Wombat Defence

When angered, a wombat may hiss and rush. They will often try to chase intruders away. If one wombat enters another's feeding ground, a growling dispute may occur. Adult males may also show aggression by swaying their heads and baring their teeth.

If grasped on the back, a wombat will kick backward with both hind feet like a donkey. With their powerful legs and sharp claws, this can be an effective defence. Their large, sharp incisors can also be used defensively.

In captivity, if two adult wombats are put together, they will often fight; however, many zoos keep wombats together without incident.

In the wild, male aggression usually occurs only around breeding time. Wombats can be territorial and show aggression to one another, but they will rarely fight. When they do, the attacking wombat will try to bite the other wombat's ear or side. The other wombat will try to use its thick-skinned rear as a shield and may use its hind feet to kick back. Wombats may also chase each other.

Wombats Feeding Together

Wombats Feeding Together
Group of Wombats at Phillip Island Wildlife Park (picture courtesy of Womland used with permission)

When threatened, a wombat will try to take shelter in a burrow or a hollow log.

A wombat's burrow is just large enough for the wombat. If an animal such as a dingo tries to attack a wombat in its burrow, the wombat will use its backside as a shield. A wombat's lower back is rounded and covered with extremely thick, tough skin which is difficult to penetrate. The wombat also has a very small tail. This is beneficial as the attacking animal has little or nothing to grab on to. If the attacker does manage to grab onto the wombat, it is very difficult to pull a wombat out of its burrow.

If the attacker attempts to crawl over the wombat in its burrow, the wombat will suddenly push up with its powerful legs, crushing the attacker into the ceiling of the burrow. This can break the attacker's nose or jaw or even kill it by stopping it from breathing.

A Bare-nosed wombat can also climb, although a Hairy-nosed wombat cannot. It is not known if a wombat may climb to escape an attacker.

by Peter Marinacci

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