The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat is one of three species of wombat, it can grow to a length of 75-100cm with a height of 25-35cm and can weigh as much as 32kg. Don't let appearance fool you, these guys are very alert and when disturbed are capable of reaching speeds of 40km an hour. Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats are generally solitary creatures, however they live in complex tunnel systems which are known to hold between 5 and 10 wombats, generally not all individuals are present at the same time. The extensive burrows have clustered entrances which form a warren with smaller burrows attached. Burrows are connected by a network of trails which often lead to rubbing posts and wallows. Within the burrows the wombats rely on their excellent olfactory sense to communicate and entrances are often marked with urine, faeces and scratch markings. Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats use their burrow systems to beat the harsh heat of the day and can conserve energy while in a burrow by maintaining a low body temperature and slowing its breathing and heart rate. A tunnel system can have a radius of 100-150m and a Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat usually has a home range of 6-10 acres depending on the quality of the pasture.
The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat inhabits arid and semi arid inland regions as well as grassy plains, savannahs and open woodland in the Southern Coastal Region of South Australia and the South Eastern corner of Western Australia. It formerly inhabited the South West portion of Queensland, however it is now extinct there. Today, the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat is listed as an endangered species and populations are fragmented where it does exist.
The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat is a herbivore and a grazer, preferring young tender grasses. In addition to grasses it is also known to eat herbs, roots, shrubs, barks, mosses and underground roots and tubers. Its diet is low in protein and high in fibre and therefore must conserve energy with a low metabolism. The wombat has a more efficient digestive system than other grazing animals such as the kangaroo or cattle.
The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat usually gives birth to a single joey which at birth is hairless and weighs around 2 grams. It crawls into the pouch and attaches itself to one of two teats which swells around the joey's mouth to prevent it falling out of the backward facing pouch. The joey will make its first appearance out of the pouch between 8 and 9 months when it starts eating solid foods, but it will stay with its Mum until the age of 2 and will reach sexual maturity at age 3. The mating season of the wombat is between September and December. In the wild, the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat is thought to have a short life of between 10 and 12 years, however research shows they are capable of living to 20. The oldest recorded Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat is in captivity and was 30 in 2005.
Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat Profiles
Laura is the oldest of the Southerns and probably has the greatest personality of them all. She has a very inquisitive nature both towards people and everyday objects and spends most of her days exploring every nook and cranny of her enclosure. Another of Laura's favourite pastimes is digging, which often explains the red earth colour throughout her fur. Just one look into those dark and dreamy eyes will usually spell out the mischief she has been up to.
Laura may be the oldest of the group but Meg tips the scales as the heaviest! Boy does this girl love her food. Whether she is tucking into some grass or one of her favourite treats, Meg always makes sure she devours every last piece. But don't think she's overweight, for Meg the majority of her size comes from her muscles that have built up from digging. Meg has the ability to dig through anything and has even been known to dig underneath the foundations of her enclosure! You can always be sure she'll re-surface at dinner time though!