Australia has no shortage of marvellous critters. Its unique range of fauna is famous around the globe. Most are highly aware of Australia’s kangaroos, wallabies, dingoes, platypi and koalas. But there are still many lesser-known varmints found nowhere else. One gorgeous example of these is Australia’s own Tiger Quoll.
Nowadays, the tiger quoll is found in Eastern Australia, though it occupied a much larger territory before European colonisation of Australia. While at first glance it might look like rather mouse-like, the tiger quoll is actually much larger than your standard rodent. In fact, it is the longest (but not largest) carnivorous marsupial at up to 933mm in length. What’s more, it’s a pretty serious carnivore. Far from subsisting solely on insects or worms, tiger quolls often go after much bigger game. They’re known to hunt small birds, platypi, wallabies and even scavenge kangaroos, dingoes and cattle. They also have tails the lengths of their bodies, though, unlike possums, these are not prehensile. This means that they can’t use their tails to hang from branches and have to rely on their sturdy claws instead.
These nocturnal predators were hunted down in great numbers as Australia was settled by Europeans and they were thought to be completely wiped out until their rediscovery in 2012. In fact, sightings are so rarely seen by humans that researchers have recently looked into using dogs to track tiger quolls by the scent of their leavings. The researchers involved in the study are enthusiastic that the results have largely been positive. 50-70 percent of the attempts to locate tiger quolls by their droppings were successful and Emma Bennett, a PhD candidate at the Monash School of Biological Sciences sees the potential for others to use similar methods for scientific study of, not just tiger quolls, but other endangered species in the region. Naturally, there is also the risk that unqualified quoll-seekers or those with less altruistic intentions could also attempt to track down the animals using dogs and so certain precautions should perhaps be taken to prevent just anybody from heading to their habitat of Great Otway National Park with their dogs for a quoll-hunt.
Hopefully, this renewed interest in the tiger quoll will help keep the species from disappearing on us again, because who knows if it could manage a second revival.