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What ‘Chu Know ‘Bout Wombats?

If you don't really know much about wombats, you aren't alone. In fact, there's not much information on them compared with other animals. Still, they're darn cute and there's no real reason for us to know more about kangaroos or koalas than wombats. With this in mind, here's your chance to educate yourself in the wide world of wombat wonder.

Just So You Know, Wombats Aren’t Badgers


Image Via Timmy Toucan [Flickr]

But they used to be confused with them by early settlers. In fact, quite a few places named with the word ‘badger’ were actually supposed to be named for wombats. A few examples include Badger Creek, Victoria and Badger Corner Tasmania.
After a while they did start getting their due credit though. Wombat, New South Wales, asteroid 6827 Wombat and more are named (correctly) after the little marsupials.

They’re Totally Square
Or at least, their poops are. Their 14 day long digestion helps aid their survival in desert conditions by allowing them to digest every nutrient possible. Interestingly, this process allows them to create some of the most uniquely shaped feces in the animal kingdom –a perfect square.

They’re All Backwards
While most marsupials have a pouch that sits upwards, wombat’s pouches face down. The reason for this is the wombat’s need to dig extensive burrows. If they had pouches like kangaroos or koalas, their pouches and babies would be loaded with dirt -that would be a long 6 or 7 months of life for the poor babies living in the pouch.

Your Wombat Friends Are A Little Slow


Wombats aren’t keen on speed. They like to take shortcuts and have been known to bite their way through plants or farmer’s fences rather than walking around them –giving them the name “bulldozers of the bush.” When they need to get out of the way of predators though, it’s a whole different story. Scared wombats can run up to 25 miles per hour for a full minute and a half –about the same top speed of human runners.

Wombats Got Back


Image Via Timmy Toucan [Flickr]

No, I’m not talking Sir Mix-a-Lot style, of course, he still might like the furry critters. But wombats really do have a big, strong butt. In fact, it’s their main form of defense. In the wild, both dingoes and Tasmanian devils prey on the creatures. Most of a wombat’s behind is made of cartilage, making it hard for the predator to bite through when attacking from the rear.
Their other main defensive move is made by diving into a tunnel, waiting for the attacker to put their head in the hole and then thrusting up with their massive legs. This smashes the predator’s head on the roof of the tunnel.

They Were Huge Back In The Day
The Giant Wombat was a common species even when the earliest humans began to inhabit Australia. In fact, it’s believed that the aborigines actually helped cause the extinction of these giants through excessive hunting and habitat alteration. These giant wombats were the size of rhinoceroses and were the largest marsupials in the history of the world.

When Wombats Aren’t Cuddly, They’re Terribly Vicious


Image Via Feverblue [Flickr]

When held in captivity, the creatures can be made somewhat tame and even may allow park and zoo visitors to pet or hold them. On the downside, this lack of fear makes them more aggressive than their wild counterparts. As a result, a lot of people have been attacked, bit and knocked over by scared or angry wombats. One naturalist, Harry Frauca, was bitten in the leg while wearing rubber boots, trousers and thick wool socks. Despite all this protection, the wombat’s strong jaws and sharp teeth managed to leave him with a wound 2 centimeters deep.

They Adapt Well To Captivity


Image Via Shami Chatterjee [Flickr]

Other than the whole attacking people for no reason thing, they seem to love being in zoos and parks. In the wild, these guys only have a life expectancy of five years. However, as captive animals, they have been known to live past 25. That’s five times as long of a life! It's surely partially due to a lack of predators, but they also live a lot more stress-free this way, which seems to have a big effect on the little guys. We should take a tip from them.

Source #1, #2

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I have a thing for Wombats ever since I saw a picture of a grey haired lady in a blue mac smiling while hoiking a huge Wombat up before her so it faced the camera. The Wombat's expression was good humoured if slightly stuffed looking as though it got it's picture taken a lot and found it a bit boring.
I fell in love with the Wombat there and then. Then I read on Wombat sites how vicious and dangerous they were and how they scarred people for life, even experienced animal handlers. Is this all some kind of hoax? I'm wondering this because on every site I read about the deadly dangers of Wombats they are all illustrated with folks pictures of cute Wombats smiling or they're hugging Wombats or cradling them in fluffy blankets. They can't be that scary then.
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Fatso the Fat-arsed Wombat was the unoffical mascot of the the Sydney olympics. He was hated by the organising committee but loved by everyone else. He became so popular there is now an official statue of him in the olympic village.
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I'd find it quite hard to believe that these cute little ones came about by accident - especially the little feature that they have their pouches facing downwards so their little ones don't get 'buried' in dirt just being in their pouches, or their perfect square feces. Someone must have thought hard enough to create them (or any other animal for that matter) that way.
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Living in Canberra (the capital city of Australia in case you don't know the name, the reason I've included this is because some geography teachers who shall remain nameless/ignorant... teach that Sydney is the capital..) we see load of Wombats... sadly most are road kill... but I digress...

The strong back is definitely a given.. we have friends in the SES who've actually witnessed car accidents where the poor wombat is pinned under the vehicle, with the majority of the cars weight on the animal.. but when the SES managed to lift the car off the Wombat, it got up and ran off into the bush... so don't mess with a Wombat baby!
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