Sleepy Burrows is on a mission!

Sleepy Burrows Wombat Sanctuary is on a mission to save Australia’s wombats, but needs your help.

The beloved native wombat – one of Australia’s most iconic marsupials – is under serious threat from loss of habitat, mange (a deadly skin disease) and humans (believe it or not). 

With your support, Sleepy Burrows can continue to make a difference.

Wombat burrow in fire area

Sleepy Burrows Wombat Sanctuary is situated near Gundaroo – some 35-kilometres northeast of Canberra.

The sanctuary is home to a lovable bunch of sick, injured, illegal pet and orphaned wombats undergoing rehabilitation.

The wombats – boasting names like Digger, Daphne and VB – are nursed to full health and retaught how to survive in the wild (prior to release).

No wombat is released without the necessary skills to survive in the bush.

The team at Sleepy Burrows is led by the energetic and passionate Donna Stepan – recipient of the Order of Australia medal (OAM) for service to animal welfare (June 2017).

Donna and the team work tirelessly (sometimes 20-hours a day) to ensure the wombats are properly cared for.

The team also conducts public education campaigns and hosts educational visits to the sanctuary.

Current statistics

Wombats in care

This figure represents wombats at the sanctuary AND wombats we are assisting in the field

Wombats awaiting care

Dangers of being a Wombat

Although adult wombats look tough (burly appearance, solitary nature), they’re actually shy animals that face a few challenges in life.

Loss of habitat

The Bare Nosed wombat (Vombatus ursinus) lives predominantly in southeastern Australia and Tasmania. Its natural habitat is under serious threat from urbanisation, particularly in areas close to Australia’s fastest-growing cities (Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne).


Mange is a deadly skin disease caused by the parasitic mite (Sarcoptes scabiei). Wombats are highly prone to mange, as mites love cool, humid environments (like wombat burrows). Read about the devastating effects of mange here (it’s not pretty reading). Mange is highly contagious and we believe will be the demise of this species in the very near future if this epidemic is not taken seriously.

Wombat pet ownership

Sadly, many pet wombats are discarded (orphaned) and dumped into the wild by their former owners. Lacking the necessary survival skills, these wombats die a horrific death (sadly at the hand of humans). Although it’s illegal to own a pet wombat, many people ignore the law.

Motor vehicles

Like most native animals, a wombat runs the risk of being injured or killed by a motor vehicle, especially at night. Unfortunately, many drivers don’t stop to provide assistance or call us (we’re usually available 24×7). It’s not unusual for a female wombat to have a joey (baby wombat) in its pouch. In winter, wombats can be out at any time of the day or night due to the cooler temperatures, something motorists do not consider. The fatality rate is therefore a lot higher in the winter months.

Wild dogs and foxes

Wild dogs and foxes are known to attack wombats. A healthy adult wombat can usually defend itself against a single dog or fox, but will not survive against a pack of dogs.

Rogue shooters

Most shooters are responsible, but an alarming number of “rogue” shooters kill or maim wombats for fun. In most parts of Australia, it’s illegal to kill wombats without a permit.

Other maladies

Besides mange, wombats are susceptible to diseases found in grazing stock, such as liver fluke and leptospirosis. Pet wombats are also at risk of toxoplasmosis, which is typically found in cat faeces. Pneumonia is a natural killer of wombats in nature and is quite prevalent in wombats coming into care in the colder months.