Quoll Facts: The Males Die After Only 1 Mating Season

Imagine a creature that combines the grace of a feline, the curiosity of a raccoon, and the pouch of a kangaroo. Enter the captivating world of the quoll—a small yet remarkable marsupial that has captured the hearts of nature enthusiasts worldwide. Join us as we embark on an adventure filled with astonishing quoll facts!

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Dasyuromorphia
Family: Dasyuridae
Genus: Dasyurus

1. They look like a polecat

Quolls, which are members of the Dasyuridae family, are diminutive marsupials. They are often known as “native polecats” or “native cats.” These creatures possess unmistakable characteristics that set them apart. They have pointed snouts equipped with sharp teeth, vibrant eyes, and thick fur in shades of brown, ginger, or black, embellished with white spots. Across their coats, there are intermittent lighter patches.

You can’t keep these cute species as pets

These creatures have a size of a small cat. They have a length ranging from 10 to 30 inches and a weight that can vary from 11 ounces to 15 pounds. Their tails are quite long, about 8 – 14 inches, making a significant contribution to their overall length. Compared to female quolls, males are bigger.

They have sharp claws on both their front and hind feet. This characteristic helps them dig burrows underground or move quickly while climbing trees.

2. There are 6 species of them

There exist a total of six types of quolls, with four inhabiting Australia and/or Tasmania, while the remaining two are found in New Guinea.

One notable member is the eastern quoll, also called the eastern native cat. Although this species has become extinct in mainland Australia, it thrives extensively in Tasmania. The species stands out among its quoll counterparts due to its distinct feature of possessing merely four toes on its hind feet.

Another fascinating quoll species is the northern quoll, known for being the smallest species of all. Once abundant throughout northern Australia, it presently exists in only five regional populations (Queensland, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory). It exhibits a relatively short lifespan, particularly for male individuals.

On the other hand, the tiger quoll, also known as the spotted-tailed quoll, stands as the largest species within the family. This distinctive creature showcases reddish-brown fur accompanied by a prominently spotted tail. It has 2 subspecies that inhabit eastern Queensland and southeastern Australia. Among carnivorous marsupials, they possess the longest tails, with males often exceeding 1 meter (40 inches) in length, tail included.

Once occupying a vast range encompassing 70% of Australia, the western quoll ranks as the second-largest species. However, it is now confined to a small region in southwest Australia. While bearing similarities to the eastern species, the western features 5 toes on its hind feet and a darker tail.

The New Guinea quoll lives across Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, but it is characterized by an uneven and sporadic presence.

The bronze quoll, which is unique to New Guinea, is not well-known.

3. Habitat

As mentioned above, Australia is home to four quoll species, while the remaining two are native to New Guinea. These 6 species exhibit variations in habitat, including high-altitude grasslands, temperate woodlands and forests, coastal heathlands, mesic zones, forests, wet sclerophyll forests, sub-alpine woodlands, riparian forests, and scrublands.

The western quoll

The western quoll has evolved to survive in dry areas found in the inland southwest, whereas the northern species flourishes in tropical regions characterized by plentiful rainfall. On the other hand, the tiger and eastern quolls inhabit only mesic zones.

4. Diet

Quolls are meat-eating mammals that exhibit opportunistic feeding behavior, consuming varying amounts of meat depending on their species and size.

The bigger quoll species will feed on larger prey, such as medium-sized birds, reptiles, and mammals such as possums, echidnas, and rabbits. On the other hand, smaller species primarily eat lizards (such as frilled lizards), frogs, insects, bird’s eggs, small birds, small mammals, and fruit.

The quolls are eating prey

In addition to hunting, these carnivores are also known to scavenge for carrion. However, engaging in such scavenging behavior increases their vulnerability to roadkill.

To hunt, these secondary consumers use a stealthy hunting technique. They pounce on their prey and specifically aim for the neck, using their razor-sharp claws and teeth to tear flesh and shatter the bones of their victims.

They are eaten by some predators like feral cats, feral dogs, red foxes, and humans.

5. Behavior

Quolls demonstrate a solitary nature, whereby males establish extensive territories that can span up to a mile from their den. Although male territories are non-overlapping, you can find numerous female territories within a male’s domain.

Notwithstanding their solitary tendencies, quolls partake in certain social behaviors and interactions during the mating season. They even gather to engage in communal latrine activities and mark their territories.

The animals are primarily nocturnal, exhibiting heightened activity during the night to find food. The tiger species can go for 3.7 miles (6 km) in a single night while searching for food.

During the daytime, they can rest in the shelters or sunbathe on bright days. Depending on their species, quolls can sleep in various locations such as hollow logs, dens, caves, or burrows. The larger members of their kind prefer the shelter of hollow logs or caves, while the smaller ones opt for digging burrows.

They use various sounds to communicate, including hissing, screaming, and chirping, much like Tasmanian devils.

They’re quite good at climbing

Although they are predominantly land-dwelling creatures, they also possess climbing skills, particularly among the smaller species. These agile felines utilize trees to spot and capture their prey. This is due to ridges on their foot soles that can help them to climb. However, their tail cannot grasp branches like the ones of monkeys.

Among all species, the northern quoll stands out as the most assertive and arboreal. On the other hand, the eastern quolls are considered the least aggressive, with some even describing them as friendly and pleasant. The spotted-tailed, known for its remarkable bite, holds the distinction of possessing one of the most powerful bites among all predatory mammals worldwide. This species can also swim.

6. Male quolls die after mating

Quolls, which are a species of marsupials, exhibit distinct breeding and reproduction. Their breeding season often occurs during the autumn to winter seasons. During this time, these species will mate with different partners. The males have been observed engaging in competitive fights to get the chance to mate with the females.

Following successful mating, the female quoll undergoes a gestation period that typically lasts around 18 to 21 days, varying based on the species. Once the female becomes pregnant, her abdomen develops into a pouch that faces downward.

The female gives birth to a litter of joeys that are as small as grains of rice. These tiny offspring promptly find their way into their mother’s pouch. They will nurse on her milk and grow till they become independent.

Although the mother can give birth to as many as 20 offspring, typically only 6 of them manage to survive the initial 2 weeks. This is because the mother only has 6 teats to nurse her young. After two months, the surviving joeys start exploring the world by climbing onto their mother’s back, where they stay for approximately 6 weeks. During this time, they grasp onto their mother’s fur using their sharp teeth. Eventually, when the young are 1 year old, they become independent and leave their mom.

The lifespan of quolls is quite short, spanning from 1 to 5 years when living in the wild. Their reproduction activity usually takes place during their first year of life. The male northern species will die after mating, while the females can live slightly longer. Only a small number of individuals manage to survive beyond their second mating season.

7. Threat and conservation status

According to the IUCN Red List, the northern quoll is categorized as Endangered species, while the other 5 species are Near Threatened. Approximately 10,000 to 15,000 individuals are remaining within each species.

The decline of their population can be attributed to various threats. One crucial factor is the unintended consequences of introducing poisonous cane toads in 1935 to control crop-damaging beetles. Unfortunately, these toads have multiplied extensively and now pose a significant danger to indigenous predators like the quoll. Lacking natural defenses against the toxic venom of cane toads, these marsupials face vulnerability to illness or even fatality upon eating these amphibians.

Human activities are also responsible for the decline. These include the introduction of foxes and feral cats, the use of poison baits, timber harvesting, illegal shooting, the clearing of native vegetation, and the application of Compound 1080, a poisonous substance used to control pests.

All of these have had a profound impact on quoll numbers, ultimately resulting in their endangered status.

Reference: Activewild.com


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We are passionate animal enthusiasts with over a decade of experience studying animals. With a degree in zoology and conservation biology, we've contributed to various research and conservation projects. We're excited to bring you engaging content that highlights the wonders of the animal kingdom. We aim to inspire others to appreciate and protect wildlife through informative content grounded in expertise and passion. Join us as we delve into the captivating world of animals and discover the incredible stories they have to tell.

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