A survey and critical review of wombat diets in captivity

Hayley J. Stannard, Katherine Purdy, Julie M. Old

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Much of the literature on wombat diet is concerned only with the broad categories of consumed matter, and there is little about their specific nutritional requirements despite diet playing a major role in health. This study gathered information by surveying zoological parks and wildlife carers about current feeding regime, diet and the prevalence of nutritional or dental disorders of wombats held in captivity, with the aim of improving the diets of captive wombats, thus their health and welfare outcomes. Data on the composition, variation and basis of diets for 31 bare-nosed or common wombats (Vombatus ursinus) and 19 southern hairy-nosed wombats (Lasiorhinus latifrons) were gathered from 13 facilities. The nutritional values of diets fed to wombats in captivity were calculated and compared with known dietary requirements for bare-nosed wombats. Results demonstrate that the current diet of wombats held in captivity often consists of a high portion of fruits, vegetables and livestock feed, with the fruit and vegetable portions providing higher levels of simple carbohydrates and starch compared with natural grass diets. Generally, the facilities are providing diets that are exceeding reported maintenance energy and nitrogen requirements. Due to a lack of details provided regarding quantity and species of grasses fed, we could not provide an accurate ration calculation for the proportion of grasses in the diets. Some of the health concerns noted included insufficient weight gain, endoparasites, malocclusion and insufficient tooth wear. Further research is required to assess the requirements of reproductive, lactating and juvenile wombats; however, it is clear that wombats in captivity need to be fed larger volumes and varieties of grasses, forbs and sedges than they are currently being fed to maintain good health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-71
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Mammalogy
Issue number1
Early online date07 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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