Quolls live in woodlands and coastal heath of Southeast Australia and New Guinea. They once lived in habitats all across Australia, prior to European colonization. The live primarily on the ground but also have the ability to be arboreal.
While quolls are actually marsupials and are closely related to Tasmanian devils, some popular names for them include “tiger cat”, “native fox”, and “spotted marten”. The name “quoll” began to become popular in the 1960s. It comes from an Aboriginal word “dhigul”, which then was written down as “jaquol” or “taquol”.
Quolls are nocturnal. During the day, they sleep in dens or hollow logs. From time to time, they emerge during the day to hunt. Quolls are carnivores. They mostly eat birds, lizards, and frogs. Some of the larger species of quolls hunt bigger mammals, like possums. They have also been known to eat some fruit. Quolls get all the water they need from their food, which gives them good chances for survival in times of drought. Quolls are also scavengers. They frequently eat carrion such as roadkill.
The gestation period for a female quoll is just three weeks but the pups remain in her marsupial pouch for two months before emerging. Baby quolls are called pups. After the pups leave their mother’s pouch, they ride on her back for another month and a half. In the wild, quolls only live to be a few years old. In captivity, their lifespan is somewhat longer. Most quolls reproduce in the first year of their life. Survival, especially for males, after the first mating season is unlikely.
Quolls face a number of threats that have diminished their population and habitat over the past few hundred years. Their habitats are destroyed by logging and they are at risk from the invasive cane toad. Furthermore, the quoll’s scavenging behavior often puts them close to humans, particularly our roads, so they are in danger of being hit by cars. Poison put out for larger animals like dingoes is sometimes eaten by quolls.
Breeding in captivity has been beneficial to quoll populations. Controlling quoll’s predators, like the fox, practicing sustainable forestry, and teach quolls not to eat cane toads also has led to more quolls being born in the wild.
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