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Wombat poop: Why are wombat poop cubes?

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Poop has taught us a few things. While it may not look or sound spectacular, it can reveal a lot about an animal's nutrition and general health, including what they ate, where they went and whether they might have contracted a disease. Examining poop has inspired many scientists to study subjects you didn't even realize needed solutions. Wombats are mammals whose droppings seem to defy physics. A marsupial, or pouch, this large, stout mammal is found throughout Australia and on several of the surrounding islands.

Like other marsupials, wombats give birth when they are young and immature, and their offspring crawl into a pouch on their mother's belly. However, wombats have much more interesting features than that. Mammalian poop has baffled scientists for years because they are the only animals on Earth that produce cubes of poop. So, what's the mystery surrounding wombat poop? Why are their poop cubes? That's what we'll find out in this article and more!

Why are wombat poop cubes?

wombat-poop-why-is-wombat-scat-cubed-1
Wombats are the only animals that defecate in lumps.

©iStock.com/sasimoto

Wombats' weird droppings have baffled many scientists over the years, and finally, they discovered that the cuboidal shapes are due to the different rates at which wombats produce their poop in the mammalian gut. According to scientists, the gut of a wombat looks like a cross-section of a rubber band, slightly taut at the ends and drooping in the middle . The scat's edge and cube shape result from different rates of contraction of the elastic and rigid components .

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Cubes may appeal to humans, but only one animal — the wombat — defecates. The marsupial's ability to squeeze out about a hundred hexagonal poops per day has long baffled biologists. Wombats do not have a round anus like other mammals, nor do they produce round pellets, tubular coils, or disorderly mounds. But scientists claim to have discovered how the guts of wombats produce this unique excrement.

Scientists analyzed a wombat that was killed by a car to solve the riddle. Scientists originally reported this in 2018, when they surveyed the gut and found two channels that make it more elastic.

The researchers examined the layers of muscle and tissue in the guts of two other wombats in their latest study, and they found areas of varying thickness and stiffness. As the intestine absorbs nutrients and water from the excrement over several days, parts of the intestine contract, compressing the waste.

The American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics has released the results of a team's investigation into the digestive system of wombats. Scientists compared the intestines of wombats and pigs by inserting a balloon into the animal's digestive system and watching how it stretched to fit the balloon. According to experts, this resulted in 2-centimeter (0.8-inch) cubes of droppings, which are only found in wombats in their natural environment.

Do wombats pile poo?

Wombats pile up their droppings.

© iStock.com/keiichihiki

Interestingly, wombats produce about 100 of these six-sided brownies a day, and they stack them on top of each other. Therefore, the cube design may make it easier for stool to accumulate. After all, rounder poop tends to roll away. Another question revolves around why they do this. Wombats use their excrement to communicate with each other because of their poor eyesight. They often poop on rocks, logs, or other raised surfaces to make their message more noticeable.

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However, this is only a theory. Another reason is that the hexagonal shape of wombat poo provides a greater surface area for the animal's scent to travel, revealing social cues or reproductive status.

What do wombats eat?

what do wombats eat
Wombats are herbivores, eating mainly native grasses.

© AZ-Animals.com

If you're concerned about the inside of a wombat's poop, there's nothing to worry about, as wombats are completely herbivorous, meaning plants make up the majority of their diet. These critters may resemble miniature bears, but lack the abilities or biological advantages needed to make them effective predators. Wombats, on the other hand, mainly eat various native grasses, as well as some roots and leaves.

Because Australia is covered by grasslands and bushland, these animals have almost constant access to food supplies. Unique to Australia, snowgrass is a hardy type known for being highly drought tolerant. They also eat herbs, fungi (such as mushrooms), grass roots, trees, shrubs, bark, shrubs, mosses, march plants, and leaves. In times of drought, wombats will dig deep in the grass to reach the grass roots for food.

Wombats have been reported to eat kangaroo grass and kangaroo grass in addition to snow grass. Tussock grasses that thrive in different parts of Australia include these grass species. Both grasses are fire-resistant, and for thousands of years, residents have processed the grains into flour and porridge.

Although they are herbivorous, wombats can take several weeks to completely digest their food because their digestive system works slowly. Wombats have strong backs that they can use to deter predators from devouring them, even if they appear to be easy targets.

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Are Wombats Good Pets?

Wombat droppings should not be a concern for you now or in the near future, as wombats were not born to be pets. As cute as they are, wombats are not ideal pets. In a zoo or sanctuary setting, they are best admired from a safe distance. Possession and distribution of koalas is now banned both inside and outside of Australia.

Are Wombats Dangerous?

Wombats are neither venomous, venomous, nor carnivorous predators, so generally speaking, they do not pose a serious threat to humans. For farmers and ranchers, wombat digging can lead to the destruction of pastures and crops. Tragically, these species are related to wildlife populations that are known to be crop and livestock killers as well as disease carriers.

Burrows, which can be complex networks of tunnels and passages with a radius of 650 feet, are home to all wombat species. Most wombats live alone, finding solace in their burrows. They mark their territory by whining at intruders, rubbing their scent on trees, and spreading cube-shaped droppings. The unusual shape of their droppings also helps them retain territorial markings.

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featured image

Are marsupials mammals?
As marsupials, wombats have a rear-facing pouch where young wombats develop. The orientation of the pouch means the wallaby is protected from dirt if the mother is digging.

© Sand Groffin/Shutterstock.com


about the author

Victor Victor


For six years, I have been a professional writer and editor of books, blogs and websites, with a particular focus on animals, technology and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with my friends.

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