Quoll, Eastern

   Dasyurus viverrinus

Dasyurus viverrinus

Male eastern quolls are about the size of a small domestic cat averaging 60 cm in length and 1.3 kg in weight; females are slightly smaller. They have thick, soft fur in two colour phases – fawn or black, both with small white spots covering the body except for the bushy tail, which may have a white tip. Compared to the related spotted-tail quoll, the eastern quoll is slightly built with a pointed muzzle. Eastern quolls, (or native cat as they are sometimes called), are now considered extinct on the mainland. The species, fortunately, is widespread and locally common in Tasmania.

Breeding

Breeding occurs in early winter. After a gestation period of 21 days, females give birth to up to 30 young. However, the pouch contains only six teats, limiting survival to the young which can first attach themselves to these teats. After about 10 weeks the young are left in grass-lined dens located in burrows or hollow logs leaving the female free to hunt and forage. If the female needs to move to a different den she carries the young along on her back. Towards the end of November, when the young are 18 to 20 weeks old, they are weaned and become independent of the female. Within the first year they have reached sexual maturity and begin breeding.

Behaviour

The eastern quoll is largely solitary, is found in a variety of habitats including rainforest, heathland, alpine areas and scrub. However, it seems to prefer dry grassland and forest mosaics, which are bounded by agricultural land, particularly where pasture grubs are common. Eastern quolls are nocturnal and only occasionally forage or bask during daylight. During the day they sleep in nests made under rocks, in underground burrows or fallen logs.

Diet

The eastern quoll is an opportunistic carnivore that takes live prey and scavenges. The eastern quoll is an impressive hunter, taking small mammals such as rabbits, mice and rats. However, the main component of its diet is invertebrates, especially agricultural pests such as the cockchafer beetle and corbie grub. Carrion and some fruits are also eaten.

Status

The species is wholly protected by law.