Have you heard the news? It seems that the endangered Tiger Quoll has made a reappearance in our region.
ABC Radio’s World Today Program this week announced the first confirmed sighting of the critically endangered species in a decade, with holidaymakers near Lorne catching a glimpse of an endangered marsupial.
Matt Moreton and Joanne Wood heard a thud on their back deck last month. When the couple went outside to investigate, they saw an unusual animal which resembled an oversized, ginger and white spotted possum.
Mr. Moreton and Ms. Wood collected samples shortly after the animal defecated outside their laundry door. Tests on the animal’s faeces by the Cape Otway Conservation Ecology Centrehave confirmed that it was in fact a Tiger Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus).
Ms. Wood told the Geelong Advertiser she had never seen anything like the marsupial before.
Click here to access the Geelong Advertiser Article (includes a very cute photo of a baby Tiger Quoll!).
What does this sighting mean for the fate of Tiger Quolls?
This sighting indicates there are still some isolated populations of Tiger Quoll in the Otway Ranges.
The Cape Otway Conservation Ecology Centre is training dogs to detect Tiger Quoll faeces. Locating their faeces will result in more effective conservation efforts and will hopefully lead to more sightings in the future.
What are Tiger Quolls?
They are the largest carnivorous marsupial remaining on mainland Australia. Tiger Quolls have a red-brown to dark brown fur and are covered with distinct white spots which vary in size. They have sharp teeth and a long snout and tail.
Tiger Quolls mostly hunt at night as they are nocturnal creatures. The majority of their diet consists of gliders, possums, rabbits, and even small wallabies. Their diet also consists of carrion (dead animals), birds, eggs, reptiles and invertebrates.
They become completely independent of their mothers at 18 months old and have a life span of about five years.
In the past, Tiger Quolls were commonly found in south-eastern Australia and Tasmania. Unfortunately since European settlement, they have become an endangered species.
Check out what a Tiger Quoll looks like in this short YouTube clip.
Why are Tiger Quolls threatened?
There are few areas where Tiger quolls can exist without being affected by humans. So, they are particularly susceptible to a number of threats including land clearing, introduced species, baits and fire.
Tiger Quolls are found in a variety of dense habitats from rainforests to woodlands. They prefer to live and hide in caves, hollow logs, burrows and rock crevices. Sadly, these habitats are often destroyed.
Introduced species such as foxes and cats threaten the existence of Tiger quolls as they compete for their food and are potential predators.
Tiger Quolls are also highly susceptible to the baits used to control these introduced species.
Cats and foxes are highly prevalent on the Surf Coast. To learn more about these predators check out these links:
Who let the cats out? A blog about cat curfews on the Surf Coast.
Predatory pests targeted in Juc A blog about fox trapping in Jan Juc.
Sensors to stop stealthy predators A blog about infrared camera trapping to monitor predators.
How can I help?
- Find out if you live in an area which is likely to be Tiger Quoll habitat – If so, ensure the vegetation in and around your property is maintained regularly.
- Take care when driving through areas where Tiger Quoll is known to live. Road-related deaths are quite common for this species, as they often place themselves in danger when scavenging for road kill.
- Keep your pets indoors or fenced in at night so they don’t prey on native animals.
- Participate in revegetation and tree-planting initiatives in your local area.