The wombat is one of our most endearing native marsupials found in moist forest areas along the coast and ranges. Stout and sturdy, they grow to about 1.3 metres in length, and can weigh up to 36 kg. They have a large, blunt head with small eyes and ears, and a short, muscular neck. Their sharp claws and stubby, powerful legs make them great diggers. Wombats have been known to live for up to 27 years in captivity. They live in large underground burrows and often live in communities, yet are famously territorial about their individual feeding grounds. The hairy nosed wombats of New South Wales, found in the north and south of the State are now considered extinct. The common wombat has been declared an protected in NSW since 1970.
Wombats spend between three and eight hours each night grazing on their favourite food, which is native grasses such as the tussocky 'snow grass', wallaby grass and kangaroo grass. They will also eat sedges and the roots of shrubs and trees. They cut their food with sharp, chisel-like front teeth which grow continuously. A wombat may wander up to 3 km a night looking for food. A wombat can reproduce after it reaches two years of age. Mating occurs between September and December, and usually results in one offspring. The newborn wombat, which weighs only 1g and is less than 3cm long, has to crawl from the birth canal into the mother's pouch. This pouch faces backwards, which stops dirt and twigs getting caught in it when the mother digs. The young wombat will stay in the pouch for between seven and 10 months.
The classic 'Muddle Headed Wombat' (1962-82) series written by Sydney author Ruth Park remains a favourite with children today.