An Australian Quoll’s Journey Through Climate Change
Sleeping through the day and active at night, the Australian quoll is a sleek animal with a cat-like body, a mouse-shaped face, lemur-like ears, and white polka-dotted fur. The quoll has approximately six species that vary in weight and sizes, from 11 ounces to 15 pounds. As a carnivorous marsupial, the quoll forages for food at night and avoids the toxic cane toads like the plague.
How Does Climate Change Affect Australia’s Quolls?
Despite their solitary existence and unapologetic eating style, quolls have faced changes in their environment that have endangered their wellbeing and lives. As urbanization continues to grow with more housing, mining, and agriculture, the quolls’ habitat has shrunk. There’s less grass and plant overgrowth for hiding.
Ongoing bush fires also destroy habitat. Meanwhile, humans are harvesting timber and clearing vegetation. This reduces the livable environment and hollowed-out logs for dens.
Quolls also must deal with predators, such as foxes or cats, who also compete with them for the same types of food sources. Cane toads have decimated the quoll population, and accidental ingestion of poison baits for other animals also have caused deaths.
For the most part, quolls have a life span of two to five years, and they grow anywhere between 9 and 29 inches long with hairy tails that extend an additional 7 to 13 inches. During breeding season, females develop a pouch that opens toward the tail for newborns to climb into until fully grown. The larger species tend to live longer than the smaller.
Quolls are commonly loners and only interact with other quolls during mating season or another social activity. They tend to share a communal toilet area, and these areas tend to have 100 or more droppings in them. A male’s territory often overlaps many female territories.
When it comes to eating, quolls will eat almost anything. While small quolls primarily eat insects, birds, lizards, fruit, and frogs, larger quolls may also eat larger reptiles, rabbits, and possums. Quolls find their prey by stalking, using their paws to pin down their meal as they start eating. Also, quolls get their water directly from their food, which makes them very adaptable to water shortages.
Mating season is during the winter months. The gestation period lasts 21 days, and each baby quoll is about the size of a grain of rice. It’s common for the litter to have up to 18 quolls, but only six can survive since the mother quoll only has six nipples. The colonization of Australia has caused extinction for one species of quolls on the Australian mainland, only being found in Tasmania. One of the best ways that people have found to combat the loss of the eastern quoll is by breeding programs in captivity. While the programs have had success, the introduction of the quolls back to the mainland has not gone well. In fact, the quolls were quickly eaten by wild dogs, and researchers believe this is because the quolls forgot to be afraid of predators while in captivity.
While quolls have often been considered as pests by Australians, there are ways that humans can live peacefully alongside these creatures. If you have chickens you wish to protect from quolls, research ways to quoll-proof the hen house without killing. Also, find ways to help protect the parks and forests in your area to support the habitat of these creatures.
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