true stories

Lucky – the wombat that thought she was a cat

Possums clattering over tin roofs and wallabies mowing the lawn are to be expected in rural Tasmania. But when our next-door neighbours’ cat food was mysteriously disappearing out of the laundry no-one could work out what creature could be the thief. It was unlikely that Tasmanian devils would venture so close to humans and there was no evidence of droppings or gnawed packets in the pantry.

The disappearances remained a mystery until one night when Anna needed a glass of water. Imagine her surprise to find a wombat in the kitchen, scurrying around the cabinets and skidding on the tiles in a desperate attempt to flee. Healthy and nimble, the hairy visitor eventually retreated to the laundry and squeezed back out through the cat-flap.

A wild wombat on the author's property

A wild wombat on the author’s property

If you’ve never encountered a wombat then this feat may not surprise you. But wombats are not small creatures, as wide as they are high and solid as a tank. They are renowned in Australia for causing more damage to vehicles that hit them on the roads than they incur themselves. Nocturnal by nature, they are also vegetarian. So could this visitor really be the cat food thief?

Anna didn’t want to lock the pet door as her two cats were accustomed to twenty-four hour access between the house and garden. Not convinced the wombat was responsible, Anna kept a vigil for night noises. Sure enough, whenever she heard scuffling in the kitchen or laundry there was the wombat. The food continued to disappear.

Ours was a small community where everyone knew each other. Soon the word was out that Anna had a regular visitor. “Oh, that’ll be Lucky,” came the response. Lucky was a rescued wombat that had been hand-reared on a bottle. She had been released back into the wild when she was old enough to fend for herself. However, it seemed she preferred easier food than grazing the paddocks or digging up roots in the forests.

Determined to put an end to her unwelcome guest, Anna contacted the local Wildcare people. Being so tame Lucky was easily caught, but that didn’t answer the question of what to do with her. If she was released nearby (as government regulations dictate) she would only return.

Meanwhile, Wildcare had rescued a large male wombat after a road accident. Due to the nature of his injuries he couldn’t be returned to the wild and was fretting on his own. The solution was easy; Lucky became his new companion. Last heard of she had settled back into captivity on a large nature reserve and had a baby of her own.

B5 v15 HarryLucky’s story inspired Harry the hermit’s rescued wombat in the Brumbies books.

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