Wombat

Wombat

This large, pudgy herbivore mammal is a marsupial, or pouched animal, found in Australia and on scattered islands nearby. Like other marsupials, wombats give birth to tiny, undeveloped young that crawl into pouches on their mothers’ bellies. A vombatus ursinus baby remains in its mother’s pouch for about five months before emerging. Even after it leaves the pouch, the young animal will frequently crawl back in to nurse or to escape danger. By about seven months of age, a young wombat can care for itself. Wombats grow to between 28 to 47 inches and weigh in at between 32 to 80 lbs. They use their claws to dig burrows in open grasslands and eucalyptus forests, and live in these burrows, which can become extensive tunnel-and-chamber complexes. Common wombats are solitary and inhabit their own burrows, while other species may be more social and live together in larger burrow groups called colonies. Wombats are nocturnal and emerge to feed at night on grasses, roots, and bark. They have rodent-like incisors that never stop growing and are gnawed down on some of their tougher vegetarian fare. The field and pasture damage caused by wombat burrowing can be a destructive nuisance to ranchers and farmers. Wombats have been hunted for this behaviour, as well as for their fur and simply for sport. Space for all wombats is at a premium as farm and ranch lands increasingly replace natural space. Credit: National Geographic.