Eastern Quoll, Dasyurus viverrinus

The eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus), or the eastern native cat, is a species of marsupial that is native to Australia. Its range once included mainland Australia, but it is still common on Tasmania. This species is one of six living quoll species and was named for its ferret-like appearance. George Shaw, who classified it with possums in the Didelphis genus, first discovered it in 1800.

Male eastern quolls reach an average body length of 23.6 inches and weight of 2.8 pounds. This species can range in color from black to fawn and holds bright spots along its body. Its underbelly is typically lighter in color. Although it is similar in appearance to the tiger quoll, it can be distinguished from this species by its longer snout, lack of spots on its tail, and its slender body.

The eastern quoll is solitary in nature and is carnivorous, consuming small mammals and insects during the nighttime hours. Its breeding season occurs in the winter, after which females will give birth to up to twenty young. However, only six individuals will survive because the female only has six teats within her pouch. Young will remain within the pouch as their mother hunts for food and will be weaned at ten weeks of age.

The primary threats to the eastern quoll include illegal trapping and poisoning and predation by feral cats. On Tasmania, it is thought that this species has been able to survive due to the lack of dingoes and foxes, but it became extinct on mainland Australia in 1931, when the last known individual was collected as road kill. However, there have been some unconfirmed sightings of this species, some of which are thought to be escapees from the Conservation and Research Centre. The eastern appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Near Threatened.”

Image Caption: Eastern Quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus). Credit: Michael Barritt & Karen May/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)