Wild Animals/Wombats


I would like to know if it's realistic to have a wombat as a pet. I know that it's a protected animal but I also discovered that some breeds are still being shot as vermin in Victoria, Australia. Is there any way that one could be adopted without going to jail? If so, would it be unadvisable?

I really appreciate your time and knowledge. Thank you.


Dear Mike

Thanks for your e-mail.

I have heard of many people keeping wombats as pets. Perhaps the most famous wombat keeper was Dante Gabriel Rossetti. His pet slept on a silver server on his dining table. Some people think that Lewis Carroll used Rossett's wombat as the model for his dormouse in Alice in Wonderland. There is still a byelaw prohibiting people living in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, London from keeping wombats, as Rossetti's wombat caused a lot of damage through digging holes in gardens. Wombats are considered to be affectionate and playful, but somewhat grumpy pets.

I found various sites about keeping wombats, but I was most impressed by Russell's Burrow (www.netspeed.com.au/wombadilliac/pet_wombats.htm)
Russell says that wombats do not make good pets and that it is illegal to keep a wombat as a pet throughout much of Australia. You cannot buy a pet wombat. Wombats can harm you with their teeth, claws and powerful bodies and will damage furniture and other home fittings. They have powerful claws and can gnaw through hard objects with their teeth. They could cost you a fortune and wombat-proof enclosures will not be cheap.

If you do not live in Australia, I cannot see you importing a wombat, unless you are a zoo or some other scientific institution. It is very difficult to get a licence to import Australian wildlife.

Like you, I find it strange that Australians kill kangaroos and other native animals, but will not export them, so that they can be kept in zoos etc. It doesn't make much sense.

Like Russell. i advise you not to keep a pet wombat. Hopefully, you'll be able to help wombats in some other way. Russell suggests caring for wombats before they can be released back into the wild. You could also adopt a wombat at a zoo or support an appropriate charity.

There are still a few people who ask for wombats at London Zoo, despite it being several years since the last wombat died there. I like seeing wombats at zoos, too. I have seen common wombats at a few zoos and saw hairy-nosed wombats at Rotterdam Zoo.

All the best


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Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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