A Common Wombat (Vombatus ursinus) with its young.
Image: Gary Lewis
Source: Copyright Cheryl Lewis
Question: With all the digging wombats do, why don’t their pouches fill with dirt?
Answer: Wombats, like all other marsupials, carry their babies around in pouches. The problem with wombats, however, is that they do a lot of digging.
You would think that all this dirt would collect in their pouches and that baby wombats would constantly have dirt in their eyes and whiskers. But this doesn’t happen, because wombats wear their pouches backwards.
A rear-facing pouch is not only better for keeping the inside dirt-free, it also protects the baby from being poked with sticks and roots. Wombats have short legs and therefore very little clearance. They are often fondly referred to as the bulldozers of the bush: a baby wombat in a rear-facing pouch is well protected from whatever its mum may "bulldoze" over.
Wombats are not the only marsupials with rear-facing pouches. Bandicoots, bilbies and Tasmanian Devils also do a lot of digging and they too protect their babies in pouches that open at the rear. Funnily enough, koalas also have rear-facing pouches. Luckily, female koalas have very tight muscles around their pouch openings.