Food preferences of captive southern hairy-nosed wombats (Lasiorhinus latifrons)
thesisposted on 25.09.2018, 00:00 by Yvette FenningYvette Fenning
This program of research investigates food preferences of captive wombats when offered a selection of familiar, unfamiliar, natural and unnatural captive wombat diets. These diets reflect both current and future diet options for zoos and wildlife carers Australia wide. A review of the research highlights a lack of knowledge of wombat food preferences and that feeding regimens for captive wombats may be inadequate. This was the first study of food preferences in captive southern hairy-nosed wombats. The research was based at the Rockhampton Zoo Wombat Research Centre and involved a series of four food choice experiments. The foods offered included familiar and unfamiliar foods as well as natural and unnatural foods. All foods used throughout this program of research are routinely fed to captive wombats throughout Australian zoos. The results showed this population of captive wombats, when offered a choice between their daily, pelleted feed, preferred pellets overall followed by natural grasses regardless of familiarity. The test food items had an impact on the amount of pellets consumed with carrot proving to be a disincentive to eating. Variables that may have influenced food choice were also considered, such as activity levels during feed, weather conditions and time of feeding trial. The results showed that active wombats consumed more food overall than sedentary wombats and were heavier in body weight. Temperature did not impact the amount of food consumed or the food choices made by this group of wombats. The time of the feeding trial did impact on the food choices with the wombats choosing to consume more pellets and less of the test foods the later the evening progressed. These findings can be applied to captive management of wombats in zoos. Grass is recommended to form an essential part of all captive wombat diets due to the positive correlation it had with total food consumed. Carrot should be reconsidered as a popular food for wombats due to its negative correlation to total food consumed.