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Wombat !

1. What is a wombat?
2. What is a marsupial?
3. What are the three types of wombat?
4. What is the wombat's lifestyle?
5. What about breeding?


1. What is a wombat?

The wombat is a cute-looking furry creature which is native to Australia. To be more specific, wombats are a family of species of the marsupial order, and there are actually three species within the wombat family. The wombat digs burrows, is mainly nocturnal, and mainly eats grasses.

Wombats do not appear clever or agile (for instance they prefer to barge through any obstacle rather than figure out a way round it) and this has made them an object of derision in Australia where "you wombat" is an accusation of clumsiness or stupidity. In fact, however, although they are extremely stubborn, wombats have proportionally the largest brain of all the marsupials and in captivity are easily house-trained and recognise their pet name when it is spoken.

A wombat is *not* a bat for hitting woms with.


2. What is a marsupial?

Marsupials are an order of species under the class mammalia (mammals) found only in Australia. They are similar to most other mammals in that they are warm-blooded, generally furry and give birth to live young rather than laying eggs. However they are different to other mammals in that their young are not carried to full term in the womb, but are born at an early stage of development, and crawl into the mother's pouch where they live until they are sufficiently developed to experience the outside world. In this stage of their lives they are known as "Joeys".

Koalas, wallabies and kangaroos are also marsupials.


3. What are the three types of wombat?

The Common Wombat is the most numerous and widespread. It is the largest type (an adult weighing typically 30kg, as much as a labrador dog, and with a body up to a metre long) and is found in the temperate coastal regions of eastern Australia.

The Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat prefers a more arid climate and is found in parts of southern and western Australia. In the daytime it hides in extensive underground warrens. In terms of sharing burrows it is more social than the common wombat.

The Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat now exists only in one small enclave in Queensland and is on the brink of extinction (there are less than 100 known individuals left) due to competition from grazing animals imported from Europe. However, since 1982 cattle were excluded from their known area so it is possible that their numbers may now have a chance to rise again with luck and good breeding conditions.


4. What is the wombat's lifestyle?

Eating, burrowing and playing are the major occupations. Wombats are herbivorous, and will eat grass if nothing better turns up. They have very strong jaws, used to grip and tear food, and their teeth grow throughout life.

Wombats dig burrows for shelter from the heat of the day as well as from predators (though there are few animals large enough to take on the mass of a wombat). Their front legs are immensely strong and have short, flat claws ideal for digging; the back legs are used at the same time to clear away earth and rubble resulting in very fast digging (and a muddy face for any wombat who happens to be standing just behind them when this is going on).

Wombat burrows typically vary between 5-25m long. Individual wombats seem to prefer to occupy a burrow alone, but will sometimes share and may change home several times in one night. Adult wombats are aggressively territorial (not so cute after all!) and having scent-marked their territory, will defend it first with displays of aggression including growling, and if this fails by attacking the trespasser.

Due to their powerful legs, wombats can run extremely fast (40km/hr) but due to their mass are not very good at stopping if something gets in the way.


5. What about breeding?

Wombats seem to enjoy this as much as anyone. They mature sexually at 2 years old (which means that it takes at least 4 years for the population to rise significantly after a bad year) and can expect to live at least 5 years in the wild (in captivity, ages up to 20 have been recorded).

The main breeding season for wombats is around April to June, according to climate. The baby wombat is born within a few weeks, and crawls into it's mother's pouch where it remains for up to 10 months, though it will start to emerge for short periods inside the burrow from 7-8 months old. Milk is available in the pouch and wombats are unique in that the pouch opens away from the mother's head, rather than toward it as in all other marsupials. This is because of wombats' burrowing habits - if the pouch opened towards the head it'd fill up with earth when the mother was digging! The young wombat will stay with the mother for a further year after leaving the pouch, after setting off into the wide world to find its own territory. The mother finally gets some peace as the young wombat heads off into the sunset in search of its fortune.


Mago
mago@rio.pm.org



In reply to Re: The cutest Perl6 marsupial mascot would be... by Mago
in thread The cutest Perl6 marsupial mascot would be... by tye 

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