Quolls are small marsupial carnivores that fill a niche somewhat similar to that of martens in the northern hemisphere.
They are dasyurids and are close relatives of the Tasmanian devil and the thylacine.
There are four species of quoll in Australia and two in New Guinea.
One of the Australian quolls is the Eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus). It is currently found only in Tasmania, but its range once included much of the southeastern Australian mainland.
It comes in two distinct morphs.
And a black:
Now, remember when I said these animal were extinct on the Australian mainland?
Well, that’s not exactly accurate.
The last “native” mainland Eastern quoll died in Sydney in 1963. These little marsupials, though called “native cats,” are thought to have suffered greatly when foxes were introduced to Australia. Foxes readily kill them, and because Tasmania has been fox free up until very recently. it was thought that this was why the Eastern quoll has been able to thrive there.
However, there appears to be a population of Eastern quolls living in the state of Victoria. Victoria is within the Eastern quoll’s historical range on the mainland.
These quolls are most likely not a relict population of native Victorian Eastern quolls. They most likely are escapees from Mount Rothwell Conservation and Research Centre near Melbourne. These quolls are breeding in large enclosures at the facility, and it is possible that they get a few escapees every now and then.
But that’s what’s left of the Eastern quoll on the Australian mainland, but there do continue to be lots of sightings of them.
Maybe one day we’ll find a genuine relict population of Eastern quolls on the mainland.
I certainly hope so.
I don’t think the fox can ever be eliminated in Australia.
That genie was let out of the bottle long ago, and it can never be put back.
But fox and cat free areas can be created. Even encouraging dingo populations to expand might play an important role in controlling fox and cat numbers. Dingoes will kill cats and foxes, and that could mean that the quolls and other small native fauna might thrive in dingo-rich habitats.
Australia’s native fauna was essentially doomed the second Europeans encountered the continent.
But parts of the doom can be mitigated.
I hope we can mitigate some of the issues have that have really harmed the quoll of two colors.
Such a bad fate shouldn’t befall such a ridiculously cute and undeniably fascinating animal.