Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What is a Quoll?

Quolls are carnivorous marsupials native to Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania. There are six species of quolls, the largest of which are considered apex predators; however they do face predation from nonnative foxes as well as feral dogs and cats.
Depending on species, quolls measure 10 to 30 inches in length and come in a variety of colors and patterns. They are primarily nocturnal and spend their days sleeping in dens consisting of hollowed out logs or rocky overhangs. They are solitary animals that rarely interact except for mating purposes or when using communal latrine areas in overlapping territories.

Quolls hunt a wide variety of small and medium sized mammals, birds, frogs, lizards and insects, as well as taking advantage of carrion whenever it is available. Common prey usually consists of possums, rabbits and hares. Quolls can extract all of the water they need from the food they eat, allowing them to survive long periods of drought.
The quoll’s biggest animal enemy is not a predator, but actually a prey animal. In the 1930’s Australia introduced a population of over 60,000 nonnative cane toads to help reduce destructive beetle populations. The cane toads make easy prey for quolls, but are toxic to them and cause almost instant death when consumed, reducing the quoll population significantly in recent decades. The Australian government is currently working to eradicate cane toads and come up with methods to persuade quolls not to eat them.

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