Biomimicry, Bushfires and Wombats

Wombats are one of Australia’s most loved marsupials, but they are often misunderstood. In children’s books they are described as slow and clumsy, yet, they can actually run faster than a human or dog over a short distance.

Muddle-headed wombats! No, they are quick to learn and they have adapted to their life underground. However, the stories about heroic wombats herding other animals to saftey into their fire-proof burrows are not true. Nevertheless, wombats may have helped many animals during the recent bushfires in Australia. It might not have been their intention, but their burrows provide a safe refuge underground.

Wombats dig large warrens, and the networks of interconnecting burrows have temperatures are very stable compared to surface temperatures. Daily temperature fluctuations can be less than 1° Celsius as compared to 24 degrees on the surface. The coolish burrows would be great help during fires so many small mammals use wombat burrows to hide from the flames.

Wombats do not have one burrow, instead they have multiple burrows, one study found a wombat with 14 different burows. The warrens can have several entrances and can consist of almost 100 metres of tunnels.

But surviving fire is only half the battle. The food in a landscape barren after a bush fire is scare and it is vital to avoid predators.

“Down a burrow, dug in deep.

A wombat curled up, fast asleep.

In other tunnels big and round

Other creatures can be found.” Bushfire by Tricia Oktober

Earth sheltering is sustainable approach to building houses. Design a house or a suburb or town inspired by wombats. For inspiration check out this these designs.

Happy and creative thinking!

Photos: Common Wombat

Wombat burrow and scat, Narawntapu National Park, Tasmania

4 thoughts on “Biomimicry, Bushfires and Wombats

  1. Reblogged this on ReadCountCraft and commented:
    This is so encouraging after hearing about all the animals killed in the Brushfires. I think 2 million and I cannot imagine the Koala going extinct?! I HOPE NOT. The architectural link is a gorgeous obvious statement of Biomimicry. This blog is approaching an idea that is ahead of it’s time, and I believe will be embraced in the future in the U.S. with the emphasis on Environmental Engineering. It’s also a fascinating way to link nature to children because they can relate to it! P.S. J.R.R. Tolkien was ahead of his time with the Hobbit Hole eh?


    1. Hi, I love the idea of Tolkien and the Hobbits! Absolutely right! I have a link somewhere about building a house the looks like a Hobbit Hole! I will post it as inspiration. Thank you so much for reblogging and for your kind support!


  2. It was so sad to hear about all the people and animals affected by the fires. It’s so nice to hear about the animals who use their survival skills and/or homes to stay safe! I loved reading facts about the lovely wombat; it warmed my heart! So glad some animals were able to use the wombat home to stay safe.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: