Today, Friday October 22, is World Wombat Day!
Wombats are our beloved, large, stocky marsupials. They are found only in Australia and on scattered nearby islands.
Like other marsupials, the wombat gives birth to tiny, undeveloped young that crawl into a pouch on their mother’s belly. The infant remains in its mother’s pouch for about five months before emerging. Like kangaroos, even after it leaves the pouch, the young will crawl back into the pouch to nurse or to escape danger.
Wombats are the largest burrowing animals in the world. They use their strong claws to dig large burrows in open grasslands and in forests. The burrows can become extensive tunnel-and-chamber complexes which they inhabit as solitary animals. Their digging ability is legendary. They seem completely undeterred by fences or other barriers as many gardeners and farmers have found to their dismay. If they want to go through a yard, they will dig under the fence on one side and, instead of returning the way they came in, they will dig under the fence on the other side.
Wombats are nocturnal. They emerge at night to feed on grasses, roots, and bark. Their rodentlike teeth that never stop growing but are kept in check by grinding on some of their tougher vegetarian fare. And one of the perennial questions about the digestive system of wombats has recently been solved by a research group from the University of Tasmania who received an Ig Nobel prize for their work.
Wombats are surprisingly agile. When threatened, they can run up to 40 kilometres per hour. The photo below illustrates their agility, grace and elegance.
What better way to celebrate the end of Victorian lockdowns? And where better to celebrate our hairy-nosed friends than Daylesford? (Even the name of the town was once Wombat!) Take your mobile device and hike up Wombat Hill to the Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens, have a bottle of Wombat Forest Chardonnay in the Wombat Hill Café and read The Wombat Post!