Wombat (Phascolomys Wombat Per. And Les), a herbivorous marsupial mammal, inhabiting New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, and the small islands in Bass straits. The generic name means pouched rat; it is also called badger by the colonists from its burrowing habits, and ursine opossum from its resemblance to a small bear. In the teeth and gnawing propensities it greatly resembles a rodent animal, the incisors being two in each jaw, long and chisel-like; canines wanting, leaving a considerable gap between the incisors and molars; the latter are rootless, with flat crowns surrounded by enamel, there being a deep furrow down the inside of the upper and outside of the lower ones; the whole number of teeth is 24; the body of the atlas remains permanently cartilaginous, the ribs are 15 or 16 pairs, the humerus has an opening between the condyles and the inner one perforated, and the patella is absent; there is a short caecum and vermiform appendage. It is 2 or 3 ft. long, plump, with a thick coat of long, grayish brown, woolly hair; head large, wide, flat, and rabbit-like, with upper lip cleft, and small eyes and ears; legs short and nearly equal, and the feet live-toed, all except the small inner one of the hind feet with long claws; tail half an inch, nearly naked.
The animal walks on the soles, which are broad and naked. It is nocturnal and slow-moving, living in holes among the rocks or in burrows dug by itself; the food consists of grass and roots; it is easily domesticated, and has three or four young at a birth. In the mountainous districts near Port Jackson its flesh is preferred to that of all other animals of Australia. Remains of a fossil species have been found in the caves at Wellington valley, Australia.
Wombat (Phascolomys wombat).