Western quoll

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Western quoll[1]
Chuditch at Caversham Wildlife Park.png
A western quoll at Caversham Wildlife Park, Western Australia.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Marsupialia
Order: Dasyuromorphia
Family: Dasyuridae
Genus: Dasyurus
Species: D. geoffroii
Binomial name
Dasyurus geoffroii
Gould, 1841
Western Quoll Range.JPG
Western Quoll range

The western quoll (Dasyurus geoffroii) is one of many mammals native to Australia. It is also known as the chuditch (/ˈʊdɪ/) in Western Australia (from Noongar djooditj[3]); chuditch serves as both the singular and plural form. Other common names include atyelpe or chilpa (from Arrernte[4]), kuninka (from Western Desert language[5]), idnya (Adnyamathanha people of the Flinders Ranges[6]) and the archaic western native cat.

It is currently classed as near-threatened.

Description[edit]

The western quoll is about the size of a medium to large domestic cat. It is coloured a rufous brown with numerous white spots on its back and has a creamy white underside. There are five toes on its hind feet and granular pads.[7] The head and body average about 330 mm in length, with the tail averaging another 280 mm. Males typically weigh around 1.3 kg, and females 0.9 kg.

Like the eastern quoll and northern quoll, it has a white-spotted brown coat and a long tail. Often confused with eastern quoll, it differs in possessing a first toe on the hind foot and a darker tail.

Behaviour[edit]

A solitary, mostly terrestrial nocturnal predator, the western quoll is most active around dusk (crepuscular). It moves swiftly on the ground, climbs efficiently, and may dig or occupy existing burrows.

It has a diet of small vertebrates, carrion, arthropods, and freshwater crayfish, among other things. The breeding season is from April to July.[8]

Habitat[edit]

Once found across 70% of the Australian continent,[9] the western quoll's current distribution is now confined to south-western corner of Western Australia, although there are ongoing attempts to re-establish it in parts of its former range.[10] It there inhabits wet and dry sclerophyll forests, including the Jarrah Forest, and mallee.[8]

A five-year trial re-introduction of western quoll to the Flinders Ranges in South Australia began in April 2014.[6] Despite the loss of about a third of the first release population (mostly due to predation by feral cats), most of the surviving females bred and sixty joeys were born. As of 2015, a second batch of releases is planned.[11]

Taxonomy[edit]

The western quoll was described by John Gould in 1841, when it was still widespread throughout the continent. Its species name, geoffroii, refers to the prominent French naturalist Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, who named the genus Dasyurus in 1796. The species has occasionally been placed in the genus Dasyurinus.[7]

The western quoll is a member of the family Dasyuridae and is most closely related to the bronze quoll (Dasyurus spartacus), a recently described species from New Guinea that was for some time believed to be an outlying population of the western quoll.

Related Campaigns[edit]

The Switch The Future campaign to reduce electricity use in Western Australia features a computer-generated chuditch called Sparky running in a hamster wheel dynamo.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Groves, C.P. (2005). Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 25. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. 
  2. ^ Morris, K., Burbidge, A. & Hamilton, S. (2008). Dasyurus geoffroii. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
  3. ^ Rooney, Bernard (2011). Nyoongar Dictionary. Batchelor Press. p. 20. ISBN 9781741312331. 
  4. ^ Henderson, John; Henderson, Veronica (1994). Eastern and Central Arrernte to English Dictionary. IAD Press. p. 326. ISBN 0949659746. 
  5. ^ Goddard, Cliff (1996). Pitjantjatjara/Yakunytjatjara to English Dictionary. IAD Press. p. 48. ISBN 0949659916. 
  6. ^ a b Staight, Kerry (26 April 2014). "Helping Hand". Landline. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Serena, M.; Soderquist, T. (1995). "Western Quoll". In Strahan, Ronald. The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books. pp. 62–64. 
  8. ^ a b Menkhorst, Peter (2001). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia. Oxford University Press. p. 48. 
  9. ^ "Dasyurus geoffroii — Chuditch, Western Quoll". Retrieved 2015-09-17. 
  10. ^ "Western quolls – Reintroducing the species to the Flinders Ranges (SA)". Retrieved 2015-09-17. 
  11. ^ Staight, Kerry (7 February 2015). "More rare western quolls to be released in SA after successful start to reintroduction project". ABC News online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  12. ^ "About the Chuditch". switchthefuture.com.au. Retrieved 2012-07-29.