Backyard Buddies
Quoll

Photo: Ken Stepnell/OEH

Quoll

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Quolls are winter breeders, so by August, some babies are ready to leave the mother.

Quolls are meat-eaters at the top of the food chain. They prey on many other species such as gliders, possums, small wallabies, rats, birds, bandicoots, rabbits, insects and carrion.

Female quolls make their dens in tree hollows, logs, rock crevasses and even among building materials. Baby quolls start life as tiny, rice-grain sized embryos which as they grow become very playful but never venture far from mum's side. When they no longer fit in the pouch, they hitch a ride on her back as she forages for grubs - a favourite food for smaller quolls. Depending on the species, quolls may spend up to three months in the pouch and are ready to leave home when they are around five months old.

There are four species of quolls: the spotted-tailed, eastern, western and northern quolls. The spotted-tail quoll or tiger quoll weighs up to five kilograms and is a formidable hunter, catching rabbits, birds, bandicoots, possums and even echidnas for its dinner.

The smaller eastern quoll was once widespread on the mainland but is now found only in Tasmania where it is still relatively common. The rare western quoll is found only in south west Australia, and the northern quoll, now under threat from cane toads, is found across northern Australia.

Spotted-tailed Quolls breed from April to July, and three weeks after mating, up to six baby quolls are born. They remain snugly in mum's pouch, feeding on her milk for seven weeks. By 18 weeks, the babies are fully independent.

The Spotted-tailed Quoll male will sometimes defend the nursery den and bring food to his mate while she cares for the offspring.

The Spotted-tailed Quoll has a distinctive look. With its pointy face and short legs, it looks a bit like a cross between a possum and a cat. It has reddish-brown fur with white spots on its back and a long, long tail. A female's tail can grow up to 42cm, and a male's can grow up to 55cm.

Spotted-tailed Quolls are the 'jack-of-all-trades' of the Australian animal world. They are nocturnal, but they are also sometimes seen hunting or basking in the sunlight during the daylight hours. They spend most of their time on the ground, but they can also expertly scamper up trees to raid possum and glider dens and bird nests.

If your home is close to natural bushland, you may occasionally be visited by a quoll. Territorial by nature, male quolls roam far and wide during the breeding season, and each individual may claim a home territory of several hundred hectares. Being nocturnal, a visit by a quoll will almost certainly be at night. He may perch in a big tree in your backyard. Most likely he will be either a spotted-tail (on the mainland) or eastern quoll (if you live in Tasmania).

Did you know?

The female Quoll's pouch is only temporary - she only develops it during the breeding season each year.

Tip

QUOLL-PROOF YOUR HEN HOUSE

Quolls have a particular taste for fresh chicken, so if you live in an area where quolls are common, it's a good idea to remove the temptation. Then you can still enjoy quolls visiting your backyard without losing your supply of eggs - and chickens.

Make the henhouse secure: leave no gaps between pieces of netting, or between walls, roof and door - quolls are good climbers.

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Quote

”Birds, bugs, lizards and penguins are my favourite Backyard Buddies – I like to find, watch and learn about what they do and what I can do to help them.“

Gus – 11 year old Backyard Buddy, NSW

Photo: OEH