This wombat is South Australia's' state animal emblem.
Its main difference in looks to the common wombat is that its broader nose is covered in fine hairs, it is smaller, has larger more pointy ears and its grey fur is "silkier" to the touch (for general description of a wombat click here)
LOCATION and HABITAT
Like most animals in Australia the Southern Hairy nosed wombat used to be plentiful over a mush wider range, but today they are found in pockets in Southern South Australia mainly around the Great Australian Bite.
This includes the Gawler Ranges, southern reaches of the Nullarbor plains and the Eyre and York Peninsulas.
These locations are generally semi arid to arid, and includes grass plains, as well as savannas, coastal dunes and/or small scattered shrubs
Like all 3 species of wombats, Southern Hairy noses, spend most of the day sleeping in burrows.
These burrows can often be a complex system up to 30 meters total length with many entrances.
These burrows are often dug into a slope, like on a small hillside, creek bed, or under limestone formations
and is dug by their powerful front limbs, and the earth pushed out behind them by their back limbs.
Southern Hairy nosed wombats are more social than other wombats and live in groups (6 to 10)
and in the warren system the males occupy the middle and the females the smaller outer tunnels.
Home range of these wombats is anywhere up to 10 acres based around their warren.
Wombats being herbivorous eat mainly grass (eg. Spear & Wallaby grasses), but also eat other plant material such as sedges, bark, roots, and
Most of this plant life is very dry and abrasive (to have survived the arid conditions it grows in)
and this is why the wombat have teeth that grow all through their life.
Their cleft upper lip allows them to graze very close to the ground,
which is important in drought time to eat very small shoots.
Because Southern Hairy Nosed Wombats live in arid or semi arid conditions,
they have a few ways of surviving these harsh dry conditions.
1) - They are nocturnal, spending their days in its cool warren (tunnel)
2)- When resting their metabolic rate is very low (lower than that of a common wombat)
3)- Their stomach takes up to 8 days to digest food, meaning they get every bit of nutrition from their eaten products.
4)- Specially developed kidneys to allow more water absorption and secretion of unusable substances.
Being a marsupial the wombat has a pouch, though unlike kangaroos etc the wombats pouch faces backward so no dirt gets in when it is tunnelling.
Despite having 2 teats in the pouch, wombats only give birth to 1 young at a time (usually between September and December, depending on availability of feed and water).
The young joey then stays in the pouch for a further 6 to 9 months and stays close to mum for the next year or so.
Wombats reach sexual maturity at 2 to 3 years, and it is thought wombats usually live around 5 years in the wild.
In captivity wombats have lived up to 20 years and it is said that Southern hairy nosed wombats are easier to keep as they are more docile.
PREDATORS and DEFENCE
The only two natural predators are the Dingo and Wedge tailed Eagle.
If a smaller animal like a fox or feral dog chases a wombat into its burrow,
the wombat will defend itself with pig like grunts and kicking, and can crush intruders against
the side or roof of their burrow.
But the Southern hairy nosed wombat prefers flight than fight.
Keen hearing and smelling and sprinting speed of up to 40km an hour and the close proximity of a burrow, means flight is its best survival instinct.
NUMBERS + FUTURE
Like all species of wombats their range has reduced since the coming of Europeans.
Loss of Habitat for farming purposes has been the biggest reason for decline, though car accidents and shooting as vermin contribute to their decline.
Today they are a protected species and classified as Vulnerable.
The Natural History Society of South Australia (a volunteer society) is fighting to preserve the southern hairy nosed wombat and has launched an appeal to expand its Moorunde Wildlife Reserve