow to over 30 Kilograms (66 pounds) although the average is less.  They are the biggest burrowing herbivorous animal in the world.   Wombats have a big brain for their size.

Intelligence

Wombats are an intelligent animal but people disagree about how intelligent.  Some put its intelligence as being roughly equal to that of a Dog while others think they are quite a bit more intelligent than a Dog.

This is surprising.  High intelligence usually seems to be associated with predators like Dogs, Cats and Quolls, or with Omnivores like Humans, Pigs and Apes.

Considering the fairly high energy requirements to grow and support a big brain, and the Wombats diet and life style it is particularly odd.

Diet

Wombats are mostly grazing animals, preferring to eat young green native grasses.  The vicinity of active Wombat burrows is often covered with short green “lawns”.  In times of drought they will eat more fibrous things like the bark and roots of trees.

Digestion

Wombats have an extremely efficient digestive system.  It is better at getting all possible nutrients from the sometimes indigestible food than the digestion of animals like Cattle and Rabbits.

Water

Wombats use the water from their food very efficiently.  One simple way they save water is to go underground in hot weather, only coming out at night.  They may go a long time without drinking, but can drink deeply if they need to.

Threats

Wombats are threatened by many things. 

Humans kill them with guns and poisons because of the nuisance of their burrows. 

Vehicles run into them on the roads.

Rabbits come and eat their preferred foods.

Foxes spread Mange that can kill a Wombat.

Climate change potentially threatens them in many parts of their range.  Wombats need good seasons to raise the babies.  If there are less good seasons now they may not be able to have babies.

Fumigation and ripping of their borrows occurs.  Sometimes it is actually aimed at Rabbits rather than Wombats.

Types of Wombat

Northern hairy nosed Wombat

This species only occurs in a small area of Queensland.  Although there is some evidence of increase in numbers, it is critically endangered, and is very close to extinction.  There may only be about 25 females of breeding age.

Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat

This Wombat lives in southern South Australia and adjacent parts of Western Australia.  There is disagreement about how threatened this species is.  Certainly there is no cause for complacency.

Common Wombat

This is the Wombat that is least threatened.  In fact it does not even have legal protection over all its range yet.

It lives in Tasmania and coastal areas of Victoria, New South Wales, southern Queensland and a small part of south eastern South Australia.
 
Web Wombat
 
The Web Wombat is an Australian Search Engine.

 
The Diprotodon is the largest extinct marsupial known.  It is often refered to as a giant Wombat, and it appears to be closely related.


 

Sources

http://www.australianfauna.com/wombat.php

http://www.webwombat.com.au/

http://www.wombania.com/wombats/

http://www.wombadilliac.com.au/

http://www.perthzoo.wa.gov.au/Animals--Plants/Australia/Australian-Bushwalk/Southern-Hairy-nosed-Wombat/.

http://www.qccqld.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=104&Itemid=60

http://www.qccqld.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=115&Itemid=67

http://www.wombat.echidna.id.au/home.htm

http://www.nana.asn.au/index.htm

http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/publications/fauna-of-australia/pubs/volume1b/32-ind.pdf

   
   
 
Common Wombat,
Vombatus ursinus
Photo by thomasgl
 
 
 
Southern Hairy nosed Wombat, Lasiorhinus latifrons
By Stygiangloom [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
 
1877 Picture of a Wombat with two Thylacines.
 

Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) and wombat lithograph from the "Instructive picture book."