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The Australian Marsupials That Are More Than Just Cute


  1. Wombats produce cube-shaped poop.

  2. They have a reinforced rear end that they use as a defence against predator attacks.

  3. A group of wombats is called a “wisdom”.

  4. They can reach short-burst speeds of up to 40km/hr.

  5. The southern hairy-nosed wombat is the state fauna emblem of South Australia.


Wombats are short-legged, muscular quadrupedal marsupials of the family Vombatidae that are native to Australia. They have small eyes, short ears, and a backward-facing pouch. They are about 1 metre in length with small, stubby tails and weigh between 20 and 35 kg. They are herbivorous and mainly nocturnal, digging extensive burrow systems with their rodent-like front teeth and powerful claws.

There are three living species of wombats: the Common Wombat (Vombatus ursinus), also known as the Bare-Nosed Wombat, and the two hairy-nosed wombats (genus Lasiorhinus), the Southern hairy-nosed wombat (L. latifrons) and the Northern, or Queensland, hairy-nosed wombat (L. barnardi). The common wombat has coarse dark hair and a bald, granular nose pad. It is common in woodlands of hilly country along the Dividing Range in southeastern Australia, including Tasmania. The hairy-nosed wombats have silky fur and pointed ears, and the nose is entirely hairy, without a bald pad. The southern hairy-nosed wombat is smaller than the common wombat and lives in semiarid country mainly in South Australia. The Northern Hairy Nosed wombat is larger and very rare, with only about 60 to 80 individuals remaining in Epping Forest National Park in central Queensland.

Wombats are adaptable and habitat tolerant, and are found in forested, mountainous, and heathland areas of southern and eastern Australia, as well as an isolated patch of about 300 ha (740 acres) in Epping Forest National Park in central Queensland. They prefer areas with soft soil that is easy to dig, such as grasslands, open woodlands, coastal scrublands, and alpine meadows. They avoid areas with hard or rocky soil, dense vegetation, or extreme temperatures.

Wombats have a unique adaptation: their backward pouch. This prevents them from gathering soil in their pouch over their young when digging.

Wombats can run up to 40 km/h for short distances and have a powerful bite that can deter predators such as dingoes, foxes, and dogs. They can also use their strong hind legs to kick or crush attackers against the roof of their burrows.

Wombats are considered pests by farmers because they dig in cultivated fields and pastures and because their burrows may harbour rabbits. However, they also play an important role in soil aeration and seed dispersal.

Wombats produce cube-shaped droppings that they use to mark their territory and communicate with other wombats. They have a special digestive system that allows them to extract the maximum amount of moisture from their food, resulting in dry and compact faeces that do not roll away easily.

Wombats face several threats to their survival, such as habitat loss and fragmentation due to agriculture, urbanization, mining, logging, and road construction; predation by introduced species such as foxes, dogs, and cats; competition for food and shelter with rabbits, sheep, cattle, and kangaroos; droughts and bushfires; illegal hunting and poaching; and vehicle collisions.

The Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat is one of the most endangered mammals in the world. It is on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered. There is only a small population of about 80 remaining in a single national park in central Queensland. It is protected by law, but its habitat is threatened by invasive non-native grasses and weeds, erosion, drought and bush fire. Conservation efforts include monitoring the population size and health, controlling predators and competitors, restoring habitat quality and connectivity, captive breeding and translocation programs, public education and awareness campaigns, and community involvement.