The wombat may be a muddle-headed marsupial in the realm of children's literature but in real life they are anything but, a Canberra wildlife carer says.
The attack of a woman in Canberra's south highlighted just how dangerous wombats could be, ACT Wildlife's Martin Lind said.
Kerry Evans said she was lucky to be alive after a large wombat mauled her while she was walking her dogs on Monday night.
But while wombats appeared cute and and cuddly, Mr Lind said, like all wild animals, they could be ferocious.
"Wombats are portrayed in literature and kid's stories as being these cute, innocuous little critters but they're not, they're just not," Mr Lind said.
While the image of an orphaned joey suckling on a bottle seemed emblematic of man's relationship with the furry Australian mammal, Mr Lind said that was not always the case.
"As babies, they're clingy, they're adorable, they're with mum 24 hours a day, they're in a soft, snugly sleeping bag all the time listening to a heart beat," Mr Lind said.
"When they start to mature and hit puberty, they just hate everybody and everything.They go from running between your legs and cute as a button to being absolute little – can I swear? – little shits. They nip you, they wreck, they bite. I won't look after wombats because you kiss goodbye to your flooring and everything. They just destroy everything."
And while ACT Wildlife's trained volunteers do care for wombat joeys, like baby Jack, Mr Lind said they rarely approached adults of the species.
"The only wombats we tackle as adults are usually so sick with mange that they're on death's door anyway," Mr Lind said. "If it's lively enough to get away from you or get tangled up in dogs' leads and it's scared, it'll bite."
So what should you do if you encounter a wild wombat?
Mr Lind recommended giving it a wide berth.
"You can't outrun them, they go like lightning," he said. "They're like little bulldozers."
However, if you gave the creature a chance, Mr Lind said it would most likely run away.
Mrs Evans was unlucky in this instance, Mr Lind said.
"I think she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, the poor woman," he said. "I think it was just one of those very rare occasions where there was nothing that could really be done."
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