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Surprise quoll find near Coonabarabran

Western Plains App

Liz Cutts

10 April 2024, 7:40 AM

Surprise quoll find near CoonabarabranThe unwelcome spotted-tail quoll visitor caught in a trap and relocated. (image; M.Walton)

The discovery of Australia's largest mainland carnivorous marsupial on a local property is seen as a good sign for the future of the threatened species.


When local resident, Meg Walton was woken in the early hours with a commotion in her duck pen, she thought at first that a large possum was responsible for the racket.


“I had never seen anything like it before,” Meg said. “It took one of the ducklings and climbed up a tree in the back garden.  I had to look up a spotted brown animal on the internet to find out that it was a spotted-tail quoll!”


However, Meg says the next night the quoll returned killing a total of two ducklings and three turkeys.



“On advice from National Parks and Wildlife we bought two fresh chickens and put them in borrowed box traps in the turkey pen and the next day found the quoll caught in one of them,” Meg added.

“It got into the pens by digging under the fencing, so we have now put all the ducks, turkeys and chickens in the same pen together and put mesh under the cage so nothing can dig through again.

“It was a bit scary at first because I did not know what it was.”


A spokesperson for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPSW) says there have only been a handful of recorded sightings of spotted-tailed quolls in the Coonabarabran area in the last two decades.


“The Spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) captured on private property near Coonabarabran was a male. The animal appeared very healthy, with a lovely shiny coat and weighed in at just over 4kg.

“Spotted-tailed quolls are highly mobile. They can move several kilometres overnight and have very large territories, especially in lower rainfall areas where food can be scarcer. They are mainly solitary animals and will make their dens in rock shelters or hollow logs or tree hollows.

“It is breeding season for quolls now, which is why this male may have been seen outside where it would normally live.”


NPWS say that all confirmed quoll sightings are recorded in the Bionet system, which helps to increase our knowledge of these elusive creatures.


Habitat

“While the quolls natural habitat is the forest, they will sometimes travel across open country, including farms where they find abundant, accessible food such as rabbits and poultry. If you’ve got chooks, you are likely to have quolls checking out your animals.

“To protect poultry, ensure your pen is designed to keep predators out, not just to keep your chickens or ducks in.

“Quolls are awesome climbers and are smaller than you think, with juveniles capable of fitting through regular 40 mm hexagonal chicken wire. They are also accomplished diggers, so if your pen has an earthen floor, you will need to extend your fence below ground.”


Historically, quolls were treated as pests and were trapped, shot or poisoned by people protecting their chooks. Occasionally, quolls died from injuries sustained from trying to enter or exit chook pens. These practices have contributed to a decline in quoll numbers, and quolls are now listed as an endangered species in New South Wales.


If you suspect or see a quoll visiting your hen house, NPWS ask that you contact your Local Land Services or National Parks and Wildlife office. They may also be able to help you with a motion camera to identify the species or advise you on how to quoll-proof your hen house.


After being checked out and its good health confirmed, Meg’s spotted-tail quoll was released back into the wild as soon as possible to give it the best chance at reproduction.