In this new post, we will meet the jungle badger , and this is one of the wild animals that has been on earth for millions of years. We will look at its characteristics, habitat, food, reproduction, predators, and relevant information that will surely interest you. So if you want to expand your knowledge about the wild animals of the jungle, we encourage you to read on.
Badger is a common name for any of several strong carnivores. Most of the members of the weasel family (Mustelidae). Are found in various parts of the world and are known for their digging ability.
What is a badger?
When defining what a badger is, it is necessary to begin by saying that it is a carnivorous mammal of the Mustelidae family capable of producing a painful bite. Some are also carriers of a type of rabies. The best known are the black and white striped badgers in Western Europe.
Badgers are believed to be related to otters and weasels and can often grow up to a meter in length. The badger lives in underground burrows that often contain a labyrinth of tunnels. By digging his den, the badger can eliminate tons of soil.
Species differ in size, habitat, and coloration. However, they are all nocturnal and have large, robust forelegs, powerful jaws, and odorous anal glands. These glands use them to dig for food and build underground burrows.
Badger is the common name for any animal in the three badger subfamilies, which belong to the Mustelidae family. This is the same family of mammals like ferrets, weasels, otters, and many other types of carnivores, which means that the badger is closely related to these animals.
What does badger mean?
According to Native Americans, the meaning of badger or the sighting of traces of this animal was very favorable. Seeing badger tracks was interpreted as a message that everything is possible when we harness our inner creative powers.
Most of the time, it is not easy to get what you want, and this is a lesson for us to be persistent in our searches. Specifically, the badger totem seeks to encourage and encourage people to complete what they start, to adopt the qualities of the harsh and robust badger character to help you complete all the projects you dream of.
The meaning of badger is also related to his independent nature and his aggressive character when he feels threatened. This is a lesson for us to stand firm and make our presence known when the situation requires it.
Although smaller in stature, the badger catches the attention of friends and enemies alike. We can do the same, but we must be aware that we do it healthily and constructively.
The badger is connected to the earth, and therefore is a earthgrab totem for us. When we feel disconnected or confused, the badger can help us take root and anchor us to what is vital in our lives.
When the badger comes into our lives, it is time to take care of the projects, talk, and ask for help if we need it. Part of what badger means is also a sign that it’s time we came out of hiding: it is time we let the world know we’re here when it comes to business.
The Badger taxonomy
According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), an association of several U.S. agencies. A generally accepted taxonomy of badgers is as follows:
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Edge: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Subclass: Theria
- Order: Carnivorous
- Suborder: Caniformia
- Family: Mustelidae
- Subfamily: Mustelinae
Gender and species:
- Arctonyx collaris | Hog badger (with six subspecies)
- Meles anakuma | Japanese Badger
- Meles leucurus | Asian Badger (with six subspecies)
- Meles meles | European Badger (or Eurasian) (with eight subspecies)
- Mellivora capensis | Honey Badger (with 12 subspecies)
- Taxidea taxus | American Badger (with five subspecies)
Some taxonomies list subfamilies such as Melinae (European and Asian badgers). Mellivorinae (honey badgers), and Taxidiinae (American badgers). Also, the badger’s scientific name is Taxidea Taxus.
Documentary: The Badger
What does a badger look like?- Characteristics
The badger is a bear-like animal with short, powerful legs and sharp claws. Armed with musk glands (such as its close relative, the skunk), and relies on its powerful, robust, one-meter-long body to protect itself.
Because of their nocturnal habits, they are rarely seen in nature, although they are common throughout northern Europe and the United States. A badger’s response to danger can be quite surprising.
Badgers are about 75 centimeters long and have a tail length of about 15 centimeters. Their average weight is 8 to 9 kilograms in spring and 11 to 12 kilograms in fall. However, weights can vary greatly. Badgers are thick, round mammals and are very powerful for their size.
They have a dense grey coat and short but powerful black legs, are adapted with long, sharp claws that are very useful for digging. Badgers are generally thought to have poor eyesight, yet their hearing and sense of smell are excellent. Badgers have a distinctive black, and white striped face and white pointed ears.
Another essential characteristic of the badger is its odor glands. Badgers can produce a very unpleasant odor through their anal glands when threatened or given a warning.
These excretions are also used in communication, to mark territories, and to guide badgers across borders by spraying trails and landmarks. The badger also has a gland under the base of its tail, which gives it a slightly better musky smell. They usually use it to communicate and mark each other through the aroma.
How do badgers behave?
Badgers are closely related to weasel personalities and share the same rank as their cousins, the skunks. What sets them apart from their family members is their extraordinary physical and emotional strength and their tenacious approach to life’s challenges.
Badger specimens boast good looks, whether small or medium. They walk as if they own the world, and their powerfully constructed bodies and dominant personalities do not turn down for anyone. Not even before the forceful personality and much broader aspect of the lion.
They will enter with confidence into the territory of others, and they will face anyone who blocks their way. Like most carnivores, badgers stay fit with regular physical activity and wear elegant black and white colors on their coat.
They enjoy moving, and their competitive nature takes them to the limit of their abilities. Because of their small size, they sometimes feel the need to impose themselves in order to earn respect accorded to larger carnivores.
However, the badger’s tendency to bite more than he can chew often results in an overestimate of his abilities. With the heart of a tiger, tenacity is both its greatest asset and its most problematic condition.
These animals almost always succeed in their purposes but are often stalked by predators. The grand ambitions lead them to act without considering the risks, sinning of overconfidence in themselves. Sometimes they fall headlong into dangerous situations and are forced to make their way into burrows. Even so, they never fall without a fight.
Badgers are regarded as leaders, especially by the personalities of smaller animals, but their physical stature can limit hierarchical ambitions. However, this does not deter them from running races they are destined to lose.
Like their cousin the weasel, badgers are opportunistic and sometimes join forces with more reflective animals to compensate for their impetuous nature.
They are somewhat authoritarian but equally just and rational. They do not exhibit much ego. With their heads down, looking for opportunities, badgers always generate great respect from their peers.
In areas of the UK and Europe where food supplies abound, badgers are social creatures, living in groups of between 4 and 12 individuals often called ‘clans’. There is usually one dominant male and one female. Manure pits usually border a badger’s territory.
As with many wild animals, if other groups cross these borders, fierce fights can occur. In other parts of Europe, where food is scarce, badgers tend to adopt a more solitary existence and are not obliged to mark territory. So it is common to see images of solitary badgers.
Where do badgers live? Natural habitat
Badgers rarely venture out during the day and live in an extensive network of underground tunnels and nests. They prefer well-drained soil and often dig their traps under the roots of trees to provide stability to the soil. The nesting chambers in the tunnels are covered with dry grass, ferns, and straw.
When they leave at dusk, they go in search of food, usually venturing into a nearby field or forest. Badgers emerge at dusk in summer to spend the night feeding. In winter, badgers are much less active. However, they do not hibernate.
Badgers prefer dry and open grasslands, although they are very adaptable. Some types of badger also live in forests, quarries, hedges, cliffs, and moors. American badgers are typically found in the Great Plains region of North America.
They can also be found in the western United States, in the central-western provinces of Canada, and the mountainous areas of Mexico.
- Honey badgers are found in southern Africa.
- Hog badgers live mainly in Southeast Asia, India and Sumatra.
- Asian badgers spread across Russia and into China and Eastern Europe.
- The European or Eurasian badger extends from Ireland and Spain to eastern Russia, China, and Japan.
Badgers are also found in large quantities in the UK. Government officials have taken steps to “sacrifice” the population to prevent the spread of tuberculosis from badgers to livestock.
What does a badger eat?
Badgers are mainly carnivores, but they are also known as omnivores and insectivores. Even a tasty worm or wet bulb will take away your hunger along with small mammals, lizards, frogs, insects or rabbits, and young birds.
Worms make up 50% of their diet. Depending on the time of year, badgers also feed on berries, fruits, nuts, roots, and cereals if other sources of food are scarce.
Badgers are also known for eating carrion (the corpse of a dead animal). Also, dig up the nests of wasps and bumblebees to eat the larvae. In urban areas, some types of badgers collect food from containers and gardens.
Most badgers are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and meat. However, they mainly consume worms and long-legged larvae. Some other foods badgers enjoy include slugs, small mammals, snails, bird eggs, and fruits.
The honey badger is a carnivore and will eat snakes, jackals, foxes, and even crocodiles. It also eats smaller animals, such as insects and larvae. It will also look for beehives to reach the honey, hence its common name and its scientific name: Mellivora, which means “honey devourer”.
Mating of badgers
Badger’s mate during the summer, however, implantation is delayed until December, which means they may contain fertilized eggs in suspended development until the right time for reproduction occurs.
The gestation period is 7 to 8 weeks. A litter of 2 to 5 puppies is born from January to March.
Adult badgers protect, discipline, and care for their young. They are usually quiet in their burrows and do not intentionally interfere or bother anyone. They live for up to 15 years (average 3 years) in nature and up to 19 years in captivity. If they survive their first year, the most common cause of death is road traffic.
Are badgers in danger of extinction?
The population of badgers is estimated at 250,000 to 300,000 adults living in 50,000 groups. About 50,000 badgers die on the roads every year. Ten thousand badgers die every year from illegal bait.
Badgers in Britain have, in the past, been threatened by badger bait, a sport in which the badger is attacked by a group of dogs until he can no longer fight and dies. This activity was every day throughout the Middle Ages in Britain until an Act of Parliament banned it in 1835. The sale of badgers also became illegal in 1973 under the Badger Act.
The only thing that threatens the badger population today is any disease within the species, habitat loss through agriculture and development, or traffic accidents.
However, they are well protected by law, the most recent being the Badger Protection Act of 1992. Many local groups across the country actively promote and protect this famous charming creature.
How many types of badgers are there?
Eight species give rise to badger types. The species are:
- Badger of Eurasia (Meles meles)
- American Badger (Taxidea taxus)
- Honey Badger, also called Ratel (Mellivora capensis)
- Hog Badger (Arctonyx collaris )
- Three species of ferret badger (Melogale). The Sunda stink badger (Mydaus javanensis) and The Palawan Stink-badger (Suillotaxus marchei).
The three subfamilies are: Melinae (the Eurasian badgers), Mellivorinae, (the Ratel, honey or sand badger), and Taxideinae (the American badger).
Badgers (Meles meles) are the largest members of the Mustelid family and are the largest terrestrial carnivores in Brittany. They are rarely seen as they are nocturnal and subterranean inhabitants, although they are quite common in the British Isles.
There are approximately 300,000 badgers in the UK. This may seem like a large number. However, it is estimated that 47,500 die in traffic accidents each year. Badgers are an endangered species in many parts of the UK.
The badger is the giant of the weasel family. It is 20 to 34 inches long and weighs 8 to 25 pounds. The natural shades of badger skin are grey, black, brown, and beige.
All have a white stripe from nose to shoulders, which is taken as a symbol of the guardian of light and knowledge of animals and the earth. The tail is short, bushy, and yellowish; the feet are dark.
The badger is a carnivore and feeds on small mammals, rodents, insects, and reptiles. Although he looks fat, he is muscular and powerful.
The outer skin is very loose; other animals have difficulty damaging it. Their jaws are powerful, symbols of powerful expression.
While old tales would have us believe that the badger is ferocious, he would somewhat retreat to a safe place, or dig a hole and hide from his attacker. However, when he is cornered and has no place to hide, the badger is a formidable adversary. He will use his claws and teeth to put up a fight.
Although badgers mate whenever they want, they only have one litter per year due to delayed implantation. They give birth in mid or late winter, between birth and between January and March. One to five babies is born at the same time in the underground chambers.
Baby badgers, like baby bears, are called puppies and remain in the delivery chamber until they are about eight weeks old, according to the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.
Mellivora capensis is the formal name of the species but is usually best known by its common name. These little monsters love sweet things. In South Africa, it is where many of these specimens reside (also in the Middle East and India). Another of their names is ratel, which is a word that could be derived from the Dutch word raat.
Here are some interesting facts about honey badgers:
- These animals reproduce a rattling sound when they are being attacked.
- They have resistance to snake venom.
- By attacking the hives, they release smoke that spreads throughout the hive.
- Attacking large animals, like lions, they head for the scrotum.
Like a warm-blooded mammal, the badger feeds on the excitement of new relationships and sexual conquests. This incorrigible flirtation is untraditional when it comes to romance. It is much more common to see a solitary badger than sharing with his partner.
Description of the honey badger:
However, when a badger is finally established, he usually mates for life and proves to be a passionate and committed companion.
Loyalty is essential to the badger and is quick to demand reciprocity. Nothing is more unpleasant than dealing with a badger who feels cheated. However, couples who manage to accept their intense nature will experience a beautiful and relentless love story.
These carnivorous personalities appreciate someone who knows how to share their virtues. When they receive attention from another of the same species, they will respond with a high level of interest.
On the other hand, badgers are often irrational by nature and may establish unthinkable links with other species, maintaining very satisfying relationships of interest. With their similar interests and common tenacious attitudes, these lovers will maintain their affection for a long time.
This species lives in the forested areas (dry and humid forests) of the Americas. They are found at any altitude from sea level at 3,000 m (9,800 feet), and from northern to southeastern Arizona and New Mexico, through Mexico and Central America, to northwestern Colombia (Urabá Gulf region, near Colombia’s border with Panama) for this reason, it is also called Mexican badger.
They are smaller than the white-nosed coatis of the adjacent continent ( N. n. Yucatanica ). When compared more broadly with the white-nosed coatis, the difference in size is not so clear. The level of other differences also supports its status as a subspecies rather than separate species.
White-nosed coatis have also been found in the U.S. state of Florida, where they are an introduced species. It is not known precisely when the introduction took place. In 1928, a specimen of a solitary Mexican badger labeled a “captive fugitive,” was presented at a Florida Museum.
There are several subsequent documented cases of coatíes escaping from captivity. Since the 1970s, there have been several sightings, and live and dead specimens of various ages have been found. These reports have occurred in a large area of South Florida, and there is probable evidence of reproduction, indicating that the population is well established.
The South American badger is omnivorous and prefers small vertebrates, fruits, carrion, insects, snakes, and eggs. They can easily climb trees, where the tail is used to maintain balance, but often feed on the ground.
Its predators include boas, birds of prey, hunting cats, and Tayras (Eira barbara). They adapt quickly to human presence; like raccoons, they will attack camps and garbage bins. They can be easily domesticated and have been experimentally proven to be quite intelligent.
While the raccoon is nocturnal, it is common to see the solitary Mexican badger active during the day. It retreats at night to a specific tree and descends at dawn to begin the search for food.
Information Report: Coati, the Mexican badger:
However, their habits are adjustable. In areas where humans hunt them for food, or where they assault human settlements for their food, they may become more nocturnal.
The adult males of this species are solitary, although females and sexually immature males tend to group, communicating through sounds. After mating, the gestation lasts about 65 days, and the female can have from 2 to 6 specimens of baby Mexican badger or what would be Nasua Narica puppies.
In order to receive her offspring, the female builds a refuge species with leaves and branches that will serve to receive her offspring. After birth, every Mexican baby badger will remain in that shelter for the next six weeks. During the search for food, a pair of “nannies” take care of the young, as do the Suricata.
American badgers are mammals that are designed to dig. They move dirt faster than any other mammal, including a person with a shovel. Strong shoulders, sturdy claws, and partial straps between their first fingers allow them to remove the soil quickly.
They are naturally protected from dirt in the air by transparent membranes that protect your eyes and stiff hairs that keep your ear canals clean. They use their back feet to kick loose dirt out of the way.
Badgers dig for prey and then expand tunnels in burrows to sleep. He is a solitary badger, has a keen sense of smell, and is more active at night than during the day.
Eurasian badgers (Meles meles) are widespread throughout the Palearctic region. They are present from the west of Ireland and Spain to the eastern borders of Russia, China, and Japan. The northern limit of the Eurasian badger range extends to the Russian Arctic Circle and Finland, and the southern limit occurs along the south-eastern coast of China.
Where do european badgers live?
Eurasian badgers are highly adaptable and live in a wide variety of environments. Ideal habitat includes deciduous, coniferous, or mixed forests adjacent to open fields.
Also, they may occupy hedgerows, shrublands, and riparian habitats, as well as agricultural land, pastures, steppes, and semi-deserts. When looking for a fixed location, they prefer areas covered with trees, shrubs, and rocks that will cover the entrance to their sett.
Other favorable settlement conditions include well-drained soils that are easy to excavate and relatively free of human disturbance. They also prefer areas with a moderately humid climate and rich pastures, as these are the optimal conditions for worms, one of their main prey. The average elevation for Eurasian badgers is 1000 meters.
Characteristics of the Eurasian badger
These badger species have a robust body with short, muscular limbs and a short tail. The female mass ranges from 6.6 to 13.9 kg, and the male mass ranges from 9.1 to 16.7 kg. Males and females do not differ in head length, which ranges from 56 cm to 90 cm.
The length of the tail varies from 11.5 cm to 20.2 cm. The distinctive skin characteristics of the Eurasian badger with dark stripes running from the nose, through the eyes and down to each ear, making them mainly well known. A white medial stripe separates these two dark stripes.
The dorsal coat is gray, and each hair is white at the base and darker at the tip. Venter’s coat tends to be dark grey or black. Their skulls are heavy, with a prominent sagittal ridge and short. Eurasian Badgers have flattened molars, small incisors, and prominent canines, their teeth are very suitable for an omnivorous diet.
Throughout their geographical range, Eurasian badgers are divided into 24 subspecies, eleven of which can be found in the former Soviet Union. The subspecies generally differ from each other in general color tone and often in general dimensions, skull size, upper molar shape, and the presence of premolars. However, most of these features are not well defined.
European badgers are generally polygynous. For those who live in social groups, there is only one dominant male and female partner. Males do not defend access to females from the estrus of other males but spend much more energy protecting the group from possible predators, such as African lions. Extra-group mating occurs frequently.
Females can announce estrus to males of other groups through odor marking. Often, males expand territory ranges during the breeding season in an attempt to include more females within their territories, thus increasing the number of mating.
Eurasian badgers breed all year round. However, most reproduction occurs during late winter or early spring (February to May) and late summer or early autumn (August to October). Gestation lasts from 9 to 12 months, and litters range from 1 to 6 puppies, with an average of 3.
The average birth weight of Eurasian badgers is 75 grams. Puppies leave their dens about 8-10 weeks after birth. On average, pups are weaned at 2.5 months, and male and female Eurasian badgers reach sexual maturity about a year after birth.
Behaviour of the European badger
Compared to most other Mustelidae species where images of solitary badgers are common, Eurasian badgers are quite gregarious. Social groups can have between 2 and 23 members.
The average group consists of 1 to 6 adults and their descendants, and the size of the group depends on the quality and abundance of the food resource. Social behavior in Eurasian badgers may be due to instability in food availability and feeding conditions.
In social populations, each group contains a single dominant reproductive pair that performs most reproductive efforts. However, when resources are abundant, other individuals tend to reproduce, as well. There is no hierarchy after the dominant breeding pair, although dominant males have the most extensive individual territories.
Badgers in low-density populations tend to be more solitary, while badgers in high-density populations tend to live in groups. Food availability also influences the sociability of these animals. When food availability is low, clan badgers may return to more antisocial behavior.
Earthworms are a significant source of Eurasian badger food, and many aspects of badger behavior revolve around reaching them. Eurasian badgers eat multiple species of worms.
When looking for earthworms, they remain in a relatively small space (about one hectare). They grab their prey using their incisors, and if the worm breaks into multiple pieces, they find and eat the remaining pieces.
Eurasian badgers are lonely explorers, regardless of social structure. In addition to earthworms, they also take advantage of rabbits, field mice, shrews, moles, mice, rats, and hedgehogs.
They also feed on a wide variety of giant insects, including beetles, caterpillars, and wasps. They target wasps, particularly by eating their nests. In this sense, wasps are consumed by badgers seasonally and in large volumes.
Eurasian badgers also eat carrion and occasionally eat birds, fish frogs, newts, lizards, slugs, and snails. They also feed on more than 30 different types of fruit, including pears, plums, raspberries, cherries, strawberries, acorns, and blackberries.
Some cereals they eat include corn, oats, wheat, and occasionally barley. Badgers also eat tubers and occasionally mushrooms.
They are generalist carnivores with an extensive diet. More than sixty prey species were recorded in the southern Kalahari alone. African badgers eat a large number of small foods such as insect larvae, beetles, scorpions, lizards, rodents, and birds.
They will catch giant reptiles such as iguanas, crocodiles (1 meter), and pythons (3 meters) and include the highly poisonous snakes, cobras, and black mamba on their summer menu. Larger mammals such as the polecat and in particular juvenile foxes, jackals, antelopes, and wild cats are also captured.
They locate their prey predominantly by their keen sense of smell and trap most of their prey through excavation. Up to fifty holes can be dug in a single feeding period. They can also cover distances exceeding 40 kilometers in 24 hours.
African badgers are consummate climbers and can quickly climb to the highest branches of trees to attack bird nests or beehives. In the Kalahari, several nests of birds of prey have been attacked, including the lizard goshawk, which is often seen in association with badgers.
They have always been associated with honey, but it is the highly nutritious bees that eat it. While bees are not a necessary part of their diet, they will do their best to attack hives in search of offspring when they are available. Badgers will also unearth larvae belonging to solitary bee species.
African badgers generally hunt alone. They find food by walking slowly and continuously following the mouse trail and small reptile holes. In the southern Kalahari, badgers change from predominantly nocturnal in summer and diurnal in winter. However, in areas where they are affected by human activities, they are usually nocturnal.
Basic characteristics of the African badger
These badgers have a body length of between 60 and 77 cm (23.5 to 30 inches), a tail length of between 20 and 30 cm (8-12 inches), and weigh between 7 and 13 kg (15 to 29 lbs). They have a sturdy structure and are silver-grey on top of the head, back and tail, and black elsewhere.
Little is known about the reproduction of the African badger. They have a litter of 1 to 4 offspring, and the female moves into a new burrow every 2 to 5 days. The young venture into the outside world from the age of 3 months and have almost their full adult size at 8 months of age. They tend to stay with their mother for more than a year before dispersing.
The African badger has no natural predators. They have a reputation for being brave, and few animals will get into a fight with a fully developed adult.
Wombats are a family of badgers; in fact, they belong to the same species, short-legged muscular marsupials and native to Australia. They are mainly nocturnal, emerging at night to feed on herbs, bark, and roots.
There are three species of wombat: the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus) is the most numerous and widespread and has an uncovered nose. The Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii) and the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) are distinguished by their hairy noses, softer coat, and larger ears.
They grow to about 40 inches long and can weigh between 44 and 77 pounds. They are unusual, even for marsupials.
The characteristics of these particular creatures are described below:
- Resistance: Although they look plump and slow, wombats can run up to 25 miles per hour and maintain that speed for a minute and a half.
- Excavation: The wombats are adapted for digging. Their barrel-shaped bodies and their wide, strong feet with long claws allow them to dig extensive tunnel and camera systems. A wombat can move up to three feet of land in a single day.
- Rear bag : Like other marsupials, wombats give birth to an underdeveloped, small baby that crawls into its mother’s bag to grow and develop even further. But wombat bags have a marked difference: they are placed backward, opening towards the back of the mother rather than towards her head. This allows you to dig without putting dirt in your bag.
- Metabolism: A wombat needs up to 14 days to digest a meal. This slow metabolism helps them in their warm, dry habitat.
- Teeth: The incisors of the Wombat, as in rodents, grow continuously. To keep them under control, wombats gnaw at the bark and dense vegetation.
- Eear defense: One of the primary defenses of the wombat is its hardened back, which is composed mainly of cartilage. When it is threatened, it throws itself headlong into a tunnel, blocking the entrance with its group. This firm butt and the lack of a significant tail make it difficult for a predator to grasp.
- Aggressiveness: They defend the home territories around their burrows and may become aggressive with intruders.
- Feces: The stools are square. They mark their territories when defecating, and the shape of their poop is believed to prevent it from rolling. Particular bones on their backs allow them to squeeze and form their feces into cubes.
- Origin: An ancestor of today’s wombats was a giant the size of a rhinoceros that lived during the Ice Age. It is believed that the ancient aborigines hunted the giant wombat.
Wombats are large, robust, wide-headed, short-legged, dominant burrowing herbivores. The ears are small, and the tail insignificant. Characteristics are so similar that they have been considered Australian badgers.
There are only three living species of wombats. However, the family was more diverse in the Pleistocene (about two million years ago), when it was represented by a total of six genera and nine species.
Some of the extinct species were much larger than the living species. Phascalonus gigas, for example, had a skull 16 inches (40 cm) long and may have been approximately 39.4 inches (1 m) tall and weighed 441 lb (200 kg).
Description of the Wombat, Australian badger
Whether these giant wombats dug burrows is unknown. They do not seem to have been as well adapted to dig as their living relatives, and they can only have dug short burrows to rest.
The first fossil wombats are from the early Miocene. The Wombats emerged from the same population that produced kangaroos and possums, and their closest living relative is the koala.
The three living species of wombats are similar in size, and all have the same robust body shape. The two hairy-nosed wombats (Lasiorhinus) differ from the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus) by having a hairy cover over the urinary.
They also have longer, pointed ears, and a thinner coat. Hairy-nosed wombats are silver-grey, but the common wombat varies from pale grey to deep brown. Males and females are similar in appearance.
The skeletal characters of wombats are very suitable for digging. In particular, the chest cavity is heavy and robust, and the humerus is broad and massive. This makes the forearms very powerful, and the forelegs are broad and have sharp claws.
Wombats are produced in southeastern Australia and are widespread in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and southern Australia. The northern hairy nose wombat (L. krefftii) is found just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, and the southern hairy nose wombat (L. latifrons) has isolated populations in Western Australia.
Wombats dig by scratching with their forelegs and throwing dirt behind them; piled-up soil crawls out of the burrow as the animal retreats through the entrance. Wombat burrows can be huge. They may consist of 98 feet (30 m) or more in tunnel length and have several entrances, as well as side tunnels and resting chambers.
The furry-nosed southern wombat burrows are particularly complex, and probably the same labyrinth will be used and expanded by many generations of wombats.
The tunnels are wide enough to accommodate an adult human and no reasonable person would run the risk of crawling through a burrow. A 15-year-old boy explored many burrows in the common wombat in 1960 and wrote his observations in a now famous article in his school magazine.
Specimens usually feed on their own, but in the furry-nosed southern wombat many individuals can share the same labyrinth.
Similarly, in the hairy northern snout wombat burrows there are groups of up to 12 wombats that make common use of each group of burrows. However, even when two members use the same burrow, they appear to occupy different sections of it.
Wombats are specialized herbivores. They have open teeth that grow throughout life, compensating for tooth wear caused by eating abrasive herbs. The jaws are huge and offer short, powerful chewing blows that reduce their fibrous food to small particles.
The gut capacity is large, and the colon expands to host microorganisms that digest cellulose. Food is held in the intestine for extended periods (approximately 70 hours) to maximize fiber breakdown.
They feed mainly at night and rest in their burrows during the day. Their burrows provide shelter from predators such as dingoes and also protection from extreme temperatures and dry conditions.
Wombats have low basal metabolic rates, along with the low speed of passage of food through the intestine and the efficiency with which they digest their food. This means that they spend less time feeding than other herbivores their body size and can afford to spend most of their time in their burrows.
Their distribution areas are small for a herbivore of their body size, usually less than 49 acres (20 ha).
The single brood is born after a gestation of approximately 22 days and remains in the bag for six to nine months. It remains dependent on its mother for at least one year after leaving the bag.
Wombats have bags that open backward. There is no evidence of peer linkage and possibly competition between males for the opportunity to mate with females, but details of this are not known.
- Physical characteristics: 35-45 inch (90-115 cm) head and body. The tail length of approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm). Height about 14.2 inches (36 cm). Weight 48.5-86 lb (22-39 kg). Thick black or brown to gray coat. Muzzle bare, ears short and rounded.
- Distribution: South East Australia, including Flinders Island and Tasmania.
- Habitat: Temperate forests, heathlands, alpine habitats.
- Behavior: Lonely, and mostly nocturnal. Burrows are scattered, and generally straightforward. Each animal uses several burrows within its home range.
Burrows are distributed in loose groups, and up to 12 wombats make common use of burrows in each group. However, individuals generally feed and rest alone, except for mothers and youngsters.
Piles of manure and urine splashes are placed outside burrow entrances and along regularly used paths that connect different burrows within a group.