Interesting Facts About Wombats: Champion Diggers

Wombats are short-legged, muscular marsupials native to Australia. They are mainly nocturnal, emerging at night to feed on grasses, herbs, bark, and roots.
They can be found in southeastern coastal regions of Australia and on the surrounding islands. Wombats prefer wet and forested areas on the slopes, open grasslands and eucalyptus forests. All wombat species are divided in two groups: bare-nosed and hairy-nosed wombat.
Wombats are considered as pests in certain parts of Australia because they damage crops and protective fences. Farmers do not hesitate to kill them to protect their lands. Other threat to survival of wombats is habitat loss. These factors brought Northern hairy-nosed wombat to the edge of extinction.
There are three species of wombat: the common wombat is the most numerous and widespread and has a bare nose. The northern hairy-nosed wombat and the southern hairy-nosed wombat are distinguished by their hairy noses, softer fur, and larger ears.
Wombats grow to about 40 inches long and can weigh between 44 and 77 pounds. They’re unusual, even for marsupials. Here are 15 interesting facts about wombats. Read on to learn what makes these cute, pudgy critters so special.
1. They’re champion diggers. Wombats are built for digging. Their barrel-shaped bodies and wide, strong feet with long claws enable them to excavate extensive systems of tunnels and chambers. A wombat can move up to three feet of dirt in a single day.
2. The world’s oldest wombat recently celebrated his 29th birthday. Patrick the wombat, who makes his home at Ballarat Wildlife Park in southeastern Australia, turned 29 last year, making him the oldest known wombat. He’s also one of the biggest, weighing in at 88 pounds.
3. They have cube-shaped poop. Wombat poop is square. They mark their territories by defecating, and it’s thought that the shape of their poop keeps it from rolling away. Special bones in their backsides allow them to squeeze and form their feces into cubes.
4. Wombats have tough rumps. One of the wombat’s primary defenses is its toughened backside, which is mostly made of cartilage. When threatened, a wombat dives headfirst into a tunnel, blocking the entrance with its rump. This sturdy rump, and lack of a significant tail, make it difficult for a predator to grab on.
5. They have a backwards-facing pouch. Like other marsupials, wombats 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 backwards, opening toward the mother’s rear rather than her head. This allows her to dig without getting dirt in her pouch.
6. Wombats walk with a waddle. Although they look pudgy and slow, wombats can run up to 25 miles per hour and maintain that speed for a minute and a half.
7. They’re not as helpless as they look. Wombats defend home territories around their burrows and can become aggressive to intruders. There are reports of human injuries from wombat attacks, including puncture wounds from their claws, deep bites, and injuries from being bowled over by charging wombats.
8. They have teeth like rodents. Wombat incisors, like those of rodents, are continuously growing. To keep them in check, wombats gnaw on bark and tough vegetation.
9. Wombats are second largest marsupials in Australia. They can reach up to 45 inches in length and up to 80 pounds in weight. Females are slightly bigger than males.
12. Wombats are territorial and solitary animals. They spray urine, rub their scent on the nearby trees and use droppings to mark their territory. Burrows provide protection against the heat and predators. Wombats are rarely seen in the wild because they spend entire day in their burrows.
13. Plant diet leads to wearing of the teeth. Because of that, their teeth grow constantly during their whole life.
14. Pregnancy lasts 20 to 30 days. Poorly developed baby (called joey) crawls to the mother’s pouch after birth, to continue its development. It attaches to the teat that provides milk required for further growth. Baby spends first five months in the mother’s pouch.
15. Wombats have a very slow metabolism. Food takes around two weeks to be completely digested. This allows the wombats to survive in challenging, arid environments.

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