Physical structure of warrens of a small colony of Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats Lasiorhinus latifrons

V. R. Steele, P. D. Temple-Smith

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Twelve warrens used by a small colony of Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats Lasiorhinus latifrons were mapped near Fowlers Bay in South Australia. Ten were excavated to document warren structure. The excavated warrens ranged in total tunnel length from 1.5 to 61.2 m and each had either one or two burrow entrances (although one unexcavated warren had 10 entrances). The area occupied by the entrance craters and associated spoil mounds ranged from 1.9 to 64.8 m2 and increased with greater burrow length. Most burrows descended rapidly to a depth of approximately 2 m, with average dimensions of 30.1±5.5 cm (height) and 39.6±3.4 cm (width), and then gradually to blind endings (maximum descended depth 340 cm). Five warrens were occupied and these were significantly different to the unoccupied warrens. In the occupied warrens the spoil mound totally encircled the entrance crater and burrows were branched and of greater total length. Four of these warrens had internal chambers with average dimensions of 79±3 cm (length), 52±13 cm (height), 57±4 cm (width), and were on average 135±29 cm below the surface. Five female wombats were captured; two that had bred recently and one sub-adult. Four of the wombats constructed loose earth plugs blocking the tunnel they occupied, which is mostl likely a defensive behaviour. Digging behaviour appeared to involve soil compaction. The structure of warrens observed at Fowlers Bay is consistent with observations made at other locations although soil type appears to influence entrance and tunnel dimensions. The warrens of Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats appear to be similar to those of Northern Hairy-nosed Wombats Lasiorhinus krefftii, even though few observations have been made for this species, but differ greatly from burrows of the Common Wombat Vombatus ursinus.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWombats
EditorsR.T. Wells, P.A. Pridmore
PublisherSurrey Beatty & Sons
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)0949324817
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1998

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