name = WombatsMSW3 Groves|pages=43-44]
fossil_range = Pleistocene to Recent

image_caption = Common Wombat in the snow
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
infraclassis = Marsupialia
ordo = Diprotodontia
subordo = Vombatiformes
familia = Vombatidae
familia_authority = Burnett, 1829
subdivision_ranks = Genera and Species
subdivision =
* "Vombatus"
** "Vombatus ursinus"
* "Lasiorhinus"
** "Lasiorhinus latifrons"
** "Lasiorhinus krefftii"
* †"Rhizophascolomus"
* †"Phascolonus"
* †"Warendja"
* †"Ramasayia"

Wombats are Australian marsupials; they are short-legged, muscular quadrupeds, approximately convert|1|m|in in length with a very short tail. They are found in forested, mountainous, and heathland areas of south-eastern Australia and Tasmania. The name "wombat" comes from the Eora Aboriginal community who were the original inhabitants of the Sydney area.


Wombats dig extensive burrow systems with rodent like front teeth and powerful claws. Although mainly crepuscular and nocturnal, wombats will also venture out to feed on cool or overcast days. They are not as commonly seen as many animals, but leave ample evidence of their passage, treating fences as a minor inconvenience to be gone through or under and leaving distinctive cubic scat.

Wombats are herbivores, their diet consisting mostly of grasses, sedges, herbs, bark and roots. Their incisor teeth somewhat resemble those of the placental rodents, being adapted for gnawing tough vegetation, as well as for digging tunnels. Like many other herbivorous mammals, they have a large diastema between the incisors and the cheek teeth, which are relatively simple. The dental formula of wombats is:dentition||

Dingos and Tasmanian Devils prey on wombats. Their fur colour can vary from a sandy colour to brown, or from grey to black. Each of the species is around convert|1|m|in|abbr=on in length and weighs between convert|20|and|35|kg|lb|abbr=on|lk=on.

Female wombats give birth to a single young in the spring, after a gestation period lasting 26–28 days.Fact|date=April 2008 They have a well-developed pouch, which the young leave after about 6–7 months. Wombats are weaned after 15 months, and are sexually mature at 18 months of age.cite book |editor=Macdonald, D.|author= McIlroy, John|year=1984 |title= The Encyclopedia of Mammals|publisher= Facts on File|location=New York|pages= 876-877|isbn= 0-87196-871-1]

Ecology and behaviour

Wombats have an extraordinarily slow metabolism, taking around 14 days to complete digestion, which aids their survival in arid conditions. They generally move slowly, but when threatened they can reach up to convert|40|km/h|mph|abbr=on and maintain that speed for up to 90 seconds.Fact|date=January 2008 Wombats defend home territories centred on their burrows, and react aggressively to intruders. The Common Wombat occupies a range of up to convert|23|ha|acre|abbr=on|lk=on, while the hairy-nosed species have much smaller ranges, of no more than convert|4|ha|acre|abbr=on.

When attacked, they can summon immense reserves of strength; one defence of a wombat against a predator underground is to crush it against the roof of the tunnel, thus suffocating the animal.Fact|date=January 2008 Its primary defence is its toughened rear hide with most of the posterior made of cartilage. This, combined with its lack of a meaningful tail, makes it difficult for any predator that follows the wombat into its tunnel to bite and injure its target.


Wombats, like all the larger living marsupials, are part of the Diprotodontia. The ancestors of modern wombats evolved sometime between 55 and 26 million years ago (no useful fossil record has yet been found for this period). About 11 species flourished well into the ice ages. Among the several rhinoceros-sized Giant Wombat ("Diprotodon") species was the largest marsupial to have ever lived. The earliest human inhabitants of Australia arrived while diprotodons were still common. The Aborigines are believed to have brought about their extinction through hunting, habitat alteration, or probably both.


There are three living species of wombat:

* Common Wombat ("Vombatus ursinus")
* Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat ("Lasiorhinus latifrons")
* Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat or Yaminon("Lasiorhinus krefftii") [http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Lasiorhinus_krefftii.html ; also see http://www.arkive.org/species/GES/mammals/Lasiorhinus_krefftii/more_info.html]

Wombats and humans

Wombats were often called "badgers" by early settlers because of their size and habit and localities such as Badger Creek, Victoria and Badger Corner, Tasmania were named after the wombat.Citation
last = Lady Wild Life| title = Common Wombat | url = http://ladywildlife.com/animals/commonwombat.html | accessdate = 2008-09-01

The town Wombat, New South Wales, the asteroid 6827 Wombat,a soccer team in Brisbane and the British anti-tank rifle L6 Wombat (by an awkward acronym) are named after the animal.

They can be awkwardly tamed in a captive situation, and even coaxed into being patted and held, possibly becoming quite friendly. Many parks, zoos and other tourist set-ups across Australia have wombats on public display, and they are quite popular. However, their lack of fear means that they may display acts of aggression if provoked, or if they are simply in a bad mood. Its sheer weight makes a charging wombat capable of knocking an average-sized man over, and their sharp teeth and powerful jaws can result in severe wounds. The naturalist Harry Frauca once received a bite convert|2|cm|in|abbr=on deep into the flesh of his leg—through a rubber boot, trousers and thick woollen socks (Underhill, 1993).

When wombats are kept illegally as pets by people living in rural areas, they can often become a danger to humans. Once the wombat becomes confident in human company, it may lose its fear of humans altogether. This may result in the wombat approaching and attacking a person, which has happened several times in past yearswhen. Currentlywhen, in central New South Wales, a wombat that once belonged to an elderly woman who passed away is becoming a serious danger to people, as it regularly attacks them when they come into its territory. [ [http://www.marsupialsociety.org/members/01wi05.html Keeping Marsupials : Keeping and Breeding Marsupials in Captivity, Maintaining Injured and Orphaned Wildlife in Captivity, Animal Husbandry, Australian Marsupials, Australian ... ] ]


Further reading

*"The Death of a Wombat", Ivan Smith, drawings by Clifton Pugh, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973, hardcover, 62 pages, ISBN 0-684-13538-8. A humble wombat meets a tragic end during a fire.
*"Wombats", Barbara Triggs, Houghton Mifflin Australia Pty, 1990, ISBN 0-86770-114-5. Facts and photographs of wombats for children.
*"The Wombat: Common Wombats in Australia", Barbara Triggs, University of New South Wales Press, 1996, ISBN 0-86840-263-X.
*"The Secret Life of Wombats", James Woodford, Text Publishing, 2002, ISBN 1-877008-43-5.
*"How to Attract the Wombat", Will Cuppy with illustrations by Ed Nofziger, David R. Godiine, 2002, ISBN 1-56792-156-6 (Originally published 1949, Rhinehart)


External links

* [http://www.premcab.sa.gov.au/emblems/wombat1.htm South Australian Government Faunal Emblem] (official website)
* [http://www.wombania.com/wombats/index.htm Wombania's Wombat Information Index]
* [http://www.wombadilliac.com.au/ Russell The Wombat's Burrow]
* [http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/publications/fauna-of-australia/pubs/volume1b/32-ind.pdf Fauna of Australia, Vombatidae by R. T. Wells]

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(Phascolomys ursinus)

Look at other dictionaries:

  • wombat — [ wɔ̃ba ] n. m. • 1803; mot angl. (1798), d une langue indigène d Australie ♦ Phascolome (marsupial). ● wombat nom masculin Gros marsupial fouisseur d Australie, herbivore et terrestre, à denture évoquant celle des rongeurs. ⇒WOMBAT, subst. masc …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • wombat — WOMBÁT s.m. Mamifer marsupial râmător din Australia, care îşi sapă adăpostul subteran. (din engl., fr. wombat) Trimis de tavi, 13.09.2007. Sursa: MDN  wombát s. m. Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa: Dicţionar ortografic …   Dicționar Român

  • Wombat — (Beutelmaus, Phascolomys Geoffr.), einzige Gattung der Familie der Beutelmäuse (Phascolomyidae) aus der Unterordnung der Wurzelfresser (Rhizophaga), nächtliche, schwerfällige, harmlose Tiere mit sehr plumpem Körper, ungeschlachtem Kopf, kurzem,… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Wombat — (Phascolŏmys), eine Familie bildende Gattg. der pflanzenfressenden Beuteltiere, von plumpem Körperbau und schweinsähnlichem Äußern. Bezahnung der der Nagetiere ähnlich; Füße fünfzehig, stark bekrallt, Schwanz rudimentär, warzenförmig.… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Wombat — Wom bat, n. [From the native name, womback, wombach, in Australia.] (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of three species of Australian burrowing marsupials of the genus {Phascolomys}, especially the common species ({Phascolomys ursinus}). They are nocturnal in… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Wombat — Wombat, so v.w. Phascolomys …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Wombat — Wombat, Säugethier aus der Ordnung der Beutelthiere, von der Größe des Dachses, ohne Schwanz, plump und äußerst träg, dabei von außerordentlich sanftem Wesen. Es lebt in Höhlen in Neuholland, pflanzt sich aber auch bei uns leicht fort. Fleisch… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • wombat — marsupial mammal of Australia, 1798, from aboriginal Australian womback, wombar …   Etymology dictionary

  • wombat — ► NOUN ▪ a burrowing plant eating Australian marsupial which resembles a small bear with short legs. ORIGIN from an extinct Aboriginal language …   English terms dictionary

  • wombat — [wäm′bat΄] n. [altered < Austral native name] any of a family (Vombatidae) of burrowing marsupials resembling small bears, found in Australia, Tasmania, and several Pacific islands …   English World dictionary

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