Quokkas are a small marsupials (mammals that carry their young in a pouch) that belong to the same family as kangaroos and wallabies. They are about the size of a house cat and reach about 5kg (11 lb) in weight and a maximum of 90 cm (35 in) long. They also have a tail which reaches about 30 cm (12 in) long. They have a similar appearance to a small kangaroo or wallaby crossed with a rat. They are capable of climbing trees and are most active at night (nocturnal). The quokka is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation. Let’s find out where this unique species lives.
Where do quokkas live?
Quokkas are only found in Australia and the largest populations are found on the small islands off the southwestern coast of Western Australia. Large populations of this species are located on Rottnest Island, a popular tourist island, and Bald Island near the town of Albany. Small populations of quokkas also live on the mainland in a small section of southwest Western Australia, but it is here they are threatened by introduced species (foxes, dogs and feral cats) as well as dingoes. Some of their original habitat has also undergone deforestation (logging), which reduces the ground cover that this species requires. Fortunately, the island populations of this species are very healthy because no predators have been introduced!
Did you know?
Many of the first Europeans to see this species mistook them for large rats. The name Rottnest island comes from the Dutch word rattennest, which means rat nest!
Bald Island is a class A nature reserve and is a protected area. The island has also been used as a location to translocate critically endangered species. In 2005 a small number of Gilbert’s Potoroo were transferred to this island in an effort to save this species.