Nature conservation

Native animals

Spotted-tailed quoll

What do they look like?

The spotted-tailed quoll, or tiger quoll, is mainland Australia's largest carnivorous marsupial. It is about the size of a domestic cat, but has shorter legs and a more pointed face than a cat. Its fur is rich red to dark brown, and covered with white spots on the back which continue down the tail. The spotted tail distinguishes it from all other Australian mammals, including other quoll species. However, the spots may be indistinct on young animals.

The average weight of an adult male is about 3,500 grams and an adult female about 2,000 grams.

Where do they live?

The spotted-tailed quoll is found along both sides of the Great Dividing Range from the Victorian to the Queensland borders. Scattered, unconfirmed records of the species have also been reported in the western parts of NSW.

Spotted-tailed quolls live in various environments including forests, woodlands, coastal heathlands and rainforests. They are sometimes seen in open country, or on grazed areas and rocky outcrops. They are mainly solitary animals, and will make their dens in rock shelters, small caves, hollow logs and tree hollows. They use these dens for shelter and to raise young.

These animals are highly mobile. They can move up to several kilometres in a night and may have quite large territories. Within their territories, they will have latrine sites where they defecate. These are often in exposed areas, such as on rocky outcrops.

What do they eat?

Spotted-tailed quolls require large areas of intact vegetation for foraging, and are also agile climbers. They consume a variety of prey including gliders, possums, small wallabies, rats, birds, bandicoots, rabbits, insects and reptiles. They also scavenge on carrion and may take domestic fowl.

Breeding

Breeding season is between April and July. Females breed about once a year, and have a gestation period of 21 days, producing an average litter size of five.  The young are kept in a rudimentary pouch until they are large enough to be left behind in the den while their mother forages for food. Both sexes mature at about one year of age.

Threats

The spotted-tailed quoll is listed as a vulnerable species in NSW. Its distribution and population have dramatically declined, and the animal is now found over a restricted range. In many cases, quolls are living in isolated areas that may be too small to support viable long-term populations. This reduction in distribution and population has been caused by:

  • loss, fragmentation and degradation of suitable quoll habitat through land clearing, change in fire patterns and logging
  • loss of potential den sites such as large hollow logs
  • foxes and cats which prey on quolls and also compete with them for food; feral cats can also spread diseases which affect quolls
  • persecution by humans, who have often blamed quolls for the loss of stock and poultry
  • wild dog baiting programs which may result in quolls being accidentally poisoned.

 

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Page last updated: 09 February 2017