Wombat

WombatWombat — Wombats are Australian marsupials; they are short-legged, muscular quadrupeds, approximately one metre (3 feet) in length with a very short tail. The name wombat comes from the Eora Aboriginal community who were the original inhabitants of the Sydney area. They are found in forested, mountainous, and heathland areas of south-eastern Australia and Tasmania.

Wombats dig extensive burrow systems with rodent-like front teeth and powerful claws. Although mainly crepuscular and nocturnal, wombats will also venture out to feed on cool or overcast days. They are not as commonly seen as many animals, but leave ample evidence of their passage, treating fences as a minor inconvenience to be gone through or under and leaving distinctive cubic scats.

Wombats have an extraordinarily slow metabolism, taking around 14 days to complete digestion, which aids their survival in arid conditions. They generally move slowly, but when threatened they can reach up to 40 km/h and maintain that speed for up to 90 seconds. Wombats defend home territories centered on their burrows, and react aggressively to intruders. The Common Wombat occupies a range of up to 23 hectares (57 acres), while the hairy-nosed species have much smaller ranges, of no more than 4 hectares (10 acres).

When attacked, they can summon immense reserves of strength; one defense of a wombat against a predator underground is to crush it against the roof of the tunnel, thus suffocating the animal. Its primary defense is its toughened rear hide with most of the posterior made of cartilage. This, combined with its lack of a meaningful tail, makes it difficult for any predator that follows the wombat into its tunnel to bite and injure its target.

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