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The Western Quoll

The Western Quoll, Dasyurus geoffroii, is also called the Chuditch.   It used to range over about 70 percent of the Australian mainland, including parts of every mainland state as well as the Northern Territory. Now it is confined to part of the south west of Western Australia, living in the forests of Jarrah, Eucalyptus marginata, trees.  This is perhaps only about 5 percent of their previous range.

Size

The Western Quoll can sometimes reach 2 Kilograms (4.4 pounds) in weight, but is usually smaller than this.

Diet

Like all the Quolls, the Chuditch is a carnivore.  For its size it is a mighty hunter.  It eats insects as well as larger prey like lizards, Rabbits frogs, birds, rats, mice and hopping mice.

The will also eat introduced wild and feral animals like Rabbits.

Where there are Humans living they will eat from rubbish bins and can kill chickens.

Although it is primarily a carnivore, it will eat high energy vegetable foods like seeds and fruit.

Predators

Before Humans came to Australia, the main predator of the Western Quoll was probably the Wedge-tailed Eagle.

Now, as well as domestic animals like Dogs and Cats, they are killed by feral Cats and Dogs including the Dingo, and the introduced Red Fox.

Some have also been killed directly by Humans, using a variety of the methods this vicious species uses to kill like poison, trapping and shooting.

Chuditches also get run over by vehicles.

Breeding

The Western Quoll is a Marsupial, but its pouch is less formed than many Marsupials, rather consisting of folds of skin.

The gestation period is only about 16 days.  They only have one litter a year.  These litters may be as large as thirty babies, but the mother only has six teats.  As with other Marsupials, the babies crawl to the mother’s teats and hold on to a teat, drinking milk as they need it.  They stay attached to the teat for some time.  This means that a mother can only raise six babies.  The first six to reach a teat survive.

Vulnerable

There are only about 3000 Western Quolls left in the wild.  There was a high risk of them becoming extinct in the wild soon. 

Recovery

In Western Australia, large scale Fox baiting is occurring.  Western Quolls and many other native animals are making a steady comeback from the brink of extinction.

Life Span

Chuditches can breed at one year old.  One has been recorded as living for six years but it is believed that the average is less than that although the information about this species is contradictory.  Clearly some of the things published include guesses.

Northern Population

The Northern population which was perhaps a separate subspecies is already extinct.  There are not even any of them in captivity.

Bronze Quoll

The Bronze Quoll, Dasyurus spartacus, used to be considered to be of the same species as the Western Quoll.  It has now been classed as a separate species.  This little known Quoll is confined to an area of about 35,000 square kilometres in New Guinea.

However, it has been suggested that the extinct northern population of the Western Quoll might have been more similar to the Bronze Quoll than the existing southern population is.

Sources

http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=330#australian_distribution

http://www.acess.250x.com/Chuditch1.htm

http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=330#australian_distribution

http://www.bees.unsw.edu.au/school/researchstudents/hamiltonsteve.html

http://books.google.com.au/books?id=WI3v4E_Xb-AC&pg=PA145&lpg=PA145&dq=Bronze+Quoll+%28Dasyurus+spartacus%29&source=bl&ots=6MdrOyGhS5&sig=WIrSlZkkYkS635y1JwI_Roo6Zpo&hl=en&ei=7VH0S6LUGpPm7APbt-jiAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CDMQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=Bronze%20Quoll%20%28Dasyurus%20spartacus%29&f=false

By Wade Johanson (originally posted to Flickr as Western Quoll 1) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.