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Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus Krefftii)

Northern Hairy Nosed 

The Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat

The northern hairy-nosed wombat is classified as critically endangered and is one of the rarest animals in the world. There is currently only one small population of this species located in the Epping Forrest National Park in central Queensland, the small population in itself is the greatest threat of extinction. The population decline can be largely attributed to loss of habitat to cattle. Northern hairy-nosed wombats are protected in the Epping National Park from their main predator, the dingo. There is a fence to prevent the dingos from eating the wombats as they did in early 2001 (which eliminated 10% of the northern hairy-nosed wombat population). In 1971 the Epping National Forrest was established as a safe heaven for the northern hairy-nosed wombats.

Presently, the habitat of the northern hairy-nosed wombat consists of eucalypt woodland, several patches of scrub on deep soil, and flat grasslands. The northern hairy-nosed wombat prefers deep, sandy soil as it is ideal for digging burrows. This species is not very social but will live in large clusters of burrows; there have been records of to wombats in the same burrow. Northern hair-nosed wombats will burrow near a tree when ever possible. This species is nocturnal; however it is notable that the climate at Epping National Park the weather is very hot. The wombats spend their days in burrows as a retreat from the heat and coming out in the cool night. On winter days some northern hairy-nosed wombats can be seen basking in the sun.

Northern hairy-nosed wombats are about 1000mm long with a tail that measures around 25mm. Average weight is 30kg, making this species the largest burrowing herbivore in the world. Brownish grey soft, silky fur covers the northern hairy-nosed wombat. Its head is wide with pointed ears. Northern hairy-nosed wombats have long claws and strong legs which aide the animal in digging burrows.

The northern hairy-nosed wombat enjoys eating various grasses; two hours per night in the summer are spent eating and six hours per night in the winter. Most likely the fluctuation is related to the heat. This species requires very little water.

Mating occurs in the late spring lasting until mid summer. There is a gestation period of about 21 days. Females are only capable of having on young per litter. It is not known how long the baby wombats stay with their mother; however they do stay in the pouch for up to nine months, after that they remain in the nest. Maturity occurs for males at around 2 years and 3 years for females. Breeding is correlated with rainfall, possibly to assure adequate food supply for the young. The life span of a wild northern hairy-nosed wombat is 20 years, in captivity they are capable of living over 26 years.

Further Information on the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat:

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A Field Guide to the Mammals of Austrailia, Menkhorst, P. and Knight, F. 2001

Australias Vanishing Mammals: Endangered and Extinct Native Species, Flannery T.F. 1990

Animal Info-Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat, Massicot, P., 8/7/04, www.animalinfo.org/species/lasikref.htm.

Northern Hairy-nosed wombat, Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage, 8/7/04. http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/information/factsheets/northern-hairynosed.html.

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