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Common Wombat Fact File

Appearance

The common wombat has a stocky, rotund body covered in thick fur. The shape of their body has been described as bear like. The fur colour ranges from cream through to brown and even black. Albino wombats have also been reported. They have short but powerful legs which end with flattened claws.

Their nose is bare which distinguished them from their cousins the hairy nosed wombats. On the top of their head are short round ears. At the end of their body is a short tail measuring just 2-3cm (0.75-1.25in).

A common wombats teeth does not have roots and as such they continue growing through their whole life.

An average wombat measures 84-115cm (33-42.3in) from the head to the end of the body. An average weight is 22-39kg (48.5-86lbs). They stand roughly 36cm (14.2in) tall.

Diet

The common wombat is a herbivore. They feed upon grasses, sedges, rushes, shrubs, bark, tree roots and tubers,

They have a large digestive tract to assist with processing the nutrients from their low quality food.

Scientific Name

Vombatus ursinus

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Weight

22-39kg (48.5-86lbs)

Length

84-115cm (33-42.3in)

Height

36cm (14.2in)

Lifespan

Wild 15 years

Captive 30 years

Record 34 years

Diet

Herbivorous

Range

Australia is the native home of the common wombat. Here they can be found in the South-East of the country throughout Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania. They are mostly found close to the coast line.

Habitat

The common wombat is found in forests, woodlands, alpine grassland, coastal scrub and heath. They are able to live in mountainous areas and have adapted to living on farmland. This brings them in to conflict with farmers who do not like the burrows which wombats dig as these can destroy crops.

Common wombats dig a burrow underground where they spend much of their life. These burrows typically only have one opening but contain many chambers underground. They may continue up to 200m (650ft) under the ground.

common wombat

Reproduction

Common wombats can breed year round but there is an increase in mating throughout winter. Males will stand behind the female and sniff her rump to determine if she is in oestrous. If the male wishes to mate with the female he will chase her and then bite her rump. Mating takes place with both lying on their side.

Both the male and female will mate with multiple partners.

Common wombats give birth to one young at a time. They breed once every 2 years due to the large amount of work required to raise each young.

As a marsupial the young wombat spends the first 6-7 months of their life in their mother’s pouch. Here they attach to a teat and suckle on milk. The pouch of a wombat faces backwards to prevent it filling with soil while they dig.

Once they leave the pouch they continue to put their head in from time to time to suckle on milk for a further 3 months. During this time the mother may leave them in a chamber of the burrow lined with dried grass and leaves while they go to forage.

They are weaned at 15 months old and sexual maturity is achieved at 2 years old.

Behaviour

They are primarily solitary only coming together for mating.

Common wombats maintain a home range though the edges of this may overlap with other wombats. They may have 4 to 6 burrows spread throughout this range. If the burrow is on the edge of their territory multiple wombats may use the same burrow but not at the same time.

Across most of their range the common wombat is nocturnal.

In the colder months they will emerge during the day to bask in the sun.

They are incredibly fast capable of reaching up to 40km/h (24.9mph) over short distances.

Wombats communicate mostly through scent marking. They also vocalize.

Predators and Threats

Natural predators of the common wombat include Tasmanian devils, dingoes, wedge tailed eagles and humans. They have a very thick rump which helps to defend against attack.

Introduced predators of the common wombat are hunting dogs.

To defend against predators the wombat has a thick rump. If an attacker enters their burrow they will use this to crush them against the roof.

They are also susceptible to mange.

Humans affect wombats through vehicle strike, hunting (mainly as retribution for destroying crops and other land), competition with farm animals and habitat destruction.

Quick facts

Common wombats have cube shaped poo which help’s to stop it rolling off items which they are attempting to scent mark. Items they may mark include logs, rocks and mushrooms.

Wombats are the largest mammal, herbivorous burrower in the world.

The wombat has the most developed brain of any marsupial.

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References

Slater, P. and Parish, S., 2016. First Field Guide To Australian Mammals. 1st ed. New South Wales: Pascal Press, p.131.

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Ambrose, J., 2015. Wildlife Of The World. 1st ed. London: Dorling Kindersley, p.337.

Jackson, S., 2003. Biology And Management Of Captive Australian Mammals. 1st ed. Collingwood, Vic.: CSIRO.

Dpipwe.tas.gov.au. 2020. Common Wombat | Department Of Primary Industries, Parks, Water And Environment,

Tasmania. [online] Available at: <https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/wildlife-management/fauna-of-tasmania/mammals/possums-kangaroos-and-wombats/wombat#Habitat> [Accessed 25 May 2020].

Australia, A., 2020. Species: Vombatus Ursinus (Bare-Nosed Wombat). [online] Bie.ala.org.au. Available

at: <https://bie.ala.org.au/species/urn:lsid:biodiversity.org.au:afd.taxon:e079f94d-3d7f-4deb-ae29-053fec4d1b53#Distribution_and_habitat> [Accessed 25 May 2020].

Taggart, D., Martin, R. & Menkhorst, P. 2016. Vombatus ursinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T40556A21958985. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T40556A21958985.en. Downloaded on 10 July 2020.

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