Ah, wombats. The heroes that glue our animal society together.
In an epic surprise reveal, humans aren’t the only ones who suffer during a drought, and our precious wombats are helping other species hydrate during dry periods.
Selfless wombats are letting echidnas, goannas, possums, birds and emus use their burrows to find water.
Ted Finnie, a retired Taronga Zoo veterinarian, runs a beef farm south-west of Merriwa that has barely seen any rain in three years. He reports on a whopper of a hole 20 metres in diameter, which has recently grown larger as the wombats have dug deeper.
“As the crater has dried out due to the drought,” he said, “the wombats have burrowed to get closer to the water and so they’ve gone underground a little bit.”
Mr Finnie believed the well had been used by kangaroos, wallabies and wallaroos and wombats, but during the drought had become important for a larger range of animals. Echidnas, birds, goannas, possums and emus were found drinking from the burrow in a camera installed by Hunter Region Landcare.
Western Sydney University biologist Dr Julie Old refers to them as “ecological engineers,” digging burrows and making habitats for other animals.
Dr Old told ABC that the behaviour was common among these shy little cutie pies, after being contacted by someone that had noticed similar sites in Victoria.
Let’s do a quick round of applause to them for sharing their burrows and allowing their friends to get to that sweet, sweet water. Bet they have tea parties and talk about cool marsupial things.