Wombat Watch: Week 2
Wombats are rarely found after fires. This is because they can safely hide in their burrows out of harm’s way as the fires pass overhead. In the 2009 Black Saturday fires the intense heat caused by the flames is thought to have removed the air from the burrows…
Wombats are rarely found after fires. This is because they can safely hide in their burrows out of harm’s way as the fires pass overhead. In the 2009 Black Saturday fires the intense heat caused by the flames is thought to have removed the air from the burrows, allowing embers to drop down to where parent wombats had hidden away protecting their young.
Many of the wombats injured from the fires have burn marks on their rump and back. In recent weeks, malnourished baby wombats have been in the fire-struck areas. Without the watchful eye of their mother, the young wombats become dehydrated and malnourished after weeks of fending for themselves.
As marsupials, wombat young remain in the pouch until they are around eight months old. After this time they will continue to suckle and rely on their mother’s milk until around 15 months of age. Wombats usually stay with their mother until they are at least three-quarters grown at about 18 months or approx 30 kg in weight.
When she was first found, Wombalano weighed a tiny 5.2 kg. Her skin was saggy from malnutrition and it was obvious to Annie that she had lost her mother some time ago.
Wombalano will stay in Annie’s care until she is at least half-grown, between 15–20 kg in weight. She has started to gain weight and is taking to her new diet of freshly picked grasses, some carrot and – her favourite – sweet potato!
With her adopted big sisters Allira and Wyerigeru she is well cared for in her new – if only temporary – home. Allira and Wombalano occupy an enclosure together where they have built themselves a mysterious burrow to hide away in. Annie is not sure where the burrow leads, but knows that the two baby wombats will be safe and sound in their hiding place which will help them learn to cope with the real world when they are released.