Common Wombat (Vombatus ursinus)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Diprotodontia
Family:    Vombatidae
Size:    Length: 2.5 to 3.5 feet (76 to 106 cm)
Weight: 33 to 90 pounds (15 to 40 kg)
Diet: Grass, bark and roots 
Distribution: Australia
Young:  1 young per year
Animal Predators:  Dingoes, feral and domestic dogs and Tasmanian devils
IUCN Status: Vulnerable
Terms: No special terms
Lifespan: Average in the wild is 5 years and up to 26 years in captivity



·       Wombats are the largest burrowing mammals in the world.

·       The common wombat is featured on an Australian 95-cent stamp.

·       It is also known as the “coarse-haired wombat.”

·       Early Australian settlers called the wombat a “badger,” but it looks more like a small bear.

·       The wombat’s closest relative is the koala.

·       Like rodents, wombats have rootless teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives.

·       The palm of a wombat’s paw resembles a human hand, but with shorter fingers and a shorter thumb.



Wombats are medium-sized, bear-like marsupials with very short, strong legs. Their fur is coarse and comes in a variety of colours, including black, brown, beige and grey. They have a large, blunt head; small eyes and ears; a large, bare nose; and long, sharp claws used for digging. They also have a bony plate in their rump that acts as a defensive shield if they are chased down their burrow by a predator.  



Common wombats live mainly in the coastal areas of Australia, as well as on the island of Tasmania, where they are plentiful due to the lack of dingoes, their major predator. They are also found on Flinders Island. Wombats enjoy humid climates with a combination of forest and grasslands and build their burrows in slopes, banks or hillsides. Each wombat may have up to 10 burrows within its home range.


Feeding Habits

Their long claws help them to dig and to tear up the grass, bark and roots that they eat, and their sharp teeth cut through roots when digging.



The pouch of the female is located at her rear, allowing her to dig without getting her baby dirty. Within the pouch are two teats, and although a wombat usually only has one offspring at a time, twins have been known to occur occasionally. Spring is the favoured mating season, although mating can take place year round. The pregnancy lasts 20 to 33 days and the newborn, measuring less than one inch (2.5 cm), makes its way into the pouch using its strong forepaws. The youngster is carried within the pouch for two-and-a-half months and after that time will begin to leave the pouch for short periods. Baby wombats are very playful and love to “play bite” their mothers. By six to seven months, the baby leaves the pouch for good, although it may not be fully weaned until it is 11 months old. The young wombat will stay with its mother for eight to 10 more months before becoming independent. 



Wombats are solitary marsupials that usually live alone in burrows where they go to escape predators, or to sleep during the day, especially during warm weather. During cooler weather, they sometimes emerge during daylight hours to feed or to bask in the sunshine. Wombats spend about two-thirds of their life in their extensive burrows, which may be up to 22 yards (20 m) long. Wombats have poor eyesight, but a very good sense of smell. They leave cube-shaped droppings, which give off their own particular scent, all over their home range to act as signposts to other wombats. Some wombats can be quite sociable and have been known to visit each other in their burrows. Although they have short legs, wombats can run at speeds of up to 25 miles (40 km) per hour.



Common wombats are protected in Australia, with the exception of eastern Victoria and are considered vulnerable.



Common Wombat Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US