Animal of the Week: Quokka
By Kathrine Ledermann
Meet the quokka (Setonix brachyurus)! Their closest relatives are the red kangaroo, tammar wallaby, doria’s tree-kangaroo and the Tasmanian pademelon. They’re native to the southwestern areas of Australia, including Rottnest Island, where the climate is temperate and arid. Shrublands and swamps are ideal habitats for the quokka to stay cool in the shade during the day so that they can leave at night to find a meal. They only feed on vegetation and are able to climb trees to reach food. Extra energy is stored as fat in their tails, so they can go days without eating when necessary.
They’re very small animals, weighing around six to nine pounds, and are only about 15-20 inches in length. Despite their size, they’re still able to carry joeys in their pouches for around six months. Usually, female quokkas only have one joey at a time but will carry a few other joeys in her womb in the event the first joey doesn’t survive following birth.
Unfortunately, the quokka has been labelled as “vulnerable,” which is a step before endangered. This is due to predators in their habitats such as dingoes, cats and foxes. About 10,000 quokkas remain on Rottnest Island. To aid in their own survival, they can be found in groups up to 150 on the island and smaller ones on mainland Australia.