Quokkas of Rottnest Island in Australia


From National Wildlife magazine in the USA:

The Quokka Chronicles

By Robert Dunn

Just off the coast of Australia, Rottnest Island is the last safe haven for a diminutive kangaroo whose fate mirrors that of many of the continent’s native marsupials

IT WAS NEARLY 200 years after Christopher Columbus voyaged to America that the first Europeans “discovered” Australia.

On maps, the continent was marked only by a thin line, a smudge of unknown at the south end of the Earth believed to harbor mysterious creatures such as troglodytes and mermaids.

Willem De Vlamingh, one of the first European explorers to reach Australia’s shores, did not find any mermaids.

But on an island just off the continent’s west coast, the Dutchman did encounter an animal, now called the quokka, nearly as unusual.

Described by De Vlamingh as a “kind of rat as big as a common cat,” the quokka was the first kangaroo ever described by European naturalists—a leaf on a diverse branch of life, the marsupials, long separated from all other animals on Earth.

Unlike the vast majority of the world’s mammals, known as placental mammals, marsupial females give birth to tiny, four- to five-week-old embryos that complete development outside their mothers’ bodies in a pouch, or marsupium.

De Vlamingh was so impressed by marsupial quokkas that he named their island home Rottenest—or “rat nest”—later shortened to Rottnest.

Just 15 miles west of the city of Perth, Rottnest Island today is visited by thousands of people a year eager to see the diminutive kangaroos, which, like most of Australia’s native marsupials, have nearly vanished from the mainland habitats they once roamed.

What do spotted-tailed quoll Dasyurus maculatus eat? Here.


6 thoughts on “Quokkas of Rottnest Island in Australia

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