Bare-nosed or Common Wombat
GENUS AND SPECIES: Vombatus ursinus
The Bare-nosed wombat was, until recently, generally refered to as the Common wombat. It is also known as the Coarse haired wombat, the Naked nosed wombat, the Forest wombat, the Island wombat, and the Tasmanian wombat. Its nickname is "The bulldozer of the bush"
The Bare-nosed or Common wombat (picture courtesy of Womland used with permission)
All Bare-nosed or Common wombats are generally considered a single species, Vombatus ursinus; however, they are sometimes classified as separate species or subspecies depending on where they live.
The Australian mainland species is sometimes classified as a separate species, Vombatus hirsutus, but is more commonly classified as a subspecies, Vombatus ursinus hirsutus.
The Bare-nosed or Common wombats that live in Tasmania and on Flinders Island in Bass Strait are slightly smaller than the mainland wombats and are often considered two separate subspecies. The wombats from Flinders Island are the smallest and are called Vombatus ursinus ursinus. The Tasmania wombats are called Vombatus ursinus tasmaniensis.
Map of Common wombat distribution
The Bare-nosed or Common wombat is the most widespread. They were once found throughout southeast Australia, but their range is now restricted to the coastal regions of southeast Australia, including: the southeast tip of Queensland, the eastern region of New South Wales, the eastern half and southern areas of Victoria, and the southeastern tip of South Australia. Their population is much less than it used to be.
Bare-nosed wombats are widespread in Tasmania, especially in the Northeast. They also occur on Flinders Island, which is located between Australia and Tasmania. Bare-nosed wombats used to be native to all the islands of the Bass Strait (the waters between Australia and Tasmania), but now are restricted to Flinders Island.
The Bare-nosed wombat lives in the temperate regions of southeast Australia and Tasmania. Habitat includes woodlands, shrub-lands, heath, coastal regions, and hilly and mountainous regions. They seem to prefer wetter, forested, rocky regions that are cooler. They also prefer sloping ground for proper burrow drainage.
A wombat's size compared to a person (picture courtesy of Womland)
The length of the average Bare-nosed wombat, including its head and body, probably ranges from about 90 to 115 cm (35 to 45 inches). The maximum reported range is from 67 to 130 cm (26 to 51 inches). The small tail is 2.5 cm (1 inch), and their height when on all fours is 36 cm (14 inches). The average adult weighs from 22 to 39 kg (48 to 86 pounds), though some reports give a low of 15 kg (33 pounds) and a high of over 45 kg (100 pounds). Males tend to be slightly larger and heavier than females.
According to one source, the average Bare-nosed wombat is approximately 1 meter (39 inches) and 27 kg (60 pounds). Another source says the average weight is about 23 kg (50 pounds). The Tasmania Bare-nosed wombats are not quite as large or heavy, the average being 85 cm (33 inches) and 20 kg (44 pounds), and the maximum being about 25 kg (55 pounds). The Flinders Island Bare-nosed wombats average about 75 cm (30 inches).
Bare-nosed wombat skeleton. Wombats have short, stout limbs (picture courtesy of The Natural History Collections of the University of Edinburgh, used with permission)
The Bare-nosed wombat's head is more rounded than that of the Hairy-nosed wombat. The Bare-nosed wombat has a large bare nose which is shiny black with granular skin, much like that of a dog. The ears are relatively small, triangular, and slightly rounded.
The Bare-nosed wombat's fur is coarse and thick, bristle-like, with little or no underfur. To the touch, it feels like horse hair. Longer than the Hairy-nosed wombat's fur, it is better adapted to the Bare-nosed wombat's colder, wetter, forest habitat. Coloration ranges from yellowish or sandy, to brown or black, to grey. The fur can sometimes be streaked or flecked, and the belly and throat areas are usually lighter in color. Their true color, however, is often masked by the color of the dirt in which they've been digging.
The Bare-nosed Wombat's nose and fur are quite different from the Hairy-nosed wombat's (picture courtesy of Womland used with permission)
In favorable conditions, Bare-nosed wombats can have a population density of 0.3 to 0.5 per hectare (0.1 to 0.2 per acre). Each wombat will have a home range of about 5 to 27 hectares (12 to 65 acres) which will encompass a number of burrows and will overlap the territory of other wombats. The size of their home range depends upon the location and quality of their feeding areas.
Bare-nosed wombats are considered solitary except during the breeding season, but there have been reports that they visit each other's burrows on occasion. Some reports say that Bare-nosed wombats may also form colonies.
The Bare-nosed wombat is unprotected in Victoria. The Bare-nosed wombats on Flinders Island are classified as vulnerable.by Peter Marinacci