Eastern Quoll ~ very cute little marsupials

Eastern Quolls (Dasyurus viverrinus) are very cute little marsupials that are native to Australia.  Once found in south-eastern mainland Australia and Tasmania, they were declared extinct on mainland Australia in 1967. Their extinction was due to the introduction of feral predators, such as foxes, feral cats and dogs. Now, they are only found in Tasmania, as Tasmania is fox free, which has ensured their survival.

Brown Eastern Quoll, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
Brown Eastern quoll, Cradle Mountain Tasmania
Black Eastern Quoll, Cradle Mountain Tasmania
Black Eastern Quoll, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

In recent years a few captive breeding programs have been working on reintroducing small populations of eastern quolls back into mainland Australia in Booderee National Park (BNP), Jervis Bay in 2018 and 2019. Theres has been some positive success of their survival with the relocations. This area in BNP is a large fenced area to protect the eastern quolls from feral foxes, cats and dogs. Time will tell how these relocations of captive breeding will be successful on long-term basis.

Eastern Quolls are Cradle Mountain
Eastern quolls at Cradle Mountain
Characteristics

They are small solitary marsupials about the size of a cat, with a pointed pink nose, black eyes and a bushy tail with no spots, but sometimes their tail may have a white tip.  Only their body is covered with white spots. They have soft fur which can be fawn, brown, or black all will have distinctive white spots.

Males are around 55 – 66 cm long, their bushy tails can measure up to 28cm long. They weigh around 850g – 2kg. 

Females are slightly smaller and weigh around 600g – 1kg. 

Lifespan in the wild is 3-5 years, in captivity is around 6 years.

Eastern Quoll
Eastern Quoll
Habitat

They can live in a variety of habitats, such as alpine regions, rainforests, forests, and scrubland, but they mostly prefer to live in dry grassy areas. 

Being predatory animals, they play a very valuable role in the wild. They eat mainly insects, reptiles, rabbits, and rodents which helps to keep the pestly rodents under control.

Eastern quolls play an important role in their ecosystem, as they are very efficient scavengers cleaning up the forest floor from carrion (dead animals), rats and mice. They also eat insects, reptiles, and fruit. Being nocturnal they do most of their hunting at night and during the day they live in their burrows and nests inside logs and under trees. They are very agile and skilled tree climbers and can move very fast.

A pair of brown Eastern Quolls, Cradle Mountain Tasmania
A pair of brown Eastern Quolls, Cradle Mountain Tasmania
Reproduction

Breeding occurs once a year in early winter.  Females can give birth to up to 30 pups in one litter, which are the size of a grain of rice. Female pouches only have 6 – 8  teats which limits the survival rate of the pups, most of which will not survive. Gestation is between 20 – 24 days. Pups open their eyes after 75 – 80 days. After 10 weeks the pups will leave their mother’s pouch and venture onto the forest floor to forage and hunt. By 20 weeks of age, they are fully weaned and become independent. At around 1 year old they are sexually mature and will begin breeding. Only 20 – 58% of juveniles will survive to their first breeding season, which hampers conservation efforts.

Black Eastern Quoll showing off its bushy tail, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
Black Eastern Quoll showing off its bushy tail, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
Brown Eastern Quoll, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
Brown Eastern Quoll, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania


Conservation status 

Endangered and protected species with numbers decreasing  (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species)

The main threat for quolls is habitat loss (deforestation), illegal hunting, introduction of feral cats and dogs, foxes, Tasmanian devils, masked owls, roadkill, hunting, trapping and poisoning.

The Eastern Quoll is just one of six species of quolls, four of which live in Australia and two live in Papua New Guinea.

Resources

https://www.aussieark.org.au/eastern-quoll/

https://devilsatcradle.com

https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/wildlife-management/fauna-of-tasmania/mammals/carnivorous-marsupials-and-bandicoots/eastern-quoll

https://www.wwf.org.au/what-we-do/species/eastern-quoll#gs.9qb423

https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/6296/21947190

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