The common wombat inhabits the hilly or mountainous coastal country of southeastern South Australia and as well, Tasmania and Flinders Island in Bass Strait. It used to occupy the other islands of Bass Strait, however, through hunting of humans, it has become extinct. Some zoologists have restricted the range of V. ursinus to Tasmania and Flinders Island and regard the mainland form as a second species, V. hirsutus.
Macdonald (1984), Norwak (1983)
Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )
The common wombat's average body size, from the head to the end of its body, ranges from 700 to 1,200mm. The wombat's tail is a mere stub. The general coloration of the animal varies from yellowish buff, silver gray, light gray, gray, dark brown, or black. Males and females have thick, heavy bodies, small eyes, flattened heads, round ears, and coarse, harsh fur. The common wombat is also equipped with short, powerful legs and long, strong foreclaws for digging their large, often complex burrows. Females have a pouch that opens posteriorly. Nowak (1983), Angus and Robertson (1983)
Range mass: 15 to 35 kg.
Habitat and Ecology
Requirements for living include a temperate, humid microclimate, suitable burrowing conditions, and native grasses for food. Slopes above creeks and gullies are favored sites for burrows. They mainly inhabit the wetter, subhumid, eucalypt forests, the hilly, or mountainous coastal country. Macdonald (1984), Nowak (1983)
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest
The common wombat is herbivorous. It feeds mainly on native grass, roots of shrubs and trees, sedges, matrushes, and fungi, using its forefeet to tear and grasp pieces of vegetation. Some individuals forage among refuse along the seashore. Its teeth are very much like those of rodents. Interestingly enough, the common wombat's teeth have adapted to breaking up its tough, highly fibrous food. Because of this, both upper and lower jaws have a single pair of incissors. These incissors are chisel-like and grow continuously, being kept to a reasonable size by constant wear.
Nowak (1983), Angus and Robertson (1983)
Life History and Behavior
Status: wild: 26.0 years.
Status: wild: 5.0 years.
Status: captivity: 26.0 years.
Status: captivity: 26.1 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
The gestation period of female wombats has been estimated at 20 days. Young appear to be born at any time of the year, but births probably peak in late autumn (April to June in Australia). Females have pouches, like those of kangeroos, in which the young complete their development. As mentioned above, the female's pouch opens posteriorly. The pouch contains two teats; however, the normal liter size is one, although twins are known. Young first leave the pouch at six to seven months, but may return occassionally for three more months. Weaning may not occur until they are 15 months old and sexual maturity is attained after two years. The average lifespan is five years, although this species is capable of a long life span in captivity. The record longevity is 26 years and 1 month.
The major causes of death in wild populations include starvation during droughts, outbreaks of mange, predation by dingoes, and collisions with road vehicles.
Nowak (1983), Angus and Robertson (1983), Macdonald (1984)
Average birth mass: 0.5 g.
Average gestation period: 27 days.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male: 730 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 730 days.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Vombatus ursinus
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Vombatus ursinus
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern(Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
The decline of the common wombat has resulted from humans exterminating them, hunting for sport, and competition for food with rabbits. Each species of wombat is protected to some degree in the different states in Australia, except in Victoria, where they are still threatened by hunting. Nowak (1983)
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
The common wombat is classed as vermin in eastern Victoria, mainly because of its damage to rabbit proof fences. Many times the common wombat's burrows pass under rabbit proof fences, which allows rabbits to get around those fences. This is a major nuisance to people who wish to either keep rabbits in the fence or keep them out of the enclosed area. Also, the openings of the wombat's burrows are hazardous to large livestock.
Angus and Robertson (1983), Macdonald (1984)
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
In 1965 the common wombat was wildly hunted because its fur had commercial importance. Recently it has been hunted for sport. Angus and Robertson (1983)
The common wombat (Vombatus ursinus), also known as the coarse-haired wombat or bare-nosed wombat, is a marsupial, one of three species of wombats and the only one in the genus Vombatus. The common wombat grows to an average of 98 cm (39 in) long and a weight of 26 kg (57 lb).
- V. u. hirsutus, the nominate form, is found on the Australian mainland.
- V. u. tasmaniensis is found in Tasmania. It is smaller than V. ursinus hirsutus. 
- V. u. ursinus was once found throughout the Bass Strait Islands, but is now restricted to Flinders Island to the north of Tasmania. Its population was estimated at 4,000 in 1996 and is listed as vulnerable by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and IUCN Red List.
Distribution and Habitat
It is widespread in the cooler and better watered parts of southern and eastern Australia, including Tasmania, and in mountain districts as far north as the south of Queensland, but is declining in Western Victoria and South Australia.
Common wombats can be found at any elevation in the south of their range, however in the north of their range are only found in higher, more mountainous areas. They may be found in a variety of habitats including rainforest, eucalyptus forest, woodland, alpine grassland and coastal areas. In some regions they have adapted to farmland and can even be seen grazing in open fields with cattle and sheep.
Common wombats are sturdy and built close to the ground. When fully grown, they can reach between 80 and 130 cm, and weigh between 17 and 40 kg. The wombats found on Tasmania and Flinders Island are often smaller than their mainland counterparts. It is distinguished from both hairy-nosed wombats by its bald nose.
Common wombats are a solitary, territorial species, with each wombat having an established range in which it lives and feeds. In this area, they dig a tunnel system, with tunnels ranging anywhere from 2 to 20 metres in length, along with many sidetunnels. There is usually only one entrance to the burrow, although they may create a smaller one to escape with. Often nocturnal, the common wombat does come out during the day in cooler weather, such as in early morning or late afternoon.
The common wombat can breed every two years and produce a single joey. The gestation period is about 20-30 days, and the young remain in the pouch for five months. When leaving the pouch, they weigh between 3.5 and 6.5 kg (7.7 and 14.3 lb). The joey is weaned at around 12 to 15 months of age, and is usually independent at 18 months of age. Wombats have an average lifespan of 15 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity.
- Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 43–44. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
- Taggart, D., Martin, R. & Menkhorst, P. (2008). Vombatus ursinus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 28 December 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
- "Common Wombat". Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. Retrieved 13 December 2009.
- "Common Wombat". Wombania's Wombat Information Center. Retrieved 13 December 2009.
- Vombatus ursinus ursinus — Common Wombat (Bass Strait)
- Australasian Marsupial & Monotreme Specialist Group (1996). Vombatus ursinus ssp. ursinus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 15 March 2007.
- "Wombats, Wombat Pictures, Wombat Facts". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 21 July 2011.