Eastern Quoll

Eastern Quoll

Eastern native cat, Native cat

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Infraclass
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Dasyurus viverrinus
Population size
10-12 Thou
Life Span
3-6 yrs
TOP SPEED
24 km/h
WEIGHT
0.7-1 kg
LENGTH
48-66 cm

The Eastern quoll is a medium-sized species of marsupial. The fur of the animal is thick but soft, colored with fawn, brown or black and exhibiting small, white patches all over the body except with the tail. Generally, these quolls come in two distinct color patterns: either fawn with whitish under parts or black with brownish under parts. Meanwhile, in both cases the animals display the characteristic white patches. The fawn color pattern occurs more often, though young in the same litter may exhibit both of these patterns.

Distibution

Once, this species was widespread and common in the southeastern Australia. Presently, the Eastern quolls have lost 50 - 90% of their original range, currently occurring in the wild only in Tasmania as well as on the nearby Bruny Island, where the species is thought to be introduced. This animal inhabits different environments such as grasslands, open forests, heaths, wet scrub, moorlands, woodlands and alpine habitats. In addition, the Eastern quolls favor agricultural areas and can often be seen in pastures adjacent to forest.

Eastern Quoll habitat map

Geography

Continents
Countries
Regions

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Eastern quolls are solitary animals. They generally avoid conspecifics and scent mark their home ranges. However, there have been seen pairs of socializing adult females. When an intruder appears on its territory, a quoll will hiss, cough and give out sharp shrieking sounds, which are thought to serve as an alarm call. If all these actions don't work, the quoll will resort to drastic measures, chasing and wrestling the opponent with its jaws while standing on its hind legs. The Eastern quolls are nocturnal animals. During the daytime hours, they rest in dens. They usually use underground burrows, fallen logs or piles of rocks as dens. Their burrows often have very simple structure, being merely blind-ending tunnels. However, sometimes the animals have one or more nesting chambers in their burrows, surrounded with grass. Each quoll has up to 5 dens, which it uses alternately. These terrestrial animals walk with leaping strides, and can climb on occasion.

Diet and Nutrition

The Eastern quolls are omnivores, they particularly favor the cockshafer beetles, corbie shrubs, dead animals as well as various fruits. A big part of their diet is composed of insects. They are also known to consume some vegetables and small vertebrates such as rats, rabbits, mice and small marsupial species.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
May-August
PREGNANCY DURATION
21 days
BABY CARRYING
6-8 pups
INDEPENDENT AGE
18-20 weeks
BABY NAME
pup

The mating system of Eastern quolls is unknown. However, it is thought to be polygynous, as these animals are solitary and communicate only during the breeding season. The breeding season occurs in May - August. Gestation period lasts for 21 days and may yield up to 30 young, though each female is able to raise only 6 - 8 young in its pouch. The newborn quolls come out of the pouch at 10 weeks old, after which the mother can leave her offspring in the den in a burrow or hollow log, in order to forage and provide them with food. Young quolls are weaned, becoming independent in the late November, when they are 18 - 20 weeks old. Sexual maturity is reached within the first year of their lives.

Population

Population threats

Threats to the small population of this Near Threatened species are many. The animals presently face loss and fragmentation of their natural habitat combined with loss of large hollow logs, which they use as dens. They are hunted by foxes and cats as well as exposed to spread of disease from cats. On the other hand, poisoning by dingo baits negatively affect the population of Eastern quolls. Other concerns include competition for food and road accidents.

Population number

According to IUCN Red list, the total population of the Eastern quoll was estimated to be between 10,000 and 12,000 mature individuals. Although numbers of this species are stable today, it is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Newborn babies of this species are very small, about the size of the grain of ice.
  • These terrestrial animals spend most of their time on the ground, though they are in fact excellent climbers.
  • Quolls are known to use "public restrooms”. They usually choose a suitable site (e.g. rock ledges) and establish a restroom.
  • In spite of being nocturnal animals, quolls can be observed sunbathing rather than hiding from the sun. Usually, smaller species of quoll dig burrows for themselves while bigger species sleep in dens, located in hollow logs or caves.
  • Most species of quoll have "fake" pouch: unlike kangaroos, their pouch is no more than folds of skin on their belly. The newborn baby curls up in these folds of skin. Then, after a while, it can be seen hanging from its mother's belly, until it begins travelling clung onto her back.
  • Quoll is quite similar to cats by its furry shape, due to which locals often call it the "native cat". However, despite this resemblance, quoll belongs to the same tribe as one of the "Looney Tunes" characters - Taz the Tasmanian Devil.

References

1. Eastern Quoll Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_quoll
2. Eastern Quoll on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/6296/0

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