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Quokka
 

Quokkas are well know on Rottnest Island of Perth's coastline. Scientific name is - Sentonix brachyurus

The solidly built wallabies and weigh 2-4kg and have long, thick fur, reddish brown to grey with lighter tips. They have small ears and short tails and sit no higher than 30cm on their haunches. Early records note that the Quokka prefered dense vegetation around swamps and water courses. The arrival of foxes in Western Australia in the 1920's made these retreats even more important, removal of this dense cover eas a virtual death sentance for the Quokka. A few scattered populations exist in the forest around Perth and in the heathland along the southern coast. Fortunately Quokka are abundant on several islands off WA that are fox free including Rottnest Island.

  Quokka
 
Quokka browse on low scrubs and succulent plants. Access to water is important for them and appears to limit their numbers on Rottnest Island, there they only seem to breed in winter, mainland populations seem to breed all year around.
 
 
In 1696 when the Dutch navigator Willem de Vlamingh saw the Quokka in Western Australia, he thought it was a kind of rat and named Rottnest ("rat nest") Island after the animal. Quokkas are still numerous on the island but are rare on the mainland in decent numbers due to predatation by foxes & cats and removal of suitable habitat.
 
The quokka was once abundant in all swampy areas that skirted the coast of South West of Western Australia and was destroyed in great numbers for food. When humans wanting to procure quokka as they evidently fired the bush for one side and then waited with spears in the clearing on the other side.

Today, the quokka is generally rare on mainland that survives it reasonable numbers on Bald and Rottnest islands.  Rottnest Island   was so named in 1696 by the Dutch navigator Willem de Vlamingh because he mistook the abundant quokka as the large rats.

On Rottnest Island these small kangaroos have a short breeding season which starts in January (with births in February) if the season is mild, but in March if it is hot.  The gestation period is about 27 days.  Like most kangaroos, the female mates again the day after giving birth. At the second embryo then developed until it is about the size of the pinhead and is made up of one only about 100 cells. At this point is development stops unless the first young is prematurely lost from the couch.  If this happens, development of the second young resumes and the second young is born.  Pouch life last about six months and sexual maturity is achieved by the end of the second year.


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