A wombat is a small mammal somewhat like a kangaroo.
To quote Ogden Nash,
'The wombat lives across the seas
Among the far Antipodes.
He may subsist on nuts and berries
Or, then again, on missionaries.
I, for one, would not engage the wombat
in any form of mortal combat.'

The Jargon File mentions wombats too. . . it stands for Waste of Money, Brains, and Time, for example, "Running any Microsoft program for Unix is a total wombat."
The wombat is cute, therefore we will learn about it.


physical description

The Wombat is a warm blooded mammal, when grown to full size it is covered in fur and may reach a weight of over thirty-nine kilograms and grow to over a meter long. The common wombat has a tail, however it is mostly obscured by fur which ranges from black to dark grey and brown. The wombat is also a marsupial, this means that that it will live in its mothers pouch until it is old enough to fend for itself.

The front legs are short with powerful shoulders which makes it well suited for digging cozy burrows. The five claws of the front legs are used to loosen the soil, while the broad padded palms scoop the loose soil backwards and sideways. The rear feet are narrower and longer compared to the ones in front, they are used to kick loose soil out of the burrow.


genus

Vombatus ursinus (the Common Wombat)


habitat

An animal unique to Australia, they are found primarily in Victoria, Tasmania, and Queensland. They live predominantly in forests and cold mountainous regions. Though they were once prevalent throughout the southwestern and eastern portions of Australia, all five types of wombats are now confined to a much smaller area.

The wombat lives in burrows made from loose soil and rocks which are typically four meters long, however they may extend up to 20 or 30 meters as part of a burrow system. The burrows are typically dug out of slopes, banks, or hills, and have small sleeping places located near the end.


feeding habits

The diet of a wombat consists primarily of grass and other plants. Their teeth grow continuously throughout their life due the wear caused by eating food.


behavior

Primarily the wombat will sleep during the day and emerge at night to feed and move about (thus it is a nocturnal animal), however it may come out during daytime on occasion.

A wombat will reach a reproductive age when it is three or four years old, although breeding is contingent upon a good supply of food for milk production. If conditions are not adequate, then a wombat may delay the reproductive cycle until things are more favorable for nurturing young. The male wombat takes no part of the upbringing of offspring.

It takes roughly three to four weeks for a baby wombat to be born after mating has occurred, at this point it is still highly undeveloped and will claw its way into the mothers pouch. Once in the pouch, it will attach itself to one of the teats and stay there for three months or longer. Once the baby has developed a thick coat of fur it will leave the pouch for the outside world, however it will not stray far from its mother and will often return to hide in the mothers pouch at signs of danger. After ten months, the young wombat will be ready to leave the pouch permanently and live on its own.


weirdo-bizarro-trivia facts

I have a sad but true wombat story. I killed one! (accidentally) Well, the wombat got me back, it destroyed my car. Ford Escorts don't like colliding with solid wombats at 100kph. I was setting up a bush doof at the time, and was driving back to town at night it was about 1am on 25th January 1996. I rounded a corner, then pow - bam "Holy Marsupials, WomBatman!"

The wombat had put a huge dent in the car, pushing the radiator back through the fan blades, destroying the fan and the radiator. I got out, and there it was, a HUGE wombat. The skin was so thick, that it wasn't even punctured. There was no wound or bleeding. Incredible. It was difficult for two strong people to drag the creature off the road it was so heavy. I felt so sad afterwards ... I even said a prayer to the wombat god, even though I'm not religious. There was something about the size of the thing - this wasn't ordinary road kill. I could almost feel it's spirit leaving. What would wombat heaven be like? I cannot imagine a wombat's heaven as being celestial, they are far too earthy creatures for that. I think they would find great contentment in the bowels of the earth. Endless tunneling, total darkness, snuggling. I just can't imagine wombats frolicking in bright white ethereal gases, they would hate it. So perhaps wombats are evil after all - their heaven is where Christian Hell is conventionally located. Can you picture a wombat with wings? Didn't think so.

Sob.

P.S - did you know that wombats are great airconditioning engineers and architects. They have incredible ways of building ventilation systems into their burrows, which keep fresh air circulating underground. Amazing. They don't need heaven.
womb box = W = womble

WOMBAT /wom'bat/ adj.

[acronym: Waste Of Money, Brains, And Time] Applied to problems which are both profoundly uninteresting in themselves and unlikely to benefit anyone interesting even if solved. Often used in fanciful constructions such as `wrestling with a wombat'. See also crawling horror, SMOP. Also note the rather different usage as a metasyntactic variable in Commonwealth Hackish.

Users of the PDP-11 database program DATATRIEVE adopted the wombat as their notional mascot; the program's help file responded to "HELP WOMBAT" with factual information about Real World wombats.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

Wom"bat (?), n. [From the native name, womback, wombach, in Australia.] Zool.

Any one of three species of Australian burrowing marsupials of the genus Phascolomys, especially the common species (P. ursinus). They are nocturnal in their habits, and feed mostly on roots.

 

© Webster 1913.

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