Thursday, May 11, 2017

Wombat Day!

Today is World Hairy-Nosed Wombat Day! So I present to you, Wombats, A primer!


They are the BEST!

Some fun facts: Wombats are marsupials! But unlike most marsupials, wombats pouch opens in the back. (more on that in a sec). For the moment, click this link to see hilarious pics of baby wombats in their pouches framed by their mama’s bums:

Speaking of babies: Wombats are pregnant for less than a month! 20-21 days (they have really won that game). Joeys are born at around 2 grams, and as with most marsupials, are VERY underdeveloped. Thus the pouch. They are born hairless, blind, and hearing-less (oh, or deaf, that word is deaf). The sniffer works though, and that gets them through for a while. After birth, they wonder into Mama’s pouch, where they find a nipple and start eating. Mama’s nipple swells, and sorta locks it into babies mouth. This keeps them fed AND keeps them in Mama’s pouch. Once there, they develop for another 4-10 months, depending on the joey, but normally about 8 months. They are fully weaned around 11-15 months. Wombats stay with their mother’s for about two years, before being fully grown and ready to move on. The average life span of a Wombat is around 5 years, though there are tales of wombats up to 30 years old. (And Patrick the Wombat, who was the world’s oldest wombat who living wombat, died April 18 at 32 years old).

There are three kinds of wombats:

The hairy nosed wombat has a snout like a pig or a bat. ( ) They are separated into the Northern Hairy Nose and the Southern Hairy nose. The Northern Hairy Nose wombat is an endangered species – with only around 200 left in the wild. (more info on that here ) The Northern Hairy Nose is the largest of the species. The Southern Hairy Nose is the middle, and can still weight up to 68 lbs!

And while I do donate to place like Sleepy Burrows Wombat Sanctuary to help with the Northern Hairy Nose Wombat, they aren’t my favorite wombats.

My favorites are the Common Wombat or Bare Nosed Wombat (Pics here: ) I love them bc they are adorable and ridiculous!

Wombats are an Australian animal that has one thing in mind to do: Dig. Wombats live in burrows that they make with their strong paws (with crazy claws). Their stout and heavy body helps them dig in the ground. (Also, this digging is why their pouches are back facing. Then they can dig without filling the pouch with dirt. What a great design!) They prefer to live in forested areas with slopes because it’s easier to dig. They have up to 12 burrows in their home, with 3-4 main burrows. A main burrow can house a network of sub-tunnels and sleeping areas.

Wombats short squat body not only helps them dig, but also helps them butt things and push things around as a defense. If you've ever seen a billy goat push other goats around, it's sorta like that.

Wombats are nocturnal. (I mean, they live in dark burrows, of course they don’t like the sun – duh).

Wombats are crazy smart! They also have crazy slow metabolisms – it takes about 2 weeks for them to fully digest their food! They are designed to eat grass and roots, but are also known to steal carrots and other vegetables from humans and their gardens.

Speaking of food and digestion: one of the cooler facts about wombat is that they poop square! They use the square poop to mark their territory from other wombats. (pics here: ) As of yet, no one is really sure how their poop comes out square, with various idea poised by different scientists.

Contrary to popular belief, wombat’s are not rodents. Their closest living relative are kangaroos, wallabies, and opossums.

October 22 is officially World Wombat Day. May 11 is Hairy-Nose Wombat Day through the Wombat Foundation. ( )

Wombat even have their own comic!

One day, I will go to Australia and meet a wombat (or 12) and I will have a panic attack of joy and it will be miraculous. Until then, I visit Lily the wombat at the Houston Zoo on my b-day. The Houston Zoo is one of only 5 zoos in North America to have a wombat at all, so I feel pretty lucky to have access to one.

There are lots of adorable youtube videos on wombat, including this one of the most angry corn eating on the face of the planet:

And this one, which is just adorable wombats being adorable:

I hope you have enjoyed this primer on my favorite animals: WOMBATS! Let me know if you have any questions!

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