Passion Research

The Quoll

The cutest carnivore ever

Introduction

The quoll is a carnivorous marsupial native to Tasmania, Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. The scientific name is Dasyurus which is Greek for “hairy-tail” They were given their name by George Shaw in 1800. Originally they were named Dasyurus Maculatus by Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, but that name is now given to the tiger quoll. Quoll is a name given to the animals by the Guugu Yimithirr people of Australia. Variations of the name are “je-quoll”, “jaquol”, or “taquol” Early settlers called them the “native cat” or “tiger cat”  There are six common species, but four extinct species have been discovered. The species that are currently living are the northern quoll, the eastern quoll, the western quoll, the tiger quoll, the bronze quoll, and the New Guinean quoll. The northern quoll is currently  endangered as is the eastern quoll. The western quoll, tiger quoll, and bronze quoll are only “near threatened.”

 

The Northern Quoll

The northern quoll was first noted in 1842 by artist and ornithologist John Gould who was known as a Australian animal enthusiast. He named them hallactus and they were laters classified under the genus Dasyurus  giving the full name  Dasyurus Hallactus.

The northern quoll is found from Pilbara  to Queensland which is a stretch of land across the Northern coast of Australia. Since European settlers moved in the territory of the northern quoll has decreased drastically.  They prefer the dense eucalyptus forests and rocky mountains. They make their dens in tree hollows, logs, termite mounds, and small caves.

Out of the four native Australian quoll species the northern quoll is the smallest. They are sexually dimorphic which means males are larger than females. Females weigh from half to a full pound and measure from four to twelve inches. Males will can reach up to two pounds, but on average are only one and a half. Their maximum length being fourteen inches.The tails usually are half of the body length of the quoll. Their short and thick fur is a beaver brown color and is covered in white spots on their back and behind while their underside is thinner and is a cream color.  The fluffy, long-haired  tail is commonly a darker brown than most of the fur. The northern quoll has a pointed snout, pink nose, and rounded ears resembling ones of a mouse.  They have five digits on both front and back feet. Males have a shorter lifespan than females while only living one to two years and females will live up to three years.

They are omnivorous creatures, although always favoring meat. They mainly eat insects, but occasionally consume small mammals such as snakes, birds, and frogs. They have been known to ingest cane toads which are toxic and are a reason for the major decline in northern quoll population.  Just like most of their marsupial cousins they are also scavengers and will happily feast on garbage as well.

Mating occurs during May and June, the dry season. Females are extremely territorial when it comes to their breeding ground. They are known to mark their space by leaving feces as a warning to other females and an invitation to males. Females will mate with multiple males during breeding season. They will meet together during the night at the female’s den.  Males will attempt to mate with as many females as possible since they die after only two weeks of mating. They experience loss of fur and weight as well as being more prone to parasites before they die. Pregnancy only lasts for a couple weeks and happens between late May and early August. Before they are ready to give birth the mother will like a saliva-like mucus trail to her pouch so that the lucky joeys can attach themselves to one of her eight teats. The mother will give birth on average to five to eight joeys. Although it is possible to give birth to up to twenty it is very unlikely.  Newborn joeys only weigh eighteen milligrams and are five centimeters in length. Mothers will retreat to more densely forested areas while carrying young in hopes to keep them safer from predators. Joeys are allowed to leave the pouch for short periods of time once they reach two months old. They are finally able to leave the pouch for good at four months. The joeys reach full size at seven months and are able to reproduce one a year old.

Northern quolls are antisocial, shy creatures who prefer alone time. Females  have a home range of up to eighty five acres while males home range can be up to two hundred forty four acres.  Rarely do two quoll’s home ranges overlap, they are very territorial animals. Female quolls may inherit their mother’s home range after she passes, but usually young have to scout out their own dens. Northern Quolls are nocturnal and can become lethargic during the morning hours. They are able to speak with each other at thirty five days of age, but they are unable to hear until sixty five days old. The noises they use to communicate are commonly described as a hissing noise

Predators of the northern quoll are dingos, feral cats, large snakes, and large birds. Northern quolls have a benefit to humans. They could help farmers with pest controls as pests are their favorite meal. They can be domesticated and kept as farm animals. They are considered an endangered species in Tasmania and Australia.

 

The Eastern Quoll

Dasyurus viverrinus is the scientific name given to the eastern quoll. Viverrinus means ferret-like. The founder of the name is not known.

At one point the eastern quoll lived in Australia, Tasmania, King Island, and Kangaroo Island. They are now extinct in mainland Australia, but are found in Tasmania. Many sightings have occurred in New South Wales suggesting there may be a small population there. They enjoy living in rainforests and woodlands. The eastern quoll thrives in environments where there is an average rainfall of twenty three inches a year. They build their dens in caves and trees.

The eastern quoll is commonly called the native cat as they resemble the size of one. Females weigh from one to two pounds and males from one and a half to three and half pounds. Their head and body length ranges from thirteen to seventeen inches and tail length from eight to twelve inches. The fur is usually dark brown or black and covered with white spots while their bellies are lighter tan. Not always, but on occasion the tails may have a white tip. They have pink ears and nose that comes to a point. They have a thick muzzle filled with sharp teeth. The eastern quoll lacks a first toe on the hind foot and are flat unlike other species. The eastern quoll will live average seven years in captivity and average five years in the wild. The oldest eastern quoll living in the wild recorded lived six years.

Eastern quolls are nocturnal, omnivorous hunters. They mainly prey on small vertebrates such as rabbits, marsupials, birds, and mice. They also eat invertebrates, dead animals, and on occasion vegetables. Their prefrerred foods are cockshafers, corbies, and fruit. They obtain their prey by sinking their teeth into the neck of their meal.

Breeding season occurs between late fall and early winter and will only breed once in their life. They are pregnant for twenty to twenty four days. Females will give birth to up to thirty joeys although she only has six to eight teats to nurture with. Joeys are allowed to leave the pouch occasionally once they reach eight weeks and are fully released at eighteen weeks of age. Joeys are able to reproduce one they are a year old.

Much like most of the species eastern quolls are solitary animals who sleep during the day and hunt at night. Occasionally they are seen sunbathing during the day or foraging vegetation. They are mainly terrestrial animals, but have been seen to climb trees in moments of distress or curiosity.

 

The eastern quoll is threatened by the Tasmanian devil, feral cats, dogs, and foxes. They are poached illegally and poisoned because of their desire for live poultry living on farms. They are also commonly killed in vehicular accidents. The destruction of the forests has also lead to the decline in their population. They are listed as an endangered species in Tasmania and as a law it is illegal to kill them.  They do have a positive benefit  by removing animal carcasses and pests such as mice and insects. As well as being a fascinating animal and a motivation for Tasmanian tourism.

 

The Western Quoll

The western quoll, Dasyurus Geoffroii. The name refers to Etienne Geoffroy Saint- Hilaire who was a French naturalist and named the species in 1796. The western quoll was a symbol for the Aboriginal people. The quoll was a part of their mythology and also an important food source.

The western quoll can be found in southwestern Australia although at one point they could be found in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. Their favorite environment is the Jarrah forest. The forest is composed of many biomes such as lowland, woodland, and open shrub area. Before the decline in population the western quoll’s habitat used to include the parched desert-like central area of Australia.

The western quoll is commonly brown, but rarely they are known to have black fur with white spots scattered around their backs. They fur on their faces and bellies  is much lighter than their body color and their ears are rimmed with white. Their eyes are large and round as well as are their ears, completed with brown noses and a pointed snout. They are slenderly built, with stubby legs. In body length they grow from fourteen to eighteen inches, making the size of the average housecat. Their squirrel-like tails are eight to eleven inches long. They weigh from one and a half pounds to three pounds. As well as the other species of quoll the females will prevalently be smaller than the males. The western quoll is found to live an average of three years in the wild and five years in captivity.

Their diet is a wide range of different foods. While living in forested areas they are found to eat small mammals, crustaceans, medium sized birds, reptiles and insects. Western quolls that inhabit the more savanna of Australia are found to eat larger animals like snakes or rabbits although they still enjoy to snack on bugs. When settled in a human infested area the quoll is known to kill chickens and dig through garbage cans. They are primarily nocturnal, ground foraging hunters, but can be spotted in the daytime when presented with easy prey. When killing larger prey the quoll uses the art of surprise attack and bites the back of the neck.

Alike the eastern quoll the western quoll mates during the dry season between May and July, peak time being June. Female quolls will be pregant for sixteen to twenty three days and will give birth to two to six joeys once a year. They quoll joeys remain within their mother’s pouch for seven to fifteen weeks until they are too big to stay. Once they have left the pouch the joeys will live in their mother’s den while she provides them with food. Joeys are fully developed, except for sexually at eighteen weeks, but are seen leaving the den at twenty three or twenty four weeks old. Western quolls reach sexual maturity at one year of age.

The western quoll is an extremely territorial and independent creature. They enjoy roaming about at night and resting in the sun during the daytime. Although male and female home ranges may overlap they only meet with each other during breeding season. Young quolls make homes in mid to late fall. Dens usually are found in abandoned nests made by other animals, tree hollows, or piles of stone. You will be able to tell when a quoll lives  somewhere if there are piles of bones and remains of animals as they eat in their “home” You could say they don’t particularly enjoy eating out. Western quolls are hard to spot due to the reduction of their habitat since humans have inhabited Australia.

Predators of the western quoll include large birds of prey, feral cats, and recently introduced European foxes. These animals also are competition for food. The habitat of the western quoll has been largely destroyed due to controlled fires frequently performed and use of pesticides by farmers on their crops which the quolls like to munch on. The western quoll can be beneficial to farmers by controlling pests, but they can also be one by consuming small livestock. The perth zoo has had great success in breeding the western quoll and releasing them. In various locations laws have been passed to attempt to preserve these important marsupials.

 

The Tiger  Quoll

Dasyurus maculatus also known as the spotted-tails quoll means spotted. The tiger quoll was discovered by Robert Kerr a Scottish writing and naturalist who originally placed it in the genus didelphis which includes the american opossum. There are two subspecies of the tiger quoll, one found in queensland to southern tasmanian named dasyurus maculatus maculatus and another found in northeastern Queensland named dasyurus maculatus gracilis.

The tiger quoll is found throughout south eastern Australia and all throughout Tasmania. This quoll is not picky about which habitat they prefer. They can be found in dry and wet biomes such as sclerophyll, riparian forests as well as rain forests. The tiger quoll finds shelter in open flat land, woodland, swamps, and rocky areas. They enjoy canopied cover where their young can be sheltered from prey, but when alone they like to make their den anywhere that’s far from another quoll. Although they do have a preference to dens made of rock rather than dens made of wood. The tiger quoll is found in areas with an elevation from sea level to 5,000 feet.

Tiger quolls have rusty red-brown fur as well as the quoll’s distinctive white spots which unlike other species, travel all the way down their tail, living up to their other name, spotted-tail quoll. They have a more rounded, thick snout with a pink nose and small black eyes. The tiger quoll has a more pointed ear shape that is the same color as the rest of their fur. Their underbelly and backsides of their limbs is a lighter, cream color. Males body length usually measure out from fourteen to thirty inches with tail length being fourteen to twenty one inches. Their tails can something be more than half of their body size. Males weigh up to seven pounds making them the largest species of quoll. Females are thirteen to seventeen inches in body length and twelve to sixteen inch tails. Females typically have a closer tail length to body length ratio. Females usually can be as heavy as four pounds. The heaviest recorded tiger quoll weighed fiteen pounds. Tiger quolls live two to four years in the wild and three to five years in captivity.

 

The tiger quoll is the largest carnivorous marsupial on mainland Australia while the Tasmanian devil is reigns supreme on Tasmania. Being the largest quoll they have a greater selection of food. They are known to consume large animals such as sugar gliders, rabbits, bandicoots, pademelons, and ringtail possums. Not an animals to just stick to the largest prey they can eat the tiger quoll also eats insects, birds, and reptiles. Their diets are different in the summer than the winter. They consume more mammalian prey in winter than summer and the reason why is not known.

Mating occurs during April and July, which is Australia’s winter months. The female tiger quoll has a short estrous period of three to four days so when she is ready she becomes desperate to find a mate. She will leave her scent near the den of a male quoll so he is notified that he has a female suitor that wishes to mate with him. When the male comes to find the female to mate they make noises to each other indicating what they want to do. They do a bit of a dance before mating. While mating occurs the male quoll will bite onto the female’s neck and dig his claws into her side to brace himself. On occasion the female is unintentionally killed during mating.  Breeding can last for a couple of hours to a whole twenty four.  The female tiger quoll will be pregnant for three weeks. Average litter size is five joeys while the mother is able to care for six. Once born the quoll joeys are less than a centimeter in size, about a grain of rice. They will develop inside the mother’s pouch for twelve weeks and then leave the pouch to stay in the den. Once they are eighteen to twenty one weeks old they tiger quoll’s are fully independent and set off to build their own den. Tiger quolls reach sexual maturity at a year old.

Tiger quolls are self-reliant solitary creatures. Female quolls do allow males to overlap home ranges as males require a much larger space. The same rules do not apply to two female tiger quolls sharing a home range unless they are related. Male quolls do tolerate sharing with another male though. A male home range can be anywhere from 4,300 acres to 9,300 acres while a female’s home range is usually 1,100 acres to 2,800 acres. To display dominance over a territory tiger quolls will leave their scent on the barrier of their home range. To communicate with offspring mother’s will use a clucking sound. When feeling threatened quolls make growls, hisses, and screeches.  

Although mainly terrestrial the tiger quoll is known to climb trees when faced with a predator. The main threats to tiger quolls are feral cats, wild dogs, foxes, and humans. The tiger quoll is listed as near threatened. The decline in their population is due to ecosystem destruction and urbanization of their habitats. They also fall prey to poisoned traps set out for dingos in more human-dense areas. Currently there has not been made any conservation law to protect the tiger quoll.

 

The Bronze  Quoll

The dasyurus spartacus was discovered in the early 1970’s, but only fully recognized and named in 1988  by Dr. Van Dyck an animal specialist at the Queensland museum.

The bronze quoll can be found in the trans-fly area of New Guinea which consists of grasslands and savannas. They can be found in areas from zero to 67o miles above sea level. The bronze quoll is also found in Indonesia. Their habitat is reduced to high ground during the wet season when rain covers the lowlands.

The bronze quoll is known to feed on livestock, garbage, small mammals, and insects.

They are thought to be seasonal breeders, although not much is known about their reproduction.

They are terrestrial, nocturnal creatures that live about three years.

Feral dogs and cats are a big threat to the bronze quolls. The habitat of this quolls has been affected by regulated burning of the trans-fly region.

 

New Guinean quoll

Dasyurus albopunctatus is a quoll closely related to the Bronze quoll. Along with that not much is known about it either.

The New Guinean quoll is found throughout northern New Guinea. It enjoys heavily forested highlands at elevations from 3,000 to 11,000 feet.  

This quoll is a very small species usually weighing only just one pound. The fur is dark brown or black with white spots extending over their back, but not onto their tail. The New Guinean quoll is often referred to as the “native cat,” “marsupial cat,” or “tiger cat.” It has ridged paw pads, possibly an adaptation from spending time in the trees.

The New Guinean quoll has an extensive diet. Consisting of birds, insects, reptiles, and small mammals. Sometimes they feed on prey that is larger than themselves.

Although nocturnal creatures they love to spend the daylight basking in the sun while having a nice rest. They make their dens in tree hollows, small caves, or rocky banks. The longest recorded lifespan of a New Guinean quoll kept in captivity is three years. The lifespan of one in the wild is unknown.

The population of New Guinean quolls is thought to be decreasing due to human expansion and hunting. They are threatened by the competition for food by feral cats, dogs, and foxes as well as being prey to them.