Who would have a thunk a tiny short-legged quadrupedal marsupial of Australia would have been saluted as the 'Super Hero of the Bushfires.' Weighing in at 55lbs on average and only 40 inches maximum in length, wombats from down under has risen up and over, as unlikely champions of fellow beasts.
For non-Australians, it's sort of a marsupial mix of mouse and panda. Wombats are herbivorous burrowers with subdermal armor covering their posterior to defeat predators.
Mi Casa Su Casa
Quite generously, wombats have reportedly have laid down the 'welcome mat' for other Australian animals to take refuge in their habitat, as they try to avoid the blazes that threaten themselves along the coast of New South Wales. Complex underground tunnels, created by wombats, have served as safehavens for other species like wallabies and echidnas. These underground dwellings allow both wombats and their new BFFs to survive an otherwise tragic outcome.
When Peter Hylands, a documentary filmmaker visited the fires that severely damaged the Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary, he reported: “You’ve got animals that are completely unscathed and those must be the animals that have been under the ground, it’s the only explanation when the fire zones are so extensive.”
His sentiment was reinforced by Wombat Rescue manager Yolandi Vermaak, who said, “At most, there would be animals fleeing into burrows. I’ve seen echidnas going into burrows — lizards, and skinks, rabbits — those sort of things. I have even seen a small wallaby.”
Survival of the fittest . . .
Vermaak also stated she hasn’t seen a single burnt wombat during her rescue missions, and instead has discovered a series of survivors — wombats and several other species — hiding in the tunnels.
When the fires are eventually extinguished, hopefully wombats get the praise they deserve — both from the people of Australia and their fellow members of the animal kingdom.
Digger, the Wombat
Graphic novelist Ursula Vernon pre-dates the bushfires with her webcomic "Digger," launched March 18, 2003 and receiving a Hugo Award in 2012. Nonetheless, coincidentally, in this prescient series, she anthropomorphizes a wombat as a blue collar, salt-of-the-earth digger of tunnels. She's resonable, grounded ethically and exerts a diligent amount of hard work.
Similar to the real-life wombats that are welcoming other species into their tunnels, Digger always attempts to help strangers even if that offering involves imminent danger.
Remember Tunnel 17
However, on occasion, hero Digger has been known to engage in hand-to-hand combat with nefarious species, unknown in real-life.
For instance, at the Battle between the Quartclawsand vs. the Underhews, Digger was known to fight over "a particularly promising vein of Bauxite." While no one can remember who won that confrontation, the battle cry "Remember Tunnel 17" has been a favored repetitive trope, ever since.
Seems like the real-life version of wombats like Digger are alive and well in Australia fighting the good cause against predators and bushfires. Hoorah to the wombats who have opened up their homes and hearth to the less-fortuned species, who may have perish with out the kindness of wombats.
Primary Source: Daily Mail