Friday, 9 August 2013

Bulldozers of the Bush

image courtesy of JK Melville

The other day, I met a lovely local lady who is an Australian Wildlife Carer. And, to my delightful surprise, I also met three of her orphaned “charges”… baby Bare-nosed or Common Wombats!
Although, there’s nothing common about these fascinating marsupials*. They are unusual, unique and beautiful.

These little cuties are all around eight months old, and have their own distinct personality! 

This is the first time I have ever seen a wombat face to face, let alone been able to pet and hold one after I had happily snapped away on my camera. And what a privilege it was.

Check out these little guys, aren't they adorable?

None of these cuties are related, but they are more than content to play with, and then snuggle up to, each other in fleecy pouches hanging from their baby cot :)

C'mon out and play!

Awww, snuggle time.

Common wombats are one of three species of wombats, and are only found in southern and eastern parts of Australia, including Tasmania. They prefer cool forested, rocky/mountainous regions.
And, I'm happy to say that I now live in "wombat country".
I have seen a couple of adults ambling into the undergrowth on our walks and drives at dusk, but they are pretty elusive.

The adults are incredibly strong, stout and built close to the ground. They grow to between 90-120cm (35-48 inches) in length and some males can weigh up to 35kg (78lbs).
At these sizes, they can manoeuvre their way through most obstacles, earning them the nick name, “bulldozers of the bush”.

These claws will only get stronger and tougher – perfectly designed for burrowing into hard earth.

You can read more interesting facts on these amazing animals here

On one hand, it is a joy and a treat to be able to have the opportunity to cuddle with these wild creatures of the Australian bush. But sadly, on the other, it means that their mother has been killed.

Wombats come out of their burrows at twilight to roam and forage. Although they can be fairly quick, on the road, they are no match for trucks or fast cars.
Fortunately, there are good samaritans who, on seeing a dead wombat (or wallaby or roo) by the road, stop to check to see if it is a female, and if there is the chance of a baby in her pouch.

If there is, they can call the experts.

There are bright yellow reflective road signs throughout the countryside that have “injured wildlife” 24 hr emergency numbers to ring if one comes across, or unfortunately hits, an animal.
These will be directed to wildlife rescue and carers on call.

It's a good idea that people enter these numbers into their mobile phones, just in case.

I have a lot of admiration for the carers of orphaned wildlife. They dedicate their lives, day and night, to rearing them. Giving them a second chance, so that most can be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

Many years ago, a tiny orphan kangaroo was handed to us by a vet nurse.
With diligence and care, we hand-reared her successfully until she was old enough to be returned to a national wildlife park.

Sometime after that, the ranger of the area, who we'd kept in touch with from time to time, told us that he'd seen "Cleo" with a joey in her pouch.
There's something incredibly satisfying about knowing she was well and had assimilated with her own mob.

I understand, if only just a little, the huge task it is to care for more than one tiny creature who relies on constant feeds and complete care.

But, the rewards are ten-fold.

So, here’s to uniquely beautiful wildlife the world over, and to their devoted guardian angels – the wildlife carers.


*Marsupial - a group of mammals that give birth to their young at an early stage of their development. After birth, the young crawl up the mother's body and into the safety of her pouch located on the abdomen.


  1. Huge smiles. We have the WIRES numbers in our phones - and so admire the work that they do, while regretting its necessity.
    And wombats are soooo cute. Have you come across Jacquie French's books about them? I have sent them to my great-nephews in California where wombat converts have been made.

    1. Hi EC. Yes, I think it's important for all Aussies who travel in country and outer suburbs to have a wildlife rescue number in their phones.

      I haven't read Jackie's wombats book. I remember her from Burke's Backyard years ago, and loved her then.
      I will go and check it out - thanks for telling me :)

  2. OMG, tooo CUTE... I think I'm gonna cry for all the cuteness! What sweet little snugglers they are... But look at those nails/claws! Being a wildlife care-giver must be one of the best jobs on the planet. :o) Thanks so much for sharing this wonder with us, Vicki! Happy Days ((HUGS))

    1. Hi Tracy. They are so sweet aren't they?
      I do think that wildlife carers have such rewarding jobs - but also heartbreaking.

      So glad you liked these cuties :)

  3. Those babies are soooo cute! And I'm glad they're being cared for, wildlife carers are doing great work.
    The claws are seriously impressive, I wish my fingernails were half as strong.

    1. Hi River, yes, these babies have a wonderful "mumma" to care for them.

  4. What incredibly sweet and soulful looking babies! What a gift to have a chance to hold them and observe lovingly close. Wildlife carers do a great service to us all....

    1. They are soulful Charlene :) There's something incredibly humbling about holding and caring for a creature from the wild.
      The trust they have when they seem to know they need help.

  5. I've never seen a baby Wombat before, thank you for posting the photos of them! They're so cute I nearly kissed my computer screen and I've fallen in love. The first photo really shows why they're called "the bulldozers of the bush."

    It's great that there are signs posted all over giving the numbers to call for help for injured wildlife. I wish the United States had a program like that. We have various wildlife rescue organizations here in these mountains, and I know other areas of California do too, but it would be wonderful to have a country-wide organization.

    How lucky you are to have had the opportunity to raise a baby kangaroo! It must have been hard to part with her when that time came, even though you knew it was the best thing for her. I'm happy that she went on to live a good kangaroo life...bless you!


    1. They are "kissable" aren't they Victoria! And solid, cuddly little balls of mini-muscle to hold. Awesome little characters.

      Is there any way that the community can petition local government bodies to allow road signs with carer/organisations' numbers?
      I know it would take time and commitment to get it through, but worth it.
      I'm not sure how things work in the US, but perhaps public pressure (maybe around election time) could make things happen?

      It was so lovely to know that Cleo found her place in a mob and went on to raise her own wee baby joeys :)
      And yes, it was very hard saying goodbye - watching her bound away forever. But, that's the lot of a carer - temporary guardians.

  6. Ohhhh!!! They're so beautiful!! I love the sleepy looks on their faces!

    I agree, what an awesome and selfless thing to do. You have to be connected to the land to do that sort of thing, don't you. I love that picture of you and Cleo. Really must be amazing to know you played such a big part in her having babies of her own.

    I saw a roo driving home on the Belgrave-Hallam Road last night, and you know I didn't even think to stop and see if there was a joey in its pouch? Thanks for the reminder; I shall endeavour to do that next time.

    Yay for wombat country! :)

    1. They really are the cutest little dudes!

      Cleo was a beautiful girl and I'm so glad she had the chance to grow and have her own joeys :)

      Sue, you might also be interested to know that if you see a dead wombat/wallaby/roo off the roadside that has been spray painted - marked - it means that they have been "checked" by a ranger or carer to see if a baby is in the pouch. FYI :)

    2. Ahh, thanks for that :)

  7. Back again to see about your and your baby kangaroo! Oh, my goodness how sweet... And what a special, beautiful privilege it must be to care for a wild animal, then to know later that it has assimilated back into the wild successfully. This has been something extraordinary to see/know more about, Vicki--do glad you shared! :o) ((HUGS))

    1. Ahh, thanks Tracy. I'm glad I added it too. It was such a buzz to finally find the pic of Cleo & me. She was a lovely, lovely girl :)

  8. this so touched my heart.
    sometimes my love for animals is so great that i feel actual pain it seems!
    i've only rescued tiny wild animals. and few of those. no opportunities much. mostly dogs have been my rescues and some cats.
    but to save a little joey like you did . . . or those who saved these baby wombats! oh my goodness v.
    and i love your picture with cleo by the way. just how i'd think you'd look. and i know! it was years ago. but still that smile.
    and that glorious hair!!! LOL.
    these pictures of the babies are a treat. and to know that Australia takes such care to save and protect her wildlife like that. nowhere in this country do you see signs like that! amazingly wonderful. does my heart good. xoxo

  9. oh my gosh.
    just like tracy...
    i had to come back and see them again!
    only thing better than those adorable babies would be a picture of my beloved blue boy jack! XOXOX thank you for this uplifting post dear one!

    1. Thanks for coming back again Tam!
      Rescuing any animal, wild or domestic, is a valued and wonderful deed :)

      I wish there would be 24 hour wildlife assistance numbers available the world over. I'm sure that every country has people who are willing to dedicate their time to such worthy causes like their country's animals.

      So glad everyone loves the pics of these cute wombats - it's so easy to fall in love with these little "dozers" :)

  10. Adorable, indeed! Thank you. xxxj


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