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Wombat Scats

posted 1 Mar 2017, 17:08 by Jamie Derkenne
On a holiday in Wee Jasper we stayed in a small valley that was home to a large number of wombats. We only saw two wombats in the entire week we were there, but heard many more in the middle of the night, and knew of others by the fresh scat left outside their burrows.

When I say we heard wombats, it wasn't a wombat growl or bark or anything like that - it was the sound  of them rubbing their backsides against the cladding of the house, and the stump of nearby dead tree. The rough wood, in both instances, had smooth patches where wombats over countless nights had rubbed their rumps. It almost seems that by definition, a wombat has an itchy rump.

But the intriguing thing about wombats, we discovered, is that they like to defecate on plinths, and will go to considerable lengths to do so. The plinth can be anything - a low lying branch, a stump, a rock. Sometimes the plinth is in such a position - such as halfway up a creek bank on a low hanging branch - that the only way the wombat could have reached it is climb backwards up the bank. Some of the scats showed considerable balancing skill - one effort consisted of three scats mounded pyramid like an a twig who diameter was much smaller than the scats. It was a considerable balancing achievement.

Why do wombats do this? By the amount of droppings they leave on the ground outside their burrows, it's a sure bet that it some  sort of territory marker ('this is my burrow, not yours'). By also leaving scats around in high places, they may also be using their own pong as a signal on how to get back home (wombats are nocturnal and by reputation have lousy eyesight) or as a signal to warn the competition away. Wombat droppings (faeces and urine) are very obvious and unlike that of any other animal - the scats are often cube shaped.