Wombats seem like cuddly loveable teddy bears on the outside, but they hold some very interesting facts in the animal kingdom. This is where we list the 20 most awesome facts about wombats.
Despite their cute appearance, you’ll see that wombats are perhaps not as cute as they look. And they do have some unusual features and characteristics that we’ll get into.
Facts about wombats
Read on, or watch the video below from the Ranger Planet Youtube Channel which highlights the top 10 facts about wombats.
1. Giant Wombats used to roam Australia
Today’s wombat is much smaller than their ancestors. Diprotodons were huge marsupials that roamed Australia in herds around the time of the Ice Age.
They grew to a height of 6 feet (1.8 meters) and weighed up to a whopping 3 tons. The equivalent to a rhinoceros.
In fact, ancient Aborigines are believed to have hunted them for their meat and fur.
2. The worlds oldest Wombat
Patrick, a wombat in Ballarat Wildlife Park in Southeastern Australia, is the world’s oldest wombat. He was a grand old age of 32 years when he died.
Patrick was also one of the biggest recorded wombats, weighing in at a huge 88 pounds.
3. Wombats poop is shaped into cubes
One of the amazing facts about wombats is actually their poop!
Their poo is cube-shaped. This is intentional and is designed that way to prevent it from rolling away from its marked territory around trees and rocks.
They have a unique bone structure in their backsides that enables them to form the poop into shape.
4. They defend with their rear end
A wombat’s behind is actually their main form of defense when predators approach. As they dive down into their burrows to take cover, wombats use their large behinds to block off the entrance.
A wombat’s rear end mainly consists of cartilage and has no significant tail. So it’s a natural shield for resisting predator bites and scratches.
They can also be quite aggressive around their territory. Injuries to people from wombat attacks have been reported, including claw wounds, deep bites, and people being bowled over by a wombat charging at them.
5. Wombats teeth do not stop growing
Much like a rodent’s teeth, a Wombat’s set of teeth never stops growing. This prevents them from grinding down from continuously chewing on grasses, shrubs, roots, and vegetables.
In fact, they grow so fast that in order to keep their incisors down to a suitable length, they gnaw on bark and tough vegetation.
6. A group of wombats is called a “Wisdom”
Animal collective nouns are always interesting, like a “gaggle of geese”, or our favorite, a “bloom of ladybugs”.
A group of wombats together is known as a “Wisdom of wombats”. But this is rare, as we’ll discover later. Alternative names for a group of wombats include a “mob” or “colony” of wombats.
7. The heaviest wombat recorded
The same as Patrick, the oldest Wombat, heavy bare-nosed wombats of weights up to 88 lb, (or 40kg) have been recorded. By comparison, that’s the same as your average wallaby!
8. Wombats can run pretty fast!
Wombats waddle when they walk, so you might think they’re slow creatures. But you’ll understand why a charging wombat may hurt when you discover they can run fast for their size and weight.
An adult wombat usually grows to about a meter long. A wombat at full pace can hit speeds of 25mph, (or 40kmph) and maintain that speed for around 90 seconds.
9. Wombats work alone
The reason you’ll rarely see a “wisdom of wombats” is that they’re mostly solitary animals.
Wombats are pretty shy creatures. They have been known to live together, but usually only via connected burrows.
The male northern hairy-nosed wombats mostly live alone, but females have been known to group together and share an underground burrow for added security. However, they still go about their business on their own.
10. Wombats appear in ancient artwork.
One rare occurrence of wombats depicted in ancient aboriginal artwork appears in Australia’s Wollemi National Park. The wombat in the drawings is believed to date from around 4000 years ago.
To give this some perspective, the wombat drawing was created around the beginning of the bronze age.
11. Closely related to Koala Bears!
The closest living relative to the Wombat is actually the Koala Bear.
Even though Koalas physically are compared more to bears, pigs, and even guinea pigs. One main fact about wombats is that both wombats and koala bears have backward-facing pouches.
12. Wombats have a slow metabolism.
Because wombats eat grass, they need to extract as much nutrient from it as possible. For this reason, they undertake a long food processing and digestion period. It can take 3-6 days for them to fully digest a meal.
We explained more on this in our article on what wombats eat.
13. Wombats are the second largest marsupial
The largest-ever marsupial was the Diprotodon – which was a former ancestor of the wombat. The largest current living marsupial is the Kangaroo. Wombats are the second largest.
Similar to the koala, wombats as marsupials, are part of a particular section of mammals in the animal kingdom. This cohort has pouches where their newborn young (known as joeys) remain after birth until they are sufficiently developed.
The pouch forms a safe place for wombat babies to grow and develop, as they are very small and helpless when they are firstborn.
14. There are three species of wombat
The three species are the Bare-Nosed Wombat (Vombatus Ursinus), the Southern Hairy-nosed (Lasiorhinus latifrons), and the Northern Hairy Nosed (Lasiorhinus krefftii).
All three wombat species live in Australia and Tasmania. Their habitats include mountainous regions, forests, and grasslands.
15. Critically endangered
There are currently only around 115 Northern hairy-nosed wombats left in the world.
In the 1980s this was at an all-time low of around 35 Northern hairy-nosed wombats. So conservationists are succeeding in reversing this wombat decline.
Food shortages and long droughts have driven this species away from their native and historic habitats. They are now found in two small locations in Queensland, Australia.
Of the three wombat species, the Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat is currently on the endangered animals’ list.
16. Wombats evolved to dig
Their strong feet, with long claws, plus their barrel-shaped body have evolved to enable them to move away from roaming around Australia as large creatures.
They’ve evolved to excavating intricate tunnel systems with multiple chambers, entrances, and escape routes. A wombat is capable of shifting three cubic feet of dirt in one day.
17. Wombat burrows are really long
During bushfires, wombat burrows become places of shelter for many other animals
Wombat burrows are continuously being built by their owners into a long, complex network of tunnels and warrens.
Often these burrows contain numerous entrances and escape routes. Sometimes these tunnels can extend as long as 650 feet (200 meters) as a combined distance.
Animals of all types, from rock wallabies to skinks have been known to use wombat tunnels and entrances to shelter in a cool underground space during times of bush fires.
Facing a potentially angry wombat is preferable to facing the heat and chaos above ground during a raging fire, or when being chased by a vicious predator. Perhaps something like an Australian Wolf!
18. Wombats are considered nocturnal
Animals are active at different times of the day and night, and some animals don’t sleep at all.
Wombats can sometimes be seen during the day and can be crepuscular when in a safe environment.
But wombats mostly prefer to forage for food at night where, as herbivores, they spend most of their time foraging for specific types of grasses. This is to limit the loss of water during hot days and to avoid predators.
They can feed between 3-8 hours per night, and spend the rest of the time digging new or more tunnels and improving tunnel chambers, entrances, and exits.
During the day, they are mostly in the depths of their burrows, unless the need arises to warm up under occasional winter sunshine during colder seasons.
19. They have a rear-facing pouch.
Like most marsupials, wombats carry their young (often called a joey) in a front pouch. The young climb into the pouch shortly after birth and remain there till they are developed enough to emerge into the world.
However, like Koalas, and unlike kangaroos, the wombat pouch is rear-facing rather than front-facing.
As the wombat moves on all fours anyway, this is therefore still a safe angle for their young, but
give birth to a tiny, underdeveloped baby that crawls into its mother’s pouch to grow and develop further. But wombats’ pouches have a special difference — they are positioned backward, opening toward the mother’s rear rather than her head. This allows her to dig without getting dirt in her pouch
20. The wombat was an unofficial Olympic mascot
During the Sydney Olympics in the summer of 2000, a cartoon kookaburra, platypus, and echidna were selected to represent the event as its official mascots.
However, there was another unofficial mascot, which was “Fatso-the Fat-Ars.ed-Wombat.”
The character was originally meant to be an anti-character representing the commercialization of Olympic mascots
Fatso eventually gained more popularity among fans than the official mascots, even defying the Olympic Committees’ attempts to ban the cartoon wombat.
A statue of Fatso was actually erected outside Sydney’s Stadium after the games, but was stolen a few months later, presumably by some avid fans!
Facts about wombats – more animal facts!
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