Safe Haven's Tina Janssen has been keeping wombats as part of a captive breeding program, affiliated with University of Queensland.
Safe Haven's Tina Janssen has been keeping wombats as part of a captive breeding program, affiliated with University of Queensland. Paul Braven GLA140717WOMBAT

Rare wombats will be the stars at Mount Larcom

TINA Janssen has nearly two dozen wombats at the Safe Haven project near Mount Larcom but she is hoping for some more, rather special ones to join them soon.

The northern hairy nosed wombat is endangered throughout Australia and was actually thought to be extinct in the early 20th century. Its total numbers are estimated to be in the low hundreds.

Ms Janssen hopes a small number of the endangered wombats will be housed at the Safe Haven Sanctuary before the end of this year.

There are three wombat facilities at the Australian Animals Care and Education Safe Haven project. Two of them are used to house southern hairy nosed wombats and common wombats. But the third facility is empty awaiting the arrival of the rare northern hairy nosed variety.

Ms Janssen and her team of volunteers and researchers have been learning all they can about the behaviour of the southern hairy nosed wombat.

They hope that the data they have collected on the southern wombat can be used to help understand its northern cousin.

"We actually know very little about the northern (wombat) and we'll (need to) repeat all non-invasive research," Ms Janssen said.

The northern hairy nosed wombat numbers went into decline in the 1900s, long before their habits could be fully researched. To compound this problem wombats are notoriously shy, nocturnal animals and, given their burrowing tendencies, it can be incredibly hard to collect information on them in the wild.

At Safe Haven the team has solved the problem of keeping an animal that likes to make burrows up to 20m long in captivity.

"Each den system, which may hold one or two animals, has their own yard and under the fence line is mesh which prevents (the wombat) from going to the fence and digging out and each wombat has a dirt mound so they can go and dig," Ms Janssen said.

A big reason wombats burrow is to achieve temperature control. They like to be about 24 degrees.

Importantly the facility is air-conditioned and temperatures are kept at 24 degrees.

"This means the wombats don't have a need to waste energy burrowing into the ground to get those temperatures," Ms Janssen said.