Green Wednesday: Quokka!! (thanks to Chantal for the contribution and the very cute photos!)

on 09 Jan 2013 

The quokka (Setonix brachyurus), the only member of the genus Setonix, is a small macropod about the size of a domestic cat. Like other marsupials in the macropod family the quokka is herbivorous and mainly nocturnal. It has a stocky build, rounded ears, and a short, broad head. It can climb small trees and shrubs. Its coarse fur is a grizzled brown colour, fading to buff underneath.

In the wild, its roaming is restricted to a very small range in the South-West of Western Australia, with a number of small scattered populations on the mainland, one large population on Rottnest Island and a smaller population on Bald Island near Albany.  The islands are free of foxes and cats. On Rottnest, it is common and occupies a variety of habitats ranging from semi-arid scrub to cultivated gardens.  In 1696 Willem de Vlamingh mistook them for giant rats and named the island "Rotte nest", Dutch for "rat nest.

Although numerous on the small offshore islands, it has a very restricted range and is classified as vulnerable. On the mainland, where it is threatened by most introduced predatory species such as foxes, it requires dense ground cover for refuge. Agricultural development has reduced this habitat, and has thus contributed to the decline of the species. Introduced cats and dogs, as well as dingoes, have added to the problem, as have the clearing and burning of the remaining swamplands.