Pity the poor northern hairy nosed wombat. Unlike my last creature - the mosquito - the hairy nosed wombat (known to his pals as the HNW) is crtitically endangered. And he hasn't done anything to hurt anyone, being in appearance rather like an oddly misshappen teddy bear.
Yep the HNW is this year's must-have fasion accessory. Paris Hilton would have one, but she's last year's fashion accessory so who cares. At least the HNW would be the hot ticket item if you could get your paws on the northern variety for love or money.
There are, in fact, three types of wombat. The northern hairy-nosed wombat is similar to the southern hairy-nosed wombat, but hangs out up north instead of down south and its nose isn't as long. It's still hairy, though. And by oop north I'm talking about northern Austrialia. The other species in the Vombatidae family, the common wombat, has longer ears and, funnily enough, has managed to find itself some nose haired clippers. The common wombat is distinguished from both types of hairy nosed wombats in that it has a bald nose ie. it's not hairy. I feel I am over laboring this point.
Northern hairy-nosed wombats can grow up to 35 cm high, and can be a meter long and weigh up to 40 kg. The females are slightly bigger than the males because they have an extra layer of fat. The northern hairy-nosed wombat's nose is said to be very important for its survival because they have very poor eyesight so they can smell their food in the dark. It can take a northern hairy nose a full day to dig a burrow, which makes me think they should be employed by Virginia Department of Transportation.
Sadly the HNW doesn't have a much of a nose for survival. Its numbers are presently restricted to one place, the Epping Forest National Park in Queensland. In 2003 the total population copmprised just 113 hairy nosed individuals, including only around 30 breeding females.
Opinions differ as to why the northern hairy nose is facing tough times. The Queensland Department of the Environment says: "It might have already been in decline when Europeans settled, and was probably the least common of the three wombat species at that time.
"Since then, competition for food from introduced grazing animals, such as sheep, cattle and rabbits - particularly during droughts – has been the main reason for the species rapid decline since European arrival in Australia."
So yeah - basically you can blame the Europeans again...
Useless Fact about the Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat
You know when you cough politely when someone is in your way. Well while much communication between wombats occurs through olfaction and scent marking, wombats will emit rough coughing noises when they waddle past each other.
What Not To Say to a Hairy Nosed Wombat
Fancy a hairy nosed barbie Bruce?