Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat

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Taxonomy

FamilyVombatidaewombatssturdy body, powerful limbs for burrowing
GenusLasiorhinusHairy-nosed wombatslarge square nose covered with fine hair
SpecieslatifronsSouthern Hairy-nosed wombat
Nearest RelativesL. krefftii
Vombatus ursinus
Northern Hairy-nosed wombat
Common Wombat

Distribution

  • a few small areas in South Australia mainly on the Nullabor Plain
  • used to be occur from the Murray River in South Australia across to south-east Western Australia

Burrows

  • a network of extensive tunnels with up to 20 entrances shared by a number (10) wombats developed over generations of wombats
  • any wombat may use a number of different burrows
  • one of the largest animals to construct burrows; can excavate up to 2m of tunnel a night

Competition

  • suffers in competition for food and burrowing areas with rabbits and with farmers and graziers

Appearance

  • sturdy body, flattened head and rump, short powerful legs with broad paws
  • pouch faces backwards so young don’t get a face full of dirt when mother is digging
  • teeth have no roots; they keep growing and are continually worn down by eating
  • very strong; if pursued into a burrow by a dog or fox, a wombat will lift its rump and crush the attacker’s skull against the roof of the burrow

Lifestyle

  • territorial but home ranges may overlap
  • solitary – don’t form social groups
  • share burrows, rubbing posts, feeding areas
  • spend the day in the burrow except on overcast days or during cold winters – this helps to conserve water and energy
  • spend two-thirds of their lives asleep in the burrow
  • can run 40km/hr over short distances
  • live up to 25 years

Senses

  • alert to slightest sound or unusual scent

Status

  • common but restricted distribution
  • often considered a pest by farmers due to their destruction of fences designed to keep out kangaroos, rabbits, and dingoes/wild dogs

Feeding

  • grazing animals eating grasses
  • cover 1-4 km per night over a 5-20 ha plot

Reproduction

  • births occur September to December after a gestation period of 30 days
  • young leave the pouch at 10 months of age but stay with the mother for several months after leaving the pouch at least until weaned at 12 months
  • sexually mature by 2-3 years

References – books

  • Australia’s Amazing Wildlife, 1985. Bay Books, Kensington NSW.
  • Australian Geographic Wildlife Special Edition, Australian Geographic, Terrey Hills.
  • Complete Book Of Australian Mammals, R Strahan (ed), 1983. Angus & Robertson Publishers, London.
  • Encyclopedia of Australian Wildlife, Reader’s Digest Australia Pty Ltd, 1997. Reader’s Digest (Australia) Pty Ltd, Surrey Hills.
  • Wildlife Conservation, HJ Frith, 1979. Angus & Robertson, London.

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