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Research & Education
Articles
Wombat Myths

 

(Extract).

 

Belief: There is a population explosion of Wombats in the Bega Valley Shire.

 

Fact: Wombats cannot have “population explosions”. Bare-Nosed Wombats breed every two to three years and have one young. While it is technically possible for them to breed yearly this can only happen if the young lactating wombat is killed. Thus destruction or removal of young wombats leads directly to an increase in young born in a particular period. Most studies agree that wombats have young in a 50:50 ratio hence of all young born and successfully reared in any period 50% will be male. The young females take two years to reach sexual maturity and are unlikely to breed until they have established a “territory”. Hence, most females will not breed until their third year. There is some evidence that if they cannot establish a large enough territory (ie; have access to a range of burrows not being used by other breeding females) they don’t breed. Triggs,B. pp91-96. 2002. A pair of Bare-Nosed Wombats can only produce the equivalent of one female every four years so it is not possible to have a population explosion of wombats. See Boer in Wells (Ed.) 1998 p.129 and Marks Ibid.p.125.

 

Belief: Wombats are rodents/moles and breed and behave similarly.

 

Fact: Wombats are not related to nor do they behave like moles or rodents. Wombats belong to the phylum chordata, the subphylum verterbrata and the class mammalia just as humans do. Their subclass is Marsupialia as they along with possums and macropods have embryonic young born after approximately 30 days which then spend eight months in a pouch (Triggs,2002,p.12). Wombats are not rodents nor are they related to rodents. The closest living relative to the wombat is the Koala. Placental structures of the Bare-Nosed Wombat resemble those of the Koala and provide further evidence of close phylogenetic affinity Wells(Ed.)1998.p.86.

 

Belief: There weren’t any wombats here previously - they are not native to the area.

 

Fact: Wombats contract from and reappear in areas due to environmental changes caused by human activity. Wombats prefer native bush for habitat as their preferred diet is native grasses and they require habitat that allows for numerous burrows across their range. Australia wide, where wombats still exist, there has been movement noticed in wombat populations. In general, their overall range has decreased and moved towards the coast as a direct result of loss of habitat (see Triggs,B.2002.pp.1-9.). Other factors such as the introduction of rabbits and then various control methods for rabbits have affected wombat range.

 

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Bare-Nosed Wombat

Courtesy L Dennis


 

 



Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat
Courtesy L Dennis

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