Quokka

The latest, utterly adorable viral craze is taking “selfies” with quokkas! Before this trend began, many people outside of Australia had no clue what a quokka was. These now-famous marsupials are as cute as they are interesting. Read on to learn about the quokka.

Description of the Quokka

Quokkas have a teddy bear-like face, with brown fur, a round nose, rounded ears, and mouth set in a permanent smile. They are approximately the size of a housecat. Quokkas have short front paws, longer rear legs, and a relatively long tail. They look quite similar to a small kangaroo with a very fluffy coat.

Interesting Facts About the Quokka

These adorable animals have garnered plenty of media attention in the past year or two. Affectionately called “the happiest animal in the world,” these little marsupials are as unique as they are lovable!

  • The Macropod Family – Macropod, which means “big foot,” is a taxonomic family that contains kangaroos, wallabies, quokkas, wallaroos, pademelons, and tree-kangaroos. This family of marsupials are kangaroo-like animals native to Australia and the surrounding islands.
  • The Upside to Fame – Becoming an internet sensation has actually been beneficial for quokkas. These furry little creatures are actually declining in population numbers. The widespread love of quokkas has given them a fighting chance for recovery, as the increased public interest has garnered greater protections.
  • Don’t Touch the Quokkas! – Despite the prevalent selfies, you should never handle a quokka, or any wild animal. Not only can this be dangerous to you, as quokkas will bite nosy tourists, it is dangerous to the threatened animals. Feeding or handling these little marsupials can make them sick, and anyone caught touching a quokka will be slapped with a $300 fine.
  • Sacrificial Joey – Female quokkas practice a brutal survival strategy. If they are pursued by a predator, and are in immediate danger, mother quokkas will eject their joey from its pouch. With the joey left behind to distract the predator, the female quokka has time to escape.

Habitat of the Quokka

These marsupials have become very accustomed to humans. They occupy a number of different habitats, from suburban gardens, to semi-arid scrub forest. During the day, quokkas will frequently sleep in spiny Acanthocarpus plants for protection. Some also climb trees to reach additional food or escape predators.

Distribution of the Quokka

Quokkas have a very small distribution area. They are native to a narrow strip of range in southwest Western Australia. They can also be found on Rottnest Island and Bald Island. These islands are free of predators, allowing the quokkas to live peacefully.

Diet of the Quokka

Like all other species in the Macropod family, quokkas are herbivores. They eat a wide variety of vegetation, ranging from shrubs, leaves, and bark, to grasses. They will also steal “people food” from stores, especially when fed by tourists. This is highly discouraged, as human food is unhealthy for these cute little thieves.

Quokka and Human Interaction

Especially on Rottnest Island, quokkas have little fear of humans. This lack of fear can be dangerous for them because they can become sick when eating human food, or contract illnesses from people. The best place to see, and potentially interact with, quokkas is in zoos, including Perth Zoo, Taronga Zoo, Adelaide Zoo, and Wildlife Sydney Zoo.

Domestication

Quokkas have not been domesticated in any way.

Does the Quokka Make a Good Pet

Because they are a protected species, it is illegal to own a quokka as a pet.

Quokka Care

In zoos, quokkas are provided with plenty of space to interact with one another. They may also be provided with climbing opportunities. Zookeepers attempt to provide a diet similar to their wild counterparts. They are provided with all the healthcare they might need, and environmental enrichment opportunities.

Behavior of the Quokka

These animals are nocturnal, which means they are most active at night. They roam in search of food, and interact with others of their kind. Dominant males defend territories, and those territories often overlap with the range of female animals. Gatherings of 25-150 animals are frequently seen around water sources.

Reproduction of the Quokka

After a month-long gestation, female quokkas give birth to a single joey. That joey will remain in the pouch for six months, and even after it leaves the pouch it will continue to nurse. They will spend an additional two or three months nursing from the mother before becoming fully independent.

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