Species Fact Sheet

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Quolls
© Bruce Thompson auswildlife.com

Quolls
Four species of quolls occur in Australia (the northern, spotted-tailed, eastern and western quoll) and two species in Papua New Guinea (the bronze quoll and New Guinea quoll). Most parts of Australia were once inhabited by at least one quoll species and they were among the first native animals to be described by European scientists. The tiger quoll, or spotted-tailed quoll, is the largest marsupial carnivore surviving on mainland Australia.

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Did you know?
• Captain Cook collected quolls along the east coast in 1770, and recorded ‘quoll’ as their local Aboriginal name. Quolls were often seen by early settlers, who called them ‘native cat’, ‘native polecat’ and ‘spotted marten’, names based on familiar European animals. Quolls share communal toilet sites, which are located in open spaces. Strangely, quolls may use these sites for marking their territory and for other social functions. Almost all male northern quolls die at about 1 year old, not long after mating.

habitat is fragmented and degraded by stock and introduced species such as rabbits. Adult spotted-tailed quolls have a ‘territory’ of up to 500 hectares, and therefore the loss and fragmentation of habitat are a primary threat to this large marsupial carnivore. Introduced and invasive species The introduction of foxes and cats has had a major impact on many of Australia’s unique species, including quolls. Not only are young quolls at risk of predation by foxes and cats but feral species are also a competitor for food. Foxes were introduced into Australia soon after European settlement and are now well established over most of the non-tropical mainland. Cat arrival is believed to predate European settlement in Australia, with the first thought to have become established from shipwrecks off the coast of Western Australia. They have been associated with the demise of a number of native species. Cane toads have had a major effect on northern quoll populations recently. A recent study in Kakadu National Park found the species was completely gone from sites where cane toads had recently arrived. Altered fire regimes Fires can destroy den sites and habitat vegetation, and decrease the availability of prey for the quolls. A change in the frequency or type of fire can affect quolls.

Distribution and habitat
The four Australian species of quoll occur in different parts of Australia. The spotted-tailed quoll lives in forest, woodland and dense coastal heathland along the east coast of Australia. The eastern quoll was once found throughout south-east Australia but is now presumed extinct on the mainland and only found in open forest, heath, scrubland and agricultural land in Tasmania. The western quoll is found in jarrah forests, drier woodlands and mallee shrubland of south west Australia, but was once found as far east as Victoria. The northern quoll was once found across northern Australia from the Pilbara of Western Australia to south-eastern Queensland. Today it is mainly found in six locations comprising of rocky, sparsely vegetated areas and open woodlands.

Conservation action
Communities, scientists and governments are working together to coordinate the research and management effort. The Threatened Species Network, a communitybased program of the Australian Government and WWF-Australia, has been involved with funding of on-ground quoll conservation projects. These projects have included education and awareness raising activities, habitat restoration, monitoring and surveys and capacity building to enable community groups to become more involved in quoll conservation. For example, the TSN supported the establishment of the Quoll Seekers Network in Queensland which undertakes education and awareness raising activities and undertook a project for quoll-proof fencing of chicken pens to reduce the risk of persecution. WWF has supported quoll conservation through actions such as involvement in policy and on stakeholder reference groups which are considering issues relevant to quoll conservation, providing comments on the development of recovery plans, and working directly with quoll experts to support and secure funding for priority research and conservation action for quolls.

Ecology and life cycle
Quolls are carnivorous marsupials with a pointed nose, a long tail and brown to black fur with distinctive white spots. They are very active animals and usually have sharp teeth. The largest quoll species is the spotted-tailed quoll and it uses its teeth to eat birds, reptiles and other small mammals like bandicoots and possums. The smaller quolls eat prey such as frogs, snakes, insects and fruit. Quolls also eat carrion (dead animals) and sometimes scavenge around campsites and rubbish bins. Quolls are nocturnal, therefore mainly active at night. They spend the day in one of their many dens but can sometimes be found foraging or basking in the sunshine. Their large home ranges can extend for several kilometres in each direction from a smaller core range and the range of a male quoll often overlaps those of several females. Quolls are marsupials and their young develop in a pouch. Only the spotted-tailed quoll has a true pouch like a kangaroo, while the other species have shallow folds of skin where the young quoll or joey nestles. As they grow, they hang from the mother’s belly, and later she carries them on her back.

How you can help
• For landholders, research whether your land is likely to be quoll habitat. Contact your local TSN coordinator for information. Road-related deaths are quite common for this species, as the quoll often scavenges on road kill and thus placed in danger. Take extra care driving through areas of known quoll habitat, especially at night.

Threats
All quoll species have declined in numbers since European settlement in Australia. This is because of habitat loss and fragmentation, and introduced species such as foxes and cane toads. Very little is known about the two species in PNG. Habitat loss Three of the four quoll species in Australia have been greatly affected by habitat loss and this has contributed to the decline in numbers. Most of the habitat loss is due to forestry practices and clearing for agriculture and remaining

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