Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat

Lasiorhinus latifrons

See them at the Zoo

Quick Facts
Weight: 42 to 84 pounds
Wild diet: Green grasses, particularly fresh shoots, as well as roots, bark and fungi
Zoo Diet: High-fiber apple-flavored monkey chow, sweet potatoes, bananas, carrots, peanuts, hay, herbivore pellets, and leaf-eater biscuits
Distribution: Southern South Australia and southeastern Western Australia
Habitat: Arid to semi-arid savannah woodlands, grasslands, and extensive plains with low shrubs

Underground Down Under

Wombats are nocturnal (active at night). They construct a complex tunnel system comprised of a large number of separate burrows that join together to form a warren at the center of their home range. Although wombats are basically solitary creatures, they have highly stable social relationships with other warren residents. The close-quarter interaction is minimal: each individual has its own burrow and feeding area. Wombats are quadrupeds (move on four legs) and can run as fast as 25 mph for short distances. They have three gaits: a walk, a trot, and a bound. When wombats are sleeping, they tend to lay on their back with their legs splayed open. This is probably related to thermoregulation (slowing their metabolism).

Description

Wombats' soft fur is gray or brown with white around the nose. They have a thick, heavy body; small eyes; and a wide, flattened head. Their short, powerful legs have strong claws. Wombats' teeth are rootless and grow continuously. They also have a pouch that opens to the rear (uncommon, but not unique to wombats).

Status in the Wild

Wombat populations have declined for a number of reasons, such as the introduction of rabbits that compete with them for food. However, humans are the worst enemy of southern hairy-nosed wombats. Wombats are still hunted as pests, but this is not as significant a threat as sarcoptic mange (carried by mites) and prolonged drought, according to the IUCN.

Conservation Programs

Listed as of “least concern" on the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) -- although it is listed as "endangered" in New South Wales. However, the IUCN Red List lists the northern hairy-nosed wombat as "critically endangered."


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