Juvenile eastern quolls, Mole Creek, Tasmania, 2017

EASTERN QUOLL

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The size of a small domestic cat, it’s no wonder the eastern quoll is a favourite marsupial of those lucky enough to see one. Nocturnal by nature, this solitary but bold carnivore usually hunts in open country or woodland. It can occasionally be spotted foraging by day but prefers to spend daylight hours in nests made under rocks in underground burrows or fallen logs.  The eastern quoll has a pointed nose, a bushy tail, is covered in white spots. Eastern quolls have two colour morphs of either a soft fawn or dark colour, so while they may look slightly different, they are exactly the same species. It’s thought that these colour variations are an evolutionary adaptation to increase their chances of survival in the wild.

A female eastern quoll can give birth to a litter of up to six quoll pups a year, and each litter will have a random variation of the dark and light colours. They were once found across much of the southeast mainland of Australia, from the eastern coasts of South Australia, through most of Victoria, to the north coast of New South Wales. Eastern quolls became extinct on the mainland around 50 years ago but remain relatively widespread in Tasmania.

What we're doing

Eastern quoll being released back into the wild in Jervis Bay after a pouch check
Eastern quoll being released back into the wild in Jervis Bay after a pouch check © Rewilding Australia Inc / WWF-Au

NEWS UPDATE: We have babies!

Eastern quoll pups have been born on the Australian mainland for the first time in over 50 years. The baby quolls have been confirmed in three females that were released at Booderee National Park earlier this year.

Female eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus) at the Devils@Cradle conservation facility, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, September 2017.
Female eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus) at the Devils@Cradle conservation facility © WWF-Aus / Madeleine Smitham

Homeward bound

WWF-Australia is working in partnership with Rewilding Australia, Devils at Cradle Wildlife Park, Trowunna Wildlife Park, Parks Australia, the Australian National University and the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council to breed and rewild these mini marsupials.

Two eastern quoll joeys at Trowunna Wildlife Park= Tasmania
© WWF-Aus / Madeleine Smitham

Survival of the species

The breeding program will create a viable insurance population to ensure the survival of the species for generations to come. Together with our partners, we are working to establish the first wild, eastern quoll population on the mainland since their localised extinction 50 years ago.

A rescued baby orangutan holds a WWF shirt after its mother was killed by poachers
A rescued baby orangutan holds a WWF shirt after its mother was killed by poachers © Jikkie Jonkman / WWF

Homeward bound

Over the next three years, groups of male and female eastern quolls will be reintroduced to Booderee National Park in Jervis Bay. The national park has had long-term management of introduced predators such as foxes and cats to help give the pioneering quolls a fighting chance to establish a thriving population where their ancestors once called home. Parks Australia and ecologists from the Australian National University will also be tracking them to ensure their well-being in their new habitat.

Juvenile eastern quolls (Dasyurus viverrinus) at Devils @ Cradle, Tasmania
Juvenile eastern quolls (Dasyurus viverrinus) at Devils @ Cradle, Tasmania © Devils @ Cradle / WWF-Aus

Why it matters

Eastern quolls were once part of the Australian landscape for millions of years.

Their mainland extinction is a sad and serious issue because, as a predator, they perform a valuable role. While the main component of their diet is invertebrates such as spiders, cockroaches and grasshoppers, these small mammals are also impressive hunters. Their appetite for rabbits, mice and rats helps keep the populations of these pests under control and maintains a natural balance in the ecosystem.

Two eastern quoll joeys at the Devils@Cradle conservation facility, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
© WWF-Aus / Madeleine Smitham

Species bio

Common Name

Eastern quoll

Scientific Name

Dasyurus viverrinus

Stats

Male eastern quolls are about the size of a small domestic cat, averaging 60cm in length and 1.3kg in weight; females are slightly smaller.

Status

Endangered - IUCN Red List.Eastern quolls once occurred on mainland Australia, with the last sighting occurring in the Sydney suburb of Vaucluse in the early 1960s. The eastern quoll is still relatively widespread in Tasmania but spotlighting data demonstrates that its population size has declined by an estimated >50% over the past 10 years.

Eastern quoll at the Devils@Cradle conservation facility= Cradle Mountain= Tasmania
© WWF-Aus / Madeleine Smitham

Did you know?

An eastern quoll is capable of taking prey nearly as large as itself.

Threats

The exact reason for their mainland extinction is still unclear, however it’s thought that a combination of feral cats, red foxes, dogs, roadkill, poisoning, trapping plus a widespread epidemic all contributed to the localised extinction of these marsupials.

While the eastern quoll is still reasonably widespread in Tasmania its current main threat remains the cat, and fox on mainland Australia.

What you can do to help

Find out if eastern quolls or other threatened wildlife live near you using WWF-Australia’s ‘My Backyard’ tool, and learn how you can help them thrive again.