Today’s Word of the Day is wombat because why not?
Wombats, the common, the southern hairy-nosed, and the northern hairy-nosed, live in Australia with their marsupial cousins (quick—name two marsupials).
Wombats have terrible vision. They are nocturnal, live underground, and are mostly solitary, which means there’s not much to see. Which may be why wombat optometry never really caught on.
Wombats are reasonably big—they can weigh up to 88 pounds (maybe there’s a rule that says they can’t go to 89?).
If absolutely necessary (and by “absolutely necessary” I mean “Seriously Absolutely”) wombats can run. Very, very fast. Faster than all but the fastest humans. (And by “fastest human” I mean a toddler trying to avoid naptime.) Specifically, wombats can run up to 25 miles per hour which is pretty speedy (Usain Bolt has been clocked at 28 mph but he didn’t keep it up very far).
Running might be fun for some humans (present author not included) but as far as wombats go, sleeping, eating, and pooping (we’ll get back to the pooping) are much more fun. Which makes wombats equivalent to college students on the weekend.
They can also jump. None have been recruited to the NBA because they have terrible ball handling skills.
Wombats have tough backsides (and, yes, by “backside” I mean buttocks). To defend itself, a wombat will leap (with all the grace of a nearly blind, 88 pound sack of potatoes) into a burrow and block the entrance with its tushy.
If you’ve ever studied Australian wildlife, you’ll know that there is an abundance of predators with lots of sharp teeth and toes and whatnot, and you’ve got to be pretty darn tough of tush to expose your backside to all that predator-ness.
Back to the poop, which may be the most interesting thing about wombats (never thought I’d say that, did you?).
Wombats poop cubes. Not because they have tough backsides. And not because they have play-doh-like square sphincters.
Wombats have perhaps the driest poop on the planet. Their digestive process takes 14-18 days which allows most of the nutrients and water to be absorbed (this is good for the wombat). The highly dry poop and lack of rectal muscle contraction mean (you guessed it) cube-y poopy.
Like many other animals, wombats leave poop lying around for a variety of reasons. Poop explains a lot about who the poop-leaver is. If you are well-versed in these things (and wombats are) you can write a thesis about the poop-leaver’s gender, health, age, recent dietary changes, and feelings about reality TV. You can also tell that there is a wombat around and perhaps you ought to leave the territory and build your own warren elsewhere.
Wombats like to be left alone. And poop is an excellent way to say “get thee gone.”
Wombats like to put their poop out like billboards. And they like their poopbillboards to be highly visible (emphasis on high). So they put their poopy pellets on top of rocks or logs (or billboards if they happen to find one). The cube shape keeps the poop from rolling off its perch.
Aren’t you glad today’s word of the day is wombat?
Koalas and Kangaroos are both marsupials, proving that being a marsupial increases your cuteness factor by 1000%. Which leads to the following beauty tip: If you’re not cute enough, grow a pouch.