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the Fascinating World of Quolls Australia’s Native Cats

Quoll

Don’t be fooled by their pink noses and thick, soft fur – Australia’s ‘native cats’ are nothing like cats at all. Quolls are marsupials that live in dens and climb trees

Quolls, also known as native cats, are a group of small to medium-sized marsupials that are native to Australia and Papua New Guinea. There are six species of quolls found in Australia, including the eastern quoll, the western quoll, the northern quoll, the spotted-tail quoll, the eastern striped quoll, and the western striped quoll. These animals are known for their distinctive appearance, which includes a pointed snout, small ears, and sharp teeth.

The scientific name of the spotted-tail quoll, Dasyurus maculatus, is derived from the Greek words “dasy” (meaning “hairy”) and “oura” (meaning “tail”), and the Latin word “maculatus”, which means “spotted”.

In terms of physical characteristics, quolls vary in size depending on the species, with the eastern quoll being the smallest and the spotted-tail quoll being the largest. They have a stocky build, with short legs and a long, bushy tail. Their fur is soft and dense, and it ranges in color from black to brown to grey, with some species having spots or stripes.

Habitat

Quolls are found in a variety of habitats across Australia, including forests, woodlands, grasslands, and heathlands. They are mostly found in the eastern and western regions of the country, and they are also found in parts of Papua New Guinea. These animals are nocturnal, and they spend their days sleeping in dens or nest boxes, which they build using twigs and leaves.

Prior to European settlement, most of the country was home to at least one species of quoll. For example, the Western Quoll was once found in 70% of Australia. It is now mostly restricted to Western Australia’s far south-west. The Eastern Quoll, which was once common in south-east Australia, has been declared extinct on the mainland since the 1960s.

As a result of these factors, the Eastern and Northern Quoll are listed as Endangered. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists the Spotted-tail Quoll and Western Quoll as Near Threatened (IUCN).

Females are smaller and have smaller home ranges than males. In search of food, male quolls can travel up to several kilometres per night.

Quolls frequently build dens in tree hollows, rock crevices, underground burrows, fallen logs, and even termite mounds in the case of the Northern Quoll.

Diet

As for their diet, quolls are carnivorous, feeding on a variety of small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. They are skilled hunters, and they use their sharp teeth and claws to catch their prey. They are also known to scavenge for food, and they have been known to raid chicken coops and other sources of food.

Reproduction

In terms of reproduction, quolls reach sexual maturity at around one year of age. They typically have one litter of offspring per year, and the litter size can range from one to six individuals. The gestation period is around 21-22 days, and the young quolls stay in the mother’s pouch for around four months before they are fully developed and ready to leave the nest.

The six species of quolls found in Australia

  • Eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus): The eastern quoll is a small marsupial native to eastern Australia. It has a stocky build, with black fur, a pointed snout, small ears, and sharp teeth. It was found in a variety of habitats across eastern Australia, including forests, woodlands, and heathlands but is considered extinct on mainland Australia with the last confirmed sighting in the 1960s.
  • Western quoll (Dasyurus geoffroii): A medium-sized marsupial native to western Australia. It has a stocky build, with brown fur, a pointed snout, small ears, and sharp teeth. It is found in a variety of habitats across western Australia, including forests, woodlands, and heathlands.
  • Northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus): The northern quoll is a small to medium-sized marsupial native to northern Australia. It has a stocky build, with brown fur, a pointed snout, small ears, and sharp teeth. It is found in a variety of habitats across northern Australia, including forests, woodlands, and heathlands.
  • Spotted-tail quoll (Dasyurus maculatus): Medium-sized marsupial native to eastern and south-eastern Australia. It has a stocky build, with brown fur, a pointed snout, small ears, and sharp teeth. It is characterized by spots on its tail, which give it its name. It is found in a variety of habitats across eastern and southeastern Australia, including forests, woodlands, and heathlands.
  • Eastern striped quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus): The eastern striped quoll is a small marsupial native to eastern Australia. It has a stocky build, with black fur and white stripes on its face and body, a pointed snout, small ears, and sharp teeth. It is found in a variety of habitats across eastern Australia, including forests, woodlands, and heathlands.
  • Western striped quoll (Dasyurus geoffroii): Medium-sized marsupial native to western Australia. It has a stocky build, with brown fur and white stripes on its face and body, a pointed snout, small ears, and sharp teeth. It is found in a variety of habitats across western Australia, including forests, woodlands, and heathlands.

Behavior

When it comes to behavior, quolls are solitary animals, and they only come together to mate. They communicate with each other through a variety of vocalizations and scent markings, and they are also known to defend their territory through vocalizations and physical confrontations.

Conservation Status

Unfortunately, several species of quolls are at risk of extinction due to a number of threats, including habitat loss and fragmentation due to urbanization and land clearing, as well as predation by introduced species such as cats and foxes. They are also at risk of accidental poisoning through the use of pesticides, baits and other chemicals.

To help protect and conserve quolls, there are a number of conservation efforts underway in Australia. These include habitat restoration and protection, breeding programs, and education campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of these amazing animals. There are also efforts underway to control introduced species and reduce the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

Quolls are a fascinating and important group of animals that are native to Australia and Papua New Guinea. With their distinctive appearance, unique behaviors, and important role in the ecosystem, they are a species that we should all strive to protect and conserve for future generations to enjoy.

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