Autumn 2003
A Tribute to Nugget



Wendy Morphett


Please click on the thumbnail pictures to enlarge


Nugget is (or was) a Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat from Nundroo on the Nullabor Plain in South Australia.     He was approx. 6 1/2 months old when he was adopted into our family.       Looking very fragile he had a very thin and patchy coat of fur.        Unfortunately I didn’t start to take photos’ of him until 3 weeks after we got him because I was afraid he may not survive but from that time onwards we have a glorious collection of invaluable photographic moments that have been shared, some of which are included here.


Nuggy, as we liked to call him, settled in very well.     We used a car bucket seat cover turned inside out for his pouch, which hung in our bedroom beside our bed.     He was very demanding with his bottle feeds which were shared with all his adopted family.    There was mum (me), dad (Tony), big sis (Ali, my youngest daughter, 11) and Uncle Russell (whom we shared a house with for the first 6 months).


Nuggys introduction to solid food was by spoon feeding him baby cereal before his bottle.     This was a sight in itself, seeing a baby wombat with a baby’s bib on. Teaching him to eat baby cereal for himself was very entertaining as Tony was on all fours with his nose about 2” above the bowl of baby cereal trying to get Nuggy to eat.    Well Nuggy got the hang of it alright, as bowls of baby cereal were consumed readily with much of it spread widely across the kitchen floor.


After a meal it was time for a ‘face wipe’.     This was a ritual that Nuggy became used to and would let me (his mum) nurse him on his back and wipe his face, but should anyone else of his immediate foster family try, there would be huffs, grunts and hisses of protest but the mission was eventually accomplished.


(Note: This is typical wombat behaviour and demonstrates their affection for one carer only and will often attach themselves to that person and behave aggressively towards others.  Ed.)


From his pouch, Nuggy progressed to his own bed (a cardboard box with blankets etc) where he was ‘put to bed’ if he was getting tired and bitey.     As he got older Nuggy would put himself to bed on his back but always seemed to have the backend sticking out.


Whilst Nuggy was with us he developed a liking to sleeping on our waterbed (with or without us in it) and was often caught ‘napping’ by the camera.


Nuggy also loved to shower with ‘us girls’ and would flop in our arms under the warm running shower every morning, though he hated baths and I was the only one in the end who could hold this 25kg wombat under the shower for his fortnightly wash with a medicated pet shampoo.   (Sorry, NO Photo’s!!)


We discovered he had a taste for toast when he persisted on jumping up on the waterbed and pinching dad’s breakfast in bed (lucky man!).     So from then on, when breakfast was served Nuggy had to have his piece of unbuttered toast on the tray too.


There were occasions when he was caught scouring the cupboards for his own breakfast.    He often used to help me sort out the shopping when I got home from the supermarket, which he thought was great fun.      Finding the apples was his main objective.


Nuggy had a special friend in Viv, the bearded dragon lizard, as they seemed to always have something to whisper to each other.


There were also other adventures for him, like sitting on the motor bike with ‘big sis’.     All Nuggy needed here was a leather pilot’s helmet and goggles and he would really have looked the part.      We all would go camping from time to time and Nuggy always came with us.     You would often see him in the line up of the guys in camp but somehow he just couldn’t quite manage to keep hold of his beer.     He really was our ‘little man’.


Someone even put a smile on the wombats face on the wombat crossing sign near Nundroo (bit hard to see in the photo).


Planting trees was more Nuggys style, he was especially good at digging the holes and the whole exercise was again a family affair. Nuggy always inspected the sites to see that work was ‘up to scratch’.

There was one occasion when we were all going to a party over night and we were leaving Nuggy behind.      Or at least, so we thought.    We had folded all the quilts and put the pillows in the car and then went to pick up our quilt but there was the back end of a wombat sticking out of it.     Nice try Nuggy - but he still didn’t get to the party.


By now Nuggy was finally old enough to have his ‘own room’. This was the walk in pantry off the kitchen.     In his room he had ‘his chair’, which was an old single lounge chair that became ‘his bed’.     If a strange noise, bang or a car came up the driveway, Nuggy would make a bee line for his room and the ‘safety’ of his chair.     This was regardless of who or what stood (or fell) between him and his room.  Many a time an unsuspecting family member was left teetering on collapse after a silver-grey bowling ball had charged down the passage at high speed.


When we decided to plaster and paint ‘big sis’s study room, everyone but Nuggy seemed to be helping.    Not deterred, Nuggy barged through the door while everyone else was on a tea break and put in his own efforts in the wet plaster walls.     It took us the next 2 hrs to smooth over his ‘improvements’.


Nuggy had a knack to opening doors.     He would zoom down the front veranda in his quirky gait and latch his teeth onto the round on the screen door to sis’s study and yank it open.     Then with a front foot, slam the door wide open.    One day we shut the sold inside door as well as the screen door (to keep him out of the newly re-plastered room).    Down the veranda trotted Nuggy heading straight for the screen door.     With his usual finesse he opened it only to be confronted by the solid door.    After a few head buts and scratches he realized this solid door would not open.     So what would any self respecting wombat do?????     He shut the screen door.    Stood and waited for a moment or two then promptly open the screen door expecting the solid door to no longer be there.    What magnificent powers of reasoning.


Nuggy had his disasters too, like ripping off a nail which was caught in a crack in the concrete floor; loosing an upper tooth twice, once from a fall and second trying to bite open the back door.     Despite these small trials he was always fit and healthy.       He was an intelligent little man, who loved us as his own and was loved in return.


The sad climax to this story is that one Saturday morning in November, Nuggy’s pen door was found open after we had stayed away from home one Friday night.      We could not understand how he could have opened it himself as the pen door has 2 latches which operate independently of one another.    Very mysterious and suspicious.


I have written this to share our experience and love for a beautiful sole mate that has been taken from us.       Many tears have fallen since his departure but Nuggy will be in our hearts forever.

Bennett's Wallaby
Juvenile NT Brushtail Possum
Swamp Wallaby
Golden Brushtail Possum
Red Kangaroos
Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies
Baby Squirrel Glider
Sugar Glider

Copyright The Marsupial Society of Australia Inc. 2003 - 2006 All rights reserved. Privacy Statement


Email Webmaster