Light Future Art is taking a look today at “The World’s Happiest Animal”: the quokka!
1. Because quokkas look like they are always smiling, they have earned the nickname “World’s Happiest Animal”. But that’s just how their mouths are shaped. They open their mouths to pant when it gets too hot, which only adds to the smile look.
2. Quokkas are marsupials and care for their babies in their pouch. Quokkas only have a single joey (a baby quokka) at a time. The joeys live with their mothers for about six months before hopping off on their own.
3. On Rottnest and Baldy Islands, where Quokkas are native, they frequently wander into stores and restaurants. There is a $150 fine for feeding a quokka, but they haven’t given up yet. They also probably like to watch humans because they find us entertaining.
4. Quokkas live together for safety reasons but they are not social. They don’t participate in social activities like playing and forage for food on their own.
5. Quokkas are nocturnal. They are sometimes active in the late evening or early morning, so that is the best time to see them. During the day, quokkas find a safe space to shelter and sleep.
6. The diet of a quokka consists of leaves, grass, stems, and tree bark. However, they can live for quite a while without any food or water because they store fat in their tail.
7. Quokkas are small and light enough to be able to climb trees to get food. They are about the size of a house cat, but often appear much smaller.
8. Not being very social, quokkas don’t have many sounds which they use to communicate with one another. When they’re being threatened, they might make some involuntary noises of fear but don’t threaten back by growling or hissing.
9. Quokkas no longer only live in their natural habitat of Rottnest Island and Baldy Island. They also live in Europe and in Mainland Australia.
10. Rottnest Island was named after quokkas. Dutch colonists first believed that the quokkas were large rats and named their island “Rattennest”, which then got shortened over time. Prior to this, some believed them to be cats. The name quokka comes from a Nyungar word “gwaga”.
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