Wombats are marsupials and can weigh up to 36 kilograms. They have a large head and a short neck. Their sharp claws and powerful legs make them great diggers. Despite their slow appearance, wombats can run up to 40km/hr. The life span of these marsupials is 15-20 years.
One unique adaptation of wombats is their backwards pouch. This means that the wombat does not get dirt in its pouch when digging, leaving wombat joeys (babies) clean and safe. The wombat shares its special backward facing pouch with its closest relative, the koala.
Wombats burrow systems can be up to 30 metres long and several metres deep, used for shelter and to escape from danger. They sleep in their burrows during the day and emerge at night to feed on native grasses, sedges and roots. They cut their food with sharp front teeth, which grow continuously.
The northern hairy-nosed wombat was found across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland as recently as 100 years ago, but is now restricted to a 3km² range within the Epping Forest National Park in Queensland. It is one of the rarest marsupials in the world and is critically endangered.
Southern hairy-nosed wombat
Wombats are marsupials which means females give birth to underdeveloped young (joeys). Joeys climb into the mother’s pouch, where they attach to a teat and drink milk. Wombat pouches face backwards so that their pouches do not fill with dirt when they are digging. Joeys leave the pouch around 10 months of age.
With their powerful limbs and shovel-like feet, wombats are excellent diggers. Their burrows usually consist of extensive tunnels with up to 20 entrances. Wombats can crush intruding predators against the ceiling of their burrows with their flat, boney bottoms.
The hairy-nosed wombats are distinguished from common wombats by their soft grey-brown fur and their large square noses. They also have longer ears. The southern hairy-nosed wombat is the smallest of all three wombat species.
The southern hairy-nosed wombat is related to the critically endangered northern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii). There are two colonies of northern hairy-nosed wombats in Queensland; Epping Forest National Park and a successful relocation colony in St. George.