Not many people will argue the fact that few animals are as photogenic as the cute quokka. These Australian critters are about as cute as they come. That being said, I have decided to create an article about them. The quokka (Setonix brachyurus), is a small macropod about the size of a house cat. Like other marsupials in the macropod family (like kangaroos and wallabies), the quokka is mainly nocturnal. But catch em foraging during the day time and be prepared for the ultimate selfie. We’re talking cute overload here. Quokkas are found on 2 smaller islands off the coast of Western Australia, particularly Rottnest Island just off Perth and also Bald Island near Albany and in isolated scattered populations in forest and coastal heath between Perth and Albany.
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Setonix brachyurus
Weight: Up to 11 lbs.
Length: Up to 21 inches
Lifespan: Up to 10 years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) It has a stocky build, well developed hind legs, rounded ears, and a short, broad head. Although looking rather like a very small kangaroo, it can climb small trees and shrubs up to 1.5 meters. Its coarse fur is a grizzled brown color, fading to buff underneath. The quokka is known to live for an average of ten years.
2.) After a month of gestation, females give birth to 1 baby called a joey. Females can give birth 2 times a year and produce approximately seventeen joeys during their life. That’s a lot of babies to be had.
3.) They are known for their ability to climb trees.
4.) Quokkas eat many types of vegetation, including grasses and leaves, thus making them herbivores.
But wait, there’s more on the quokka!
5.) Rottnest Island visitors are urged to never feed quokkas, in part because eating “human food” can cause dehydration and can cause them to become malnourished.
6.) Due to the relative lack of fresh water on Rottnest Island and the quokkas high water requirements, they satisfy most of their hydration needs through eating vegetation.
Did you know…?
When fleeing a predator, mother will eject her baby from her pouch. The freshly launched, baby flails about on the ground, making weird hissing noises and attracting the predator’s attention while the female quokka escapes to live another day. Mother of the year… smh
7.) At the time of colonial settlement, the quokka was widespread and abundant with its distribution encompassing an area of about 15,900 square miles of south-west Western Australia, including the two offshore islands, Bald and Rottnest Island. Following extensive population declines in the twentieth century, by 1992 the quokka’s distribution on the mainland was reduced by more than 50% to an area of about 6,900 square miles!
8.) The quokka has little fear of humans and it is common for quokkas to approach people closely, particularly on Rottnest Island. It is, however, illegal for people to handle them in any way. However, the quokkas have no problem taking selfies with tourists or the locals.
But wait, there’s still more on the quokka!
9.) A quokka’s big feet are tipped with very sharp claws. So just don’t make them angry or you will pay for it!
10.) Inquisitive, appealing, and fearless, quokkas have adapted to human presence in their environment in admirable fashion. Campsites and condos are all fair game for hungry quokkas, who have become notorious for raiding homes in search of late-night snacks. Quokka settlements have sprung up around youth hostels and tourist sites, in other words, where they are assured of an easy meal.
11.) Since their introduction to Australia in the 1930s, foxes have developed a taste for quokkas. Fox and domestic cat predation, land clearing, and the risk of fire or disease spreading through an isolated population are the main threats to the critters.