What is a Wombat

There are three species of wombat.

The Northern Hairy Nosed wombat which only occurs in Queensland and is very rare, only about 200 left.  The Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat which only occurs in South Australia and is considered a threatened Species.  The Bare Nosed Wombat which occurs in NSW; Victoria and Tasmania, is the most abundant of the three wombats but still in decline due to disease, road kill and habitat destruction.



Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat (Queensland) endangered

© Australian Geographic Society




Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat  (South Australia) threatened

© Australian Geographic Society




Bare Nosed Wombat (New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania)

  © Australian Geographic Society




Bare Nosed Wombats are usually grey or brown but can vary from black to almost white.  They grow to about one metre long, 250 cm high and can weight about 30kg. The biggest wombat was about 40 kg.

Wombats are often seen as cute chubby little animals.  They are marsupial mammals which means they carry their young in a pouch and babies known as joeys feed by sucking on teats.  They have very short tails rarely more than 2cm long.

They are often seen alone at night and are considered by many as solitary, but wombats do communicate with each other and become very distressed if other wombats are not around.  They are considered to be the most intelligent of Australia’s native animals.

Wombats live in burrows like badgers and rabbits.  For this reason they were often referred to as badgers by early settlers and gave their name to locations like Badgery Creek.  They use their sharp front claws to dig burrows which can be up to 30m long and 2m below ground. They use their back claws to push the dirt out of the burrow.  They use their burrows to sleep during the day and keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Burrows are also a refuge from predators such as dogs and foxes.  Burrows can remain in use for many generations, the joeys taking over the burrow from the parent. Bare Nosed Wombat’s burrows only have one entrance/exit, and do not create warrens as do their hairy nosed wombats cousins.

diagram: shows a typical wombat burrow with corridors and sleeping chamber

Bare Nosed Wombats eat plants such as grasses with occasional roots and bark.  They use their claws to dig up roots and also hold clumps of grass as they eat.  Since native grass are often very tough wombats have strong continuously growing teeth, like rats and mice.  They eat at night and can spend up to eight hours grazing.

Wombats give birth after 30 days gestation to a joey that weighs only 5gram. The joey crawls into the pouch and stays there for the next 6 months. A new born baby is bare skinned and blind and is often referred to as a pinky. Babies feeds on milk from a teat in the pouch. When they start leaving the pouch they learn to feed on grasses. Joey may continue to drink milk from the mothers pouch for another 12 months.   While joeys are at heal they are learning about their local geography of territory from Mum.  A joey usually stays with its mother until it’s about 18 months old and weighs about 15kg.