Wombats

The wombat is a nocturnal marsupial. It has a pouch which faces backward so no dirt gets in when it is burrowing. Wombats are closely related to the koala.

Wombats normally live for ten to fifteen years in the wild. In captivity they have been known to live up to twenty years.

Common Wombat

The Common Wombat has coarse, stiff grey/brown fur and a hair-free muzzle. Often their true colour is hidden by the dirt or clay in which they have been digging. It has small rounded ears, small eyes, a broad, flattened head with a short muscular neck.
There is one incisor tooth on each side of both upper and lower jaws. Its teeth are rootless, they keep growing, so even when older they are still able to finely grind their food.

Their large, heavy bodies average 1 metre in length, the tail, which is hidden in their fur, is only a couple of centimetres long. They can weigh up to 40 kg, although 30 kg is more common.

The rump of the wombat has a very tough, thick skin. If threatened, a wombat will dive into a nearby burrow or hollow log and use its rump in self-defence for trapping and crushing intruders in their burrows. They are strong burrowers, their short powerful legs have large strong, sharp claws that can dig rapidly.

They are usually silent but males can growl when confronted, whilst females and young communicate with short hissing sounds. Despite their docile appearance wombats are quite alert and if in danger they can deliver a crushing bite.

Wombats have a keen sense of hearing and smell and whilst they can appear sluggish, they can run at speeds of up to 40km/hr over short distances when alarmed. Wombats are solitary except when mating. Although they will share burrows, they are possessive about their particular feeding grounds. Their presence is often spotted in the form of distinctive square droppings (scats), used to mark its territory on logs and rocks. 

What is a wombat?

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Wombat in towel
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Information for Rescuers

CAUTION: When handling all wombats, including joeys, and treat all wombats as itf they have mange.

  • Use a barrier technique – wear gloves, don’t hold the wombat against the body without a plastic sheet between you and the wombat and the joey in the pouch. Don’t be tempted to put a joey down inside your shirt to keep it wrm – this is a very effective way to catch mange.
  • ALL wombats with mange should come into care so they can receive treatment to ensure that the disease does not spread more,
  • Keep the wombat cool. Wombats are nocturnal, burrowing animals – they do not tolerate temperatures above 28 o C. Under no circumstances should they ever be left in the hot sun or in a hot car.

Joey Wombats

  • Place the joey in a secure environment – e.g. a pillowcase or wrap in a towel
  • Check if it has fur and if it feels cold to touch. If it is cold or has no fur, place a bottle filled with warm water or a hot water bottle, filled with hot tap water only. Wrap the bottle in a cloth, next to, never underneath the joey.

For more information and help phone: Cedar Creek Wombat Hospital, Roz & Kevin Holme 0429 482551

Most common reasons for rescues

  1. Most rescues involve being hit by cars.
  2. Other calls are about injured wombats from dogs attacks and shooters.
  3. Bushfires and floods have a major impact on these animals.
  4. Wombats are suffering from the terrible disease of mange

Threats

The introduction of the rabbit and excessive clearing for livestock and agriculture has had a devastating effect on numbers. Today wombats continue to be trapped, shot and baited by farmers who consider them to be pests because they can burrow under fences and dig in cultivated fields and pastures and also their burrows can harbour rabbits.

Occasionally wombats fall victim to road accidents and orphaned wombats, found in their mother’s pouch, are brought into Hunter Wildlife carers every year. These baby wombats need extensive specialised veterinary care, including being bottle fed every four hours.

Natural Food

Mostly nocturnal, wombats usually come out at night for between 3 to 8 hours to graze. In colder periods they may sometimes be seen during the day either grazing or basking in the sun. They are herbivorous, feeding on native plants and roots, bark and grasses. This causes its teeth to wear away rapidly but its teeth continue to grow throughout its life.

Wombats Are Not Pets

This video is about wombats and the problems caused by members of the public trying to make wombats into pets. Roz Holme is a carer and has established Cedar Creek Rescue Hospital for wombats. This video contains excellent information about the problems associated with members of the public taking wombats in to have as a pet. It is worth a look to find out a little bit more about wombats.

Wombats are not pets