Monday, April 20, 2015

A-Z Blogging Challenge: Quolls

There are six species of this small marsupial - four in Australia and two in New Guinea and ranging in size from around 300 grams to 7 kgs (about the size of a domestic cat). They are also found off the mainland in Tasmania and on other islands off the Australian coast. The Australian quolls - western quoll or chuditch, tiger or spotted quoll, northern and eastern quolls - once spread over most of the continent but are all listed as vulnerable or endangered due to habitat destruction due to land clearance and urban spread, poison baiting, foxes, feral cats and, in the northern parts of the country, from eating the introduced cane toad which is poisonous when ingested.

The quoll of most interest to Western Australians is the western quoll or chuditch. It's a small and appealing creature with a body length of about 33 cms and its tail adding around another 28 cms. It weighs from 1-2 kgs and it feeds on small vertebrates, insects and freshwater crayfish, as well as carrion if it's available. Mainly active at twilight and dawn it sleeps in hollow logs during the day. It is quick on the ground and also climbs well, making it an efficient hunter.

The chuditch is found only in the jarrah forests of south western Ausralia although it once ranged over 70% of the continent. It was listed as endangered until a successful breeding program was set up at Perth Zoo. Following intensive fox baiting over 300 western quolls have been released and are breeding in the wild. The species is now listed as near threatened in Western Australia and a trial release of adult western quolls has been made in Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges National Park in South Australia. The western quoll is a totemic animal of the local indigenous people so the success of the trial has importance beyond restoring the natural balance by reintroducing western quolls to the area.

You can find out more about quolls here.


Jo said...

Funny little critter. What a shame if it should disappear.

Helen V. said...

They're quite endearing and apparently a couple of people are breeding the eastern quolls selectively because they think they'll make good pets. I'm not entirely convinced about that though.