There is a lot to “dig” about these stoutly packed marsupials

wombat banner - photo 2011

These claws were made for diggin'

(and that's just what they'll do)

womona's hands and feet

Wombats like to dig, and they’re good at it. That’s why there is a chain link fence underneath the ABQ BioPark Zoo’s wombat exhibit.

These nocturnal marsupials dig tunnels that lead to burrows—they sleep inside the burrows during the day to avoid high afternoon temperatures. There is no need for burrow building at the zoo, however—male Otto has access to a chilled indoor facility on toasty days. Nonetheless, Otto still has the instinct to dig (not to mention claws made just for that), and that’s where the fencing comes in—the zoo wants to ensure that this natural behavior doesn’t assist in an escape.

Wombats are solitary and extremely territorial, but Otto has a soft spot for one companion—visitors may notice teddy bears inside his habitat. This fondness for fuzzies is a relic of his past—he was a hand-raised orphan and has always had a “baby.” Zoo docents help provide Otto with a steady supply of teddy bears.

Wombats are grazers, so staff feed Otto several times throughout the day to encourage natural behaviors. Some of Otto's menu items include kangaroo chow, sweet potatoes and carrots, hay, grasses and bamboo. Zookeepers periodically supply Otto with other fruits and vegetables as enrichment.

Did you know?

  • While they may look slow, wombats can bolt as fast as an Olympic sprinter.
  • Wombat excrement is shaped like cubes.
  • Wombats have an extremely slow metabolism and it can take up to two weeks to digest a meal.