- Every Tuesday, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.
Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This week we’re meeting the second-largest marsupial in Australia: the wombat.
There are three species of wombats in Australia: Common, Northern hairy-nosed, and Southern hairy-nosed. Wombats are the world’s largest burrowing animal, producing burrow systems that can be as long as 30 meters. They dig their burrows with their front teeth and powerful claws. To adapt to this lifestyle, wombats have a backward-facing pouch which means that the pouch where its joey spends its first five months is always protected from the soil. Also, wombat poop isn’t round — it’s cubed! One of the beliefs is that the cubic shape makes the poop less likely to roll, which gives this shape a biological advantage because they usually leave them in slightly elevated sites like stones, sticks and clumps of grasses to mark territories and attract mates. Watch the video to learn more about this species!
Special thanks to Dr. Christine Hosking for sharing this footage with us. Dr. Hosking is a semi-retired researcher with the University of Queensland. As a conservation biologist, she is always interested in the environment and wildlife around her. The images were taken with her wildlife camera at a private property on the East Coast of Tasmania, in an area called the Chain of Lagoons.
Banner photo by Rhett A. Butler
Review questions for educators
These questions can help provide a framework for exploring the topics presented in this story.
- Why is wombat poop cube-shaped, according to researchers?
- What is a group of wombats called?
- Name 2 physical features that wombats adapted to help them burrow underground.