The Quokka (Setonix brachyurus), the only member of the genus Setonix, is a small macropod about the size of a domestic cat.
What has this to do with breakfast? Well I took this photograph at 06:30 so I suppose the Quokka was having its breakfast.
Like other marsupials in the macropod family (such as the kangaroos and wallabies), the Quokka is herbivorous and mainly nocturnal. It can be found on some smaller islands off the coast of Western Australia, in particular on Rottnest Island just off Perth and Bald Island near Albany. A small mainland colony exists in the protected area of Two Peoples Bay, where they co-exist with Gilbert’s Potoroo.
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.
It weighs 2.5 to 5 kg and is 40 to 90 cm long with a 25 to 30 cm tail — which is rather short for a macropod. It has a stocky build, rounded ears, and a short, broad head. Although looking rather like a very small, dumpy kangaroo, it can climb small trees and shrubs. Its coarse fur is a grizzled brown colour, fading to buff underneath.
The Quokka has no fear of humans and it is common for it to approach them closely, particularly on Rottnest Island. It is, however, illegal for members of the public on Rottnest Island to handle the animals in any way. An infringement notice carrying a A$300 fine can be issued by the Rottnest Island Authority for such behaviour. However, prosecution of the offence can result in a fine of up to $2000.
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.
The Quokka was one of the first Australian mammals seen by Europeans. The Dutch mariner Samuel Volckertzoon wrote of sighting “a wild cat” on Rottnest Island in 1658. In 1696 Willem de Vlamingh mistook them for rats and named the island “Rotte nest”, Dutch for “rat nest”.
- The Wonders of Rottnest Island (aroundtheworldwithmichellenpete.wordpress.com)
- Catch to Kill Order After Another Shark Attack off Rottnest Island (aboutashark.wordpress.com)
- Day 4 Bunbury – Fremantle (anmm.wordpress.com)