Australian wombat juvenile (Vombatus ursinus). By Robyn Butler |
Australian wombat juvenile (Vombatus ursinus). By Robyn Butler |

About common wombats.

Wombats dig their burrows using their powerful claws and sharp rodent-like front teeth. They build large warrens of tunnels underground.

Their mating habits are interesting. When the female is in heat, the male pursues her forming circles around her until she is tired. Then the male rolls her onto her side and mounts her. Then she tries to escape and the chasing behavior starts again for around 30 minutes.

As with all marsupials, female wombats have a pouch in which they protect their offspring until they are fully developed. In the case of the wombat, this period lasts 6 months, and the pouch entrance faces backwards rather than towards the female’s head, so they can keep digging for a large part of the day.

They have a very slow metabolism, it takes them around 14 days to complete digestion. This characteristic also makes them one of the longest-lived marsupials.

Even though wombats are not an endangered species, they are included on the list of protected species in Australia, along with the other two subspecies of this animal (both critically endangered).

Their primary predators are Tasmanian devils, along with dingoes and eagles.

A relative of the modern wombat, measuring up to 3 m (around 10 ft) and weighing two tons, was the largest marsupial in Earth’s history. It existed 40,000 years ago and its name was Diprotodon.

Wombats are experts at destroying their own warrens in order to bury their predators when they try to reach them.

Wombats don’t like the heat, so they are active during the night, but they can be seen in the daytime if the sun is not too hot.

Their feces are cube shaped. Special bones and muscles around their excretory system allow them to squeeze and form them.

Despite their thick body and short legs, these animals can, if needed, run faster than humans, reaching speeds of up to 40 km/h (around 25 mp/h).

The rear portion of their body is made of cartilage and is very hard. When attacked, they block their burrow with their sturdy body, stopping the attacker from getting in.

Portrait of a common wombat. By Nicholas Toh |
Portrait of a common wombat. By Nicholas Toh |
Common WombatLeast concern
Vombatus ursinus840-1150 mm (33.1-45.3 in)
Vombatidae22-39 kg (48.5-86.0 lb)
Diprotodontia5 years approx. (Up to 30 in captivity)
Mammalia20-21 days
This species is commonGrasses, sedges and roots
They live in burrow systems in temperate forested areas, coastal scrub and heathland areas.Southeastern Australia, Tasmania and Flinders island

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Zoo portraits is a creative and educational project based on the animal kingdom and is divided into three main areas: Image, education and awareness.


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