From National Wildlife magazine in the USA:
The Quokka Chronicles
By Robert Dunn
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.
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.