Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat
GENUS AND SPECIES: Lasiorhinus krefftii
The Northern hairy nosed wombat is also called the Queensland hairy nosed wombat, the Queensland wombat, the Soft furred wombat, the Broad nosed wombat, Yaminon, the Moonie River wombat, Barnard's hairy nosed wombat, and the Hairy nosed northern wombat. Nickname: Bulldozer of the bush
While there is currently only a single living species of Northern hairy-nosed wombats, an extinct population existed in southeast Queensland along the Moonie River near St. George until about 1908. This population was sometimes classified as a separate species, Lasiorhinus Gillespiei. Another population once existed in Deniliquin, NSW until the late 1800's.
Their range used to include northern Victoria, New South Wales, and about a quarter of Queensland. There now exists only a single remaining population of the Northern hairy-nosed wombat. Its range is restricted to about 300 ha (750 acres) of the Epping Forest in east-central Queensland, 120 km northwest of Clermont. While this area has been protected as a National Park, the native grasses that the Northern hairy nosed wombat eats are being overtaken by non-indigenous grasses such as buffel grass.
Map of Northern hairy-nosed wombat distribution
Their habitat is flat, semi-arid grasslands or woodlands. They live in a harsh, hot climate which experiences frequent droughts, up to 6 years in duration. Average rainfall in their Epping Forest range is 575 mm. The Northern hairy-nosed wombat prefers deep sandy soils in which to dig their burrows.
Since the Northern hairy nosed wombat is very rare, not as much is known about it as the other types of wombats. The head and body of a full-sized adult is about 100 cm (40 inches), with a tail of 50 cm (2 inches). They can weigh from 25 to 40 kg (55 to 88 pounds), with the females being the heaviest. It is somewhat larger than its Southern cousin, and some reports say it's even larger than the Bare-nosed wombat.
The Northern hairy nosed wombat is similar to the Southern hairy nosed wombat, but has a wider, flattened, longer muzzle. They also tend to have dark patches around their eyes.
The Northern hairy-nosed wombat is the rarest Australian marsupial, and probably the world's rarest large mammal. There were as few as 20 individuals left in 1981. Because of conservation efforts, that had risen to approximately 70 by 1989. In the latest population study, there are an estimated 113 (range 96 to 150) individuals (ref. 63). There are only approximately 35 females, however, with about 25 of breeding age.
They feed for about 6 hours per night in the dry winter season, and 2 hours per night in the wet summer season. The feeding area of an individual wombat is about 6 ha (15 acres) in the dry season. In the wet season their feeding range is about 3 ha (7.5 acres). Another report says their feeding range is about 27 ha (65 acres). The feeding ranges of males and females may overlap, but the feeding ranges of females are usually independent of each other.
Northern hairy-nosed wombats will sometimes share burrows with same-sex relatives. In a recent study, they shared a burrow 27% of the time. Burrows are solitary or in groups, and usually under trees.
In Epping forest, there are 208 known burrows, with 179 of them actively being used by wombats.
Their preferred feeding grounds are river banks and grassy creeks. They will rarely drink, usually getting their required moisture from their diet.
The Northern hairy-nosed wombat is extremely rare and is classified as critically endangered. Since there is only a single colony of Northern hairy-nosed wombats left in the world, they are very vulnerable to disease, inbreeding, fire, and natural disasters.by Peter Marinacci