However, poo is also very smelly, so it can be used by individuals to communicate their presence to others. Why is this needed? Although contests are frequent in the animal kingdom, they can be fatal – so are avoided if possible. One way of avoiding conflict is to mark your territory with a scent such as poo – this provides information on who you are and where you live.
The wombat is highly territorial so uses its cube-shaped poo to mark its territory, preventing conflict. Wombats have been found to differentiate between various poos and show avoidance behaviour when presented with poo produced by predators and other male wombats. The hormonal content of poo can also be examined, for example so that males can tell when females are most fertile.
Wombats deposit poo outside their burrows and on the tops of rocks and logs, where they are more easily found by other wombats. The distinctive shape is an advantage as the flat sides of the cubes ensure they do not roll off their precarious locations.