Western Quolls are a feisty marsupial predator. Their addition to Arid Recovery has helped achieve a balanced ecosystem.
What is Arid Recovery Doing?
In 2015/16, we trialled a reintroduction of the western quoll (Dasyurus geoffroii) to test if the species was suited to life at Arid Recovery. The reintroduction was a success, with two female and two male western quolls establishing territories and breeding. We hope that reintroducing a native predator to the reserve may help re-establish important ecological processes and predator-prey dynamics.
After two years of trials and research, we reintroduced 12 quolls into the outback in May 2018 – eight females and four males. So how have they gone? In short, very well. Check out our blog for all the details.
Range and Abundance
The western quoll once inhabited over 70% of the continent. Its range extended from western Queensland and NSW across central Australia to the WA coastline. Following European settlement, the western quoll disappeared from most of its former range and is now only found naturally in the jarrah forests, woodlands and mallee shrublands of south-western WA.
The decline of the western quoll was caused by factors including habitat modification through altered fire regimes and land clearing. Feral cats and foxes have also contributed to the western quoll’s decline. Additionally, western quolls are likely to be in direct competition with feral cats and foxes for the same food resources.
The Western Quoll currently only occupies 2% of its former range and is now listed nationally as vulnerable.
Western quolls shelter in hollow logs or burrows. Western quolls at Arid Recovery mostly shelter in bettong warrens and single entrance burrows.
Males and females only come together to mate. They have large home ranges to find suitable shelter and sufficient prey. In WA, female home ranges are 55-120ha and are vigorously defended. Males’ home ranges are even larger and usually overlap with both male and female home ranges.
Western quolls feed on a range of prey including large invertebrates, reptiles, mammals and birds. They kill larger prey with a bite to the back of the head. They primarily forage on the ground, but can also climb trees to find prey.
Western quolls can give birth to up to six young. The young are kept in the mother’s pouch until between two to three months of age. The mother then leaves the young in the den while she goes out to feed. The young are weaned at about five to six months and are fully mature at one year.
Western quolls are highly promiscuous. Females may mate with several males during a breeding season, and males cover a lot of ground. Research at Arid Recovery has confirmed multiple paternity in the species, where individual baby quolls from the same litter can have different fathers - read the blog here.