Oh no, not again.
Yep. Another mammal
, to be exact) on the IUCN
’s Critically Endangered
species list, the Lasiorhinus krefftii
, or northern hairy-nosed wombat
, is found only within a 1.2 square mile (3 square kilometer) patch of forest
in central Queensland
. This population, numbered at 113 in a 2003 survey
, has declined to critically endangered status due to drought
loss, and competition
species of rabbit
, and sheep
. Its extremely limited distribution puts it at risk of extinction from a disease outbreak or extended drought.
Well, if you insist. But I’m not familiar with that name, is it called by anything else?
The northern hairy-nosed wombat is also known as Barnard’s hairy-nosed wombat, the Moonie River wombat, the Queensland hairy-nosed wombat, the Queensland wombat, the soft-furred wombat, the yaminon, or the broad nosed wombat. To scientists, Lasiorhinus krefftii also includes the Lasiorhinus barnardi and the Lasiorhinus gillespiei. Take your pick.
That rings a bell… maybe. What’s the thing look like?
Growing up to 88 pounds (40 kg) and 3.3 feet (1 m), with females slightly heavier than males, the hairy-nosed wombat gets its name from its muzzle, which is covered in short brown hairs. Its fur is usually brown, grey, fawn, or black, with pointed tufts of white hair on its ears. Well-built, it has powerful legs and claws designed to dig burrows and search for edible plants.
Plants, eh? Is that what it eats?
Correct. The hairy-nosed wombat feeds primarily on native and introduced grasses, but will also eat eucalyptus, acacia, and scrub. It breaks its food down by grinding it with its teeth, which never stop growing throughout its life; the teeth are kept to a manageable size by the same grinding action. The hairy-nosed wombat has one of the lowest water-intake needs of any mammal in the world, about a quarter that of a kangaroo, and a fifth that of a sheep.
So what about reproduction and gestation and organization and any other “tion” words that I’m forgetting?
Although exact numbers aren’t available for the northern hairy-nosed wombat, the closely related southern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) achieves sexual maturity in 3 years for females and 2-3 years for males. After a gestation period of about 21 days, a single young is born during the summer wet season of November through April. Females can breed about twice every three years, assuming adequate rainfall.
Each wombat usually lives alone in a complex tunnel system that usually includes several burrows, though groups of up to ten wombats live near each other in clusters of burrows. In a larger burrow, burrow sharing may occur between a male and a female, though this is rare.