The weaned wombat

Usually a wombat will wean itself, sometimes suddenly, and by the time it is 14 or 15 months old it is normally getting all its nourishment from grasses. The need to dig, and the urge to wander and explore beyond the

Figure 8.3 This orphan took the opportunity to have some digging practice during a supervised ramble in natural bushland.

confines of the house and garden, get stronger and stronger as it grows. No longer a cuddly bundle of complacency, the young wombat at 18 months is a hefty 15-20 kilogram package with a determination to get its own way that is awe-inspiring. The knotty problem arises: how and where do you return a hand-reared wombat to its natural environment? The decision to do so is usually made with a mixture of sadness and relief: sadness because the attachment that can, and nearly always does, form between the wombat and its human family is amazingly strong; relief because even the most devoted foster parent begins to think longingly of an uninterrupted night's sleep by the time the wombat is about 18 months old.

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