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A Question of Quolls

Updated on June 15, 2014
A black eastern quoll photographed in Tasmania.
A black eastern quoll photographed in Tasmania. | Source

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What Is a Quoll?

If someone were to ask you to give an example of a marsupial, what would your first response be? More than likely, it would be a kangaroo, a koala, or maybe even a Tasmanian devil. You would be right. There are, however, some other marsupials in our world that are not only widely unknown but are also fading from existence. Many people are more than likely unaware of their existence and it is important to raise awareness about such creatures, especially now that they are officially an endangered species. This particular marsupial is called a quoll.

What is a marsupial? Most commonly these furry creatures are referred to as “pouched mammals” (Smith). While it is true that marsupials are animals whose young live in a pouch, this is only a glimpse of what a marsupial really is. For example, marsupials give live births but their young are born much sooner than “placental mammals” (Smith) and the young live in their mother’s pouches until they are nearly old enough to go out on their own. Because they are mammals, marsupials have fur and nurse their young with milk. While there are far fewer breeds of marsupials than there are other mammals, the group is extremely diverse and fascinating to study (Smith).

A quoll is a type of marsupial that is native to Australia. There are four kinds of quolls: northern, western, eastern, and spotted tailed – also called the tiger quoll. They are roughly the size of cats, with tails nearly as long as their bodies, a thick snout and wet pink nose, and a very opossum like face. Their coloring is diverse; they can be gray, light brown, dark brown, and even black. A common feature on the quolls, no matter what color their fur, is that their bodies are always covered with white spots. The difference between the spotted tailed quoll and the other types is that its spots continue on down its tail instead of just being on its back and body. Also, just like how each human’s fingerprint is different, no two quolls have the same pattern of spots (Spotted Tailed Quoll).

These unique animals are mainly found in Tasmania although they also live on the Eastern coast of the mainland of Australia. As far as habitat goes, they can live in almost any kind of forest, “so long as there is plenty of ground cover” (Spotted Tailed Quoll). They generally live in caves, dens and crevices and near plentiful vegetation for hunting and foraging (Ambrose).

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Diet

Like Tasmanian devils – a breed of fellow marsupials – quolls are very carnivorous. Their diet consists of rodents, small mammals, and sometimes even birds. Their teeth are sharp and deadly and they generally kill their prey by biting it on the back of the neck. They also act as scavengers, eating dead animals and sometimes scavenge for food (Spotted Tailed Quoll). In Tasmania, it is a relatively common occurrence for quolls to lose their meals to Tasmanian devils “because the quolls do not consume their prey quickly enough” (Ambrose). Quolls are nocturnal and tend to sleep through the day and hunt at night, but sometimes on cold days they will hunt during the day when it is a bit warmer.

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Birth, Life and Death

Like other marsupials, quolls have pouches in which their young are carried until they are old enough to be out on their own. These pouches are created by folds in the skin (Smith). Quolls have a very short gestation period, carrying their young for only twenty-one days before giving birth to their young, still all but embryos, that latch to their mother and stay in the pouch until it is time for them to leave the pouch six weeks later. Even after leaving the pouch, juvenile quolls stay with their parents for many weeks, learning how to hunt, fight, and survive, before they are finally, at eighteen weeks old, they are truly ready to be on their own. The life span of an average quoll is about six years (Spotted Tailed Quolls).

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Quolls Are an Endangered Species

These intriguing creatures are becoming increasingly endangered. “The introduction of European foxes, feral cats and dogs, diseases, and the destruction of their forest habitats” are all contributors to their decline (Spotted Tailed Quoll). According to the Office of Environment & Heritage, these animals, especially the foxes and cats, pose as a threat because they not only compete for the quolls’ food but also attack them on occasion (Spotted Tailed Quoll Community Survey).

This is not all that threaten the quolls’ existence. Quolls are often found “living in isolated areas that may be too small to support viable long-term populations” (Spotted Tailed Quoll Community Survey). Not only this, but quolls have been known to scavenge for food in people’s crops and campsites and are often blamed for crop failure and “persecuted” by the human population (Spotted Tailed Quoll Community Survey). If this does not stop, quolls could cease to exist because their numbers are being depleted rapidly (Spotted Tailed Quolls). They are, in fact, already extinct in Southern Australia (Ambrose).

Efforts to try to save the species, especially now that it is officially on the endangered list, include educating people about these strange but fascinating creatures. Most people, especially those who do not live in the area where quolls occur, have never heard of this kind of marsupial. Hopefully if people become more enlightened about quolls, more efforts to conserve them will take place.

Right now, it is important to conservation of this species for scientists to keep track of where quolls are. It is requested that if anyone sees a quoll that they report it to the Department of Environment and Conservation. This is “the first step towards the recovery and future conservation of the species” (Spotted Tailed Quoll Community Survey).

All in all, quolls are a very interesting species whose numbers are dwindling. They are small but fierce, furry but tough, and beautifully patterned. They are threatened by many factors, including humans, feral animals, and habitat destruction. It is important to spread the word about this unique species so that conservation can begin. This, like all other animals in danger, is a species worth saving.

Works Cited

Ambrose, T. “Dasyurus maculatus.” Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan. Web. 13 April 2011.

“Spotted Tailed Quoll.” Australian Ring. Unique Australian Animals, n.d. Web. 13 April 2011.

Smith, Dave. “Marsupial Mammals.” UCMP. University of California Museum of Paleontology, 10 Oct. 2005. Web. 13 April 13, 2011.

“Spotted Tailed Quoll Community Survey.” Environment & Heritage. NSW Government, 27 Feb. 2011. Web. 13 April 2011.

Ben Britton on Quolls

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    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Interesting creature and a shame it's endangered. I think our lives loose something every time any creature becomes extinct. That extinct creature is something we will never really know. While in many cases that was likely anyway for a variety of reasons, extinction removes even the potential with finality.

      Looking forward to reading more of your articles! Voting this one up.

    • Elizabeth Bowers profile image
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      Elizabeth Bowers 3 years ago from Tennessee

      Thanks for the comment! I hope they do too! :)

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Cute little guys, I never heard of a quoll. Since it rhymes with troll, I think I can remember it. I hope they get off the endangered list!

    • Elizabeth Bowers profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Bowers 3 years ago from Tennessee

      Thanks! I saw that video and just HAD to add it. I love Ben Britton. He's got all kinds of videos on YouTube about different animals, including servals, green tree frogs, capuchin monkeys, pumas, Tasmanian devils, wombats... It's pretty awesome! :)

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      A wonderful new video Elizabeth! It was very interesting and informative. Ben Britton was really giving into a good explanation while showing the quoll well to the camera.

      Kevin

    • Elizabeth Bowers profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Bowers 3 years ago from Tennessee

      LOL, yeah, I'd love one too, but I think that might be one best left to the wild - but it is awfully adorable. Thanks for the comment! :)

    • joedolphin88 profile image

      Joe 3 years ago from north miami FL

      Wow that animal is cute. I'd like to own one but I'm sure it wouldn't be easy to train.

    • Elizabeth Bowers profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Bowers 3 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you all very much! I'm so glad I could introduce this adorable critter to you! :)

    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 3 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      How fascinating! I had never heard of a quoll. Thanks so much for this well-written, intriguing article.

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      Shasta Matova 3 years ago from USA

      That is an interesting creature - I had never heard of it. Thanks for enlightening me.

    • gamerjimmy23 profile image

      Jimmy Gent 3 years ago from California

      Cool hub! Until now I had never heard of a Quoll. To this day I am never surprised by all the interesting creatures that originate from Australia.

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      swilliams 3 years ago

      This is a very interesting creature. Thanks for sharing! It looks like part deer & part mouse. Very intriguing! Voted up! And Welcome!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I have never even heard of a quoll so enjoyed the lesson. Hopefully measures will be taken to keep them from becoming extinct. Pinning this to my animals board.

    • Elizabeth Bowers profile image
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      Elizabeth Bowers 3 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you very much!

      @SandCastles Thank you. I definitely agree with what you're saying. I don't want to give any cruel people any reason to go after these amazing critters, but I also think it's neat to learn about new animals.

      @RTalloni Thank you! I love their coats, colors, spots, everything! They are so cute, and I think they're really interesting creatures! From the research I've done, they're kind of like the opossum of Australia, but way cuter in my opinion (not that opossums don't have their cute moments). I'm glad you enjoyed the article!

      @The Examiner-1 Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed the article! And thank you for voting it up as well!

    • profile image

      SandCastles 3 years ago

      Interesting hub. I think it is important for conservationists to know about quolls and to look for funds to help these creatures but I don't like the idea of shining a spot light on them. Cruel people might suddenly take an interest and start looking for these vulnerable creatures because they've never seen one, giving the quoll a new enemy along with the foxes. Just quietly collect monies and help them. Or lump them into a helping marsupials drive. What do people do when they find something unusual? Do they leave it alone? Watch the movie E.T.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for an interesting read to inform of this unique animal and the need to preserve it. The spotted quolls have delightful coats!

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      That was a very informative article Elizabeth and I am happy that I read it. I thought at first that it looked familiar but I realized that was the Tasmanian Devil. I voted this up and shared it. I think that I have seen that name in passing but I have never heard about the animal.

      Kevin

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