Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat Fact File
The southern hairy nose wombat is a stocky animal covered with silky fur which can range in color from grey to tan. Some have also been found which have fur that is almost entirely white or golden in appearance. On the black nose and the chest are white hairs.
They have a short face which has a pair of pointed ears on top. These ears are longer than those of their relative the common wombat.
Each limb ends with five digits that have a long claw to assist with digging. On the back foot the second and third toe are fused and this larger digit is used when grooming.
At the end of the body is a short tail measuring 3-6cm (1.25-2.25in) long. This is often almost entirely obscured by fur.
Southern hairy nosed wombats are the smallest of the three wombat species. They measure 77-95cm (30-37in) long. Despite being small in size they are solidly built weighing between 19 and 32kg (42-71lbs).
Southern hairy nosed wombats are herbivores. Their diet is made up of grass, herbs and other low vegetation. The leaves and stems of short shrubs may be eaten mainly during drought conditions. They have a preference for the young shoots of plants.
They have one of the lowest water requirements of any mammal and can obtain most of their water requirements from food, rain and dew.
Wild 14 years
Captive 26 years
Australia is the native home of the southern hairy nosed wombat. Here they are found in the south of the country in South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.
Southern hairy nosed wombats make their home in semi-arid habitats including grasslands, open plains, shrublands, savanna and open woodland.
They rest in a burrow underground which is dug using their powerful limbs. These extensive tunnels may have as many as 20 entrances. When digging they use their strong jaw to remove earth and tree roots which may be in their path. Multiple wombats may live in the same burrow.
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Breeding takes place between July and December. Whether they breed is dependent on environmental conditions and during periods of drought they will not breed.
As a marsupial the southern hairy nosed wombat gives birth to an underdeveloped joey which is about the size of a jellybean and has no fur. This joey climbs its way up to the pouch where it will develop for the next few months. It will attach to one of two teats and begin to drink milk.
Following a successful mating the female will give birth after a 21 day gestation period. A single joey is most common though twins have been observed.
The pouch is a rear opening to prevent sand entering it while the female is digging.
By 10 months old the joey is large enough to leave the pouch. They may continue to suckle by putting their head in the pouch. Once the joey is completely weaned the female will mate again.
They typically become independent between 1.5 and 2 years old.
Sexual maturity is reached at 3 years old.
Wombats are very good diggers.
The southern hairy nosed wombat is active by night when they will emerge to feed. Their teeth grow throughout their life and they must feed regularly to help wear them down.
Multiple animals may share a burrow but when feeding they are typically solitary.
Southern hairy nosed wombats are incredibly fast capable of reaching speeds up to 40km/h (24.9mph).
Predators and Threats
Introduced species such as rabbits, cows, sheep and goats present a threat through competing for food.
When threatened by a predator they will retreat to their burrow. If the predator follows them in to this den they can press the predator against the roof of the burrow using a hard plate on their back.
Humans threaten them through habitat destruction and vehicle strikes. In some parts of their range they are viewed as an agricultural pest and farmers may shoot them.
Wombats are well-known for their cube-shaped feces.
The closest living relative of the wombat is the tree dwelling koala.
During bushfires a number of animals may enter wombat burrows where they are protected from the flames.
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