Although wombats are mostly solitary animals, the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat is the most social of the three wombat species. This iconic Australian species is keenly sought out by both local and international visitors while at Melbourne Zoo.
Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats are classed as ‘least concern’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN ‘red list’). Nevertheless there are growing concerns about the state of these wombats in the Murraylands region, where many have been found to be affected by hair loss and skin diseases. The causes are not yet confirmed. Although the species is not considered to be vulnerable, most Australians are aware of the risks posed by deforestation, introduced predators and road traffic.
Melbourne Zoo’s wombats want visitors to have guilt free bums. Wipe for Wildlife is a Zoos Victoria campaign promoting the use of recycled toilet paper in order to protect the habitat of native wildlife. Millions of trees are flushed down Australian loos each year, threatening the survival of animals like the wombat. Switching to recycled toilet paper keeps our trees in the ground and out of our toilets.
Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats are found in parts of southern Australia and southeast Western Australia in arid and semi-arid habitats.
Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats are similar in size and shape to the Common Wombat, with silkier fur, long ears and furry muzzles. The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat is a brownish-grey colour on its back, and pale grey underneath. Its head is broad with narrow, pointed ears and brown or white fur on the nose.
The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat is 70–94cm long, with a 2.5–6 cm tail. It weighs about 20–32kg.
Wombats are solid and stocky. They have short legs and large front feet, with bear-like claws. The second and third toes of the hind feet are fused, with a double claw used in grooming. Wombats’ legs and shoulders are powerful and they use their front legs for digging burrows.
The pouch of the wombat faces backwards to prevent soil and dirt entering while digging.