The wombat has a reputation for being a bit, well…..not that bright. The wonderful Australian author Ruth Park wrote a series of  very popular children’s stories under the title. The Muddle-headed Wombat,

Wombat sign

Waddling this way!

And what does he know?  Well, how to dig, for one thing. He digs his own substantial home;  quite enterprising for such a…..chubby fellow.

The wombat lives

In a funny old hole,

That goes in and in and in.,

The wombat looks

Like a funny old mole,

Except that he isn’t so thin.

Look at those claws! That must be a tunnel map. (Ursula Vernon)

One old settler tried to protect his three acre crop of oats from them and thought he had succeeded. He dug a trench around the paddock,  laid 18 inch logs along it, then covered it with earth and built a fence on top. The wombats simply tunneled underneath the logs and ambled into the oats

Like most ‘digging’ marsupials the wombat has  a pouch  that faces backwards, so its  baby (known as  a joey)   doesn’t  get a face full of dirt.

Baby wombat in pouch
A rear view of life, but no dirty dial.

A wombat’s wide bottom is useful in another way, too. If predators are lurking near the burrow it can turn around and block the entrance….. like a large, furry cork.

Wombt's bottom blocks its burrow.
A bottom block!

I found some anonymous verses  about this quaint creature dating from the 1920s. Here is verse one;

The wombat isn’t beautiful,

And hasn’t any grace,

And his toes turn in when they should turn out,

But he has an honest face.

Yes, that face is  completely honest I reckon.  What on earth was  the artist and author Norman Lindsay thinking when he  created a wombat puddin’  thief in The Magic Pudding?  

Many years earlier another artist kept  a wombat as a pet in his London home.  The Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti even allowed Top to sit up at the dining table. On one occasion Top disgraced himself by eating a lady guest’s hat. I’m afraid he didn’t live all that long. Whether the hat was a  contributing factor  is unclear.

Rossetti and his dead wombat.
A broken hearted Rossetti mourns  his dead companion.

It would be easy to imagine our plump wombats coming a distant last in running races, but over short distances they can move with the speed of Olympic sprinters. Forty kilometres over a distance of 100 metres isn’t too shabby!

A distant  cousin to the wombat is the koala, and there is  definitely a family resemblance. It’s the nose I think.

Koala face
Old cousin ‘Big Ears’
Wombat face
What a sweet little face.

As verse two  of that poem notes, a  wombat doesn’t make much noise, just a snuffle that becomes an asthmatic wheeze if it is annoyed.

The wombat doesn’t talk much,

But not because he can’t,

He was told that he mustn’t when he was young,

By his elderly maiden aunt.

Now the next verse is  very important in understanding the internal workings of a wombat;

The wombat doesn’t eat much,

You’ll notice as you pass,

For all that he wants for his supper at night,

Is a ton or two of grass.

Digestion is a long, slow process, and the end result is scats that look like smooth river rocks.

Wombat poo is a wonder to behold.

The animals use  these compacted scats to mark out territory. Flat sides  mean the  pellets of poo  don’t topple off logs or rocks etc. Isn’t that clever?  There are other, anatomical reasons for the shape….and no, it’s not because they have square bottoms!

Read more here.   Thanks National Geographic, for explaining the whole thing.

But how is  the poo actually formed into the cube shapes?   A recent discovery by Australian scientists won an IGNOBLE PRIZE


Sadly, wombats suffer from mange, spread by mites. A new invention is being used to explore their burrows, gathering research data. It’s a  small, remote controlled vehicle dubbed……. Wombot. 😍 We humans need to be wise too, for the sake of our adorable friends.

Do you know what one of  the collective names for wombats is?   A wisdom. Yes, honestly.



  1. There was so much I hadn’t researched about wombats. I didn’t think they’d eat plants in crops. I hadn’t given any thought as to whether they were carnivores or herbivores. They are quite large and so they would probably eat a lot.

  2. Pauline

    They are so adorably round and fat, like furry barrels.

  3. A completely different read today Pauline. There are wombats around here. Just dont run over one. My car is quite low so definately avoid them.

    • Pauline

      Do they cause problems, Diane? Apart from interacting with the traffic?

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