Nature conservation

Threatened species

Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat - profile

Indicative distribution


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Key:
known
predicted
The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Lasiorhinus krefftii
Conservation status in NSW: Presumed Extinct
Commonwealth status: Endangered
Profile last updated: 05 Aug 2019

Description

The Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii), is one of three species of wombats. It is one of the rarest large mammals in the world and is critically endangered.

Northern hairy-nosed wombats can reach 35 cm high, up to 1 m long and up to 40 kg. They are slightly larger than the common wombat and able to breed somewhat faster (two young every three years). The females are slightly larger than the males because they have an extra layer of fat. The Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat may appear to be slow but can move at speeds up to 40 km/h over a short distance.

Wombats are heavily built animals with a broad head and short legs. They have strong claws to dig burrows where they spend much of their time. Compared with the Common Wombat, Vombatus ursinus, the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat has softer fur, longer and more pointed ears and a broader muzzle fringed with fine whiskers.

Distribution

Fossil records show this species was once widespread, living in Victoria, NSW and Queensland. However, since European settlement, the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat has only been found in three areas: the Deniliquin area in southern NSW, the Moonie River area in southern Queensland, and Epping Forest National Park in central Queensland. Both the Moonie River and Deniliquin populations are believed to have become extinct in the early 1900s.

The current distribution of the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat is restricted to a single locality in Epping Forest National Park along the Belyando river system which runs through the Park. In July 2006, two wombats were successfully moved to a new burrow within Epping Forest National Park as part of a trial to establish how best to translocate some wombats to a new distant site.

Habitat and ecology

  • The Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat is nocturnal. It occurs in semi-arid cattle grazing country. The vegetation at Epping Forest National Park is dominated by Brigalow and Gidgee scrub, intersected by a gully with deep sandy soils supporting a mixed eucalypt woodland. Dominant native grasses are Aristida spp. and Enneapogon spp. but the introduced Buffel Grass is increasing in abundance. Deep sandy soils are required for burrow construction and these occur along the banks of a single wide gully in the National Park. Most of the Park's soils are heavy clays, unsuitable for burrows. The burrows are usually located close to trees whose roots may provide support in the soft, sandy soil and crowns provide shade.
  • Northern Hairy-nosed Wombats mark their burrows with dung and splashes of urine. A burrow can be spotted by the mound of dug-out sand at the entrance, which can be 1 m high and more than 2 m long. Burrow tunnels can be up to 20 m long, less than half a metre wide, and three-and-a-half metres underground. Well-formed 'runways' are dug through the mound and into the tunnel. Wombats maintain several approaches to their burrows, each in a different direction.
  • Its diet is made up of coarse grass and various types of roots. Its habitat at Epping Forest National Park has become infested with African buffel grass, which out-competes the native grasses the wombat prefers to feed on.
  • A homologous structure and characteristic which is present in all wombats, including Hairy-nosed Wombats, is a pouch which opens at the female wombat's rear end. This characteristic is not common among other marsupials. Having its pouch opening at its rear end is an advantage due to the wombats constant burrowing, as the risk of dirt entering the pouch and harming the offspring is very high. The pouch opening being at the wombats rear end also provides better protection when the mother walks and runs, and also against predators.
  • One young can be born, often during the wet season. It stays in the pouch for 6-9 months, leaving its mother after a year.
  • Compared with other native animals such as kangaroos, Northern Hairy-nosed Wombats live for a long time with an average lifespan estimated at more than 20 years.


Threats

Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Other StateQLD Known None