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Wombat birth

18 May 2012

Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat Nullabor and her joey are now on view in the Zoo's wombat burrow.

Nullabor's joey is the first baby of this species to be born at Melbourne Zoo since 2004.

Like other marsupial species, wombat joeys are very tiny and hairless when emerge from the birth canal and crawl up into their mothers' pouch.

They stay there for six to nine months, fastened onto one of the teats in the pouch.

Keepers noted that Nullabor had given birth in October, but the joey wasn't visible at all until March, when it first put a leg out of the pouch.

Now she has "popped": she's permanently out of the pouch!

This joey is the first offspring for Nullabor, who arrived at Melbourne Zoo in 1999, when she was a year old.

Father Hagen arrived at Melbourne Zoo in 1993 as an adult, and he has sired joeys previously.

This species is native to South Australia and the eastern coastal region of Western Australia.

In the wild, they live in groups of up to ten individuals.

They construct extensive burrow systems, with a large central warren surrounded by smaller warrens.

They escape the summer heat in their native habitat by spending the daytime in their large burrows, conserving both water and energy.

They emerge at dusk to feed on the sparse and tough native vegetation, which is low in protein, water, and energy.

They are closely related to Australia's most endangered mammal species, the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat, which is only found in two remote locations.