Spotted-tailed dasyure, Spotted-tailed native cat, Tiger cat, Spotted-tailed quoll
The Tiger quoll is the largest of all 6 quoll species. At first glance, these animals look similar to mongooses. Their coloration varies from reddish-brown to dark brown. On the body and tail, the Tiger quoll exhibits noticeable white markings. Males and females look alike, although females tend to be smaller. This carnivore is one the most violent animals, found in the Australian bush with a rather sturdy built and powerful teeth, helping it to rip meat of its prey and crush invertebrates.
The Tiger quolls occur in Tasmania and mainland Australia, where these animals are presented by two distinct sup-species: those found from Tasmania to southern Queensland; and northern Queensland sub-species that are comparatively smaller. Within their home range, these animals inhabit a wide variety of habitats, generally preferring rainforests, closed canopy Eucalyptus forests, creeks and river forests. When foraging, they are known to frequent adjoining woodlands and open pasturelands.
Habits and lifestyle
Tiger quoll is generally a solitary animal. Home ranges of male individuals are usually larger, overlapping with these of females and other males. Females fiercely defend their home ranges against other females, except for female juveniles. These animals are nocturnal: they hunt by night, spending their daytime hours resting in underground hollows, which serve them as dens. However, the Tiger quolls are known to occasionally come out of their dens during the day in order to forage or take sunbath. About a tenth of their time is spent moving around above the surface of the ground or in trees. These animals are mainly silent, although they do vocalize when communicating with conspecifics. Thus, mothers communicate with their offspring through a special clucking call to which the babies respond. When threatened, these animals try to turn away the opponent by emitting growls and high-pitched scary sounds.
Diet and nutrition
As carnivores, the Tiger quolls generally feed upon possums, bandicoots, pademelons, rats, gliders and other small to medium-sized mammals, supplementing their diet with reptiles, birds, insects and occasional carrion.
Tiger quolls are polygynous, which means that one male mates with multiple females. They breed in April-July. Gestation period in this species lasts for 21 days, yielding 5 young on average. The babies are then moved to the pouch of their mother, where they continue to grow for the following 12 weeks. Then the mother begins feeding her offspring by bringing food into her pouch. The female does not carry her young on her back. However, the babies tend to rest on their mother and cling on her if threatened. Full independence in reached at 18 - 21 weeks old, while the age of sexual maturity is one year old.
The biggest threat to this species is habitat loss as a result of urban development and fragmentation of their range. Furthermore, the situation is compounded by competition with other animals, with which they share similar habitat. On the other hand, the Tiger quolls are hunted by both native and non-native predators, including red fox or feral cats. And finally, these animals are poisoned through taking traps with 1080 poisoning baits, targeting dingoes.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total Tiger quoll population is around 20,000 mature individuals, including small population in north-eastern Queensland, which is estimated to less than 1,000 individuals. Today, Tiger quolls’ numbers are decreasing, and these animals are classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List.
Fun facts for kids
- According to records of Captain Cook, who collected these animals along the east coast in 1770, 'quoll' is an Aboriginal name, given to this species.
- In order to communicate with conspecifics, quolls use various vocalizations such as hisses, cries or screams. Meanwhile, the cry of this species resembles the noise of a circular saw. This might be a reason why they got their fearsome ‘tiger’ reputation.
- The primary forms of communication in this species are olfactory and auditory signals rather than visual signals. When greeting each other, the Tiger quolls typically use nose-to-nose sniffs as well as mouth and ear secretions.
- These animals are known to have special communal latrines, found in open areas and intended for marking the territory and many other social functions.
- Tiger quolls have lovely, pink colored noses. In addition, their bodies and tails are covered with white markings.
- For its proportions, this animal has the second strongest bite of all terrestrial predatory mammals in the world, only to Australia’s Tasmanian devil. Due to its powerful jaws, the bite of the Tiger quoll is so mighty that exceeds Spotted Hyena or African Lion taken together.
- A newborn baby of the Tiger quoll is the size of a grain of rice.
- This agile animal is able to travel a distance over 6 km per night. In addition, home range of each individual covers a large territory of up to 500 hectares.