Wombats are short-legged solitary and nocturnal marsupials native to Australia, living in underground burrows during the day but coming out at night to forage on grasses and other vegetation.
These beautiful creatures sleep a lot; an average of 16 hours per day.
As wombats are nocturnal, they have very poor eyesight, so they rely on their sense of smell to navigate and find food.
Did you know that wombats are the only known animals in the world producing cube-shaped poop?
Wombats can pass up to 100 deposits of poop a night.
It has been long speculated that wombats produce these poop bricks and stack them, preventing the pieces from rolling away, as a unique way of marking their territory.
National Geographic reports that Mike Swinbourne, a wombat expert at the University of Adelaide in Australia, says: “While wombats do use their scat to mark territory it's not like they're trying to build little brick pyramids. They just poop where they poop.”
Instead, Swinbourne says the poop shape is more likely related to the dry environments that most wombats live in.
Patricia Yang is a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology who specializes in bodily fluids.
In early 2018, she and her colleagues got ahold of wombat innards for their study.
They examined the intestines of two roadkill wombats.
Yang said: “At first I thought they maybe have square anus, or maybe [the cube] forms right around the stomach.”
National Geographic reports that Yang said: “As food is digested it moves through the gut, and pressure from the intestine helps sculpt the feces – meaning that the shape of the intestine will affect the shape of a dropping.”
National Geographic continues: “So Yang and the team expanded both wombat and pig intestines with a balloon to measure and compare their elasticities (or stretchiness).
The pig intestine had a relatively uniform elasticity, which would explain the animal’s rounder poo. The wombat intestines, however, had a much more irregular shape.”