We are heading down under to chat about the World’s happiest animal. The Quokka is a unique marsupial found only in Western Australia. It is now well known for its incredible charisma. Multiple images of the Quokka have sprung up on social media over the last few years making them a fan favorite. This animal has much to teach us and was a joy to cover.
The Quokka is similar to a wallaby but is it own unique genus. They belong to the family of Macropodidae. This includes the kangaroos, tree kangaroos, wallaroos, and wallabies. The Quokka is the only species in the genus Setonix and has the species name Setonix brachyrus.
Marsupials evolved in North America. They eventually migrated around 55 million years ago south to South America, Antarctica, and then eventually Australia. Of the 334 known marsupial species, 200 inhabit Australia and its surrounding islands. North America has 1 species and then the rest reside in South America. The kangaroos and wallabies have inhabited Australia for nearly 20 million years.
Quokka live about 10 years. They are very similar to wallabies and kangaroos in that they hop around. However, Quokkas are different in that they can climb trees. Quokkas are herbivores. They survive on a diet of leaves, grass, stems, and bark of many plants. They also have adapted to require very little water. They get much of their moisture from their diet.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Quokka is the rumor that they drop or throw their babies at a pursuing predator. While it is NOT true that they toss their babies at the predator, there is some truth to this rumor. Apparently, it is possible for a Quokka baby to get ejected out of the mother’s pouch while being pursued. It is believed this is more of a automatic nervous system reaction and not a conscious choice by the mother.
Quokkas are listed as vulnerable. There is an estimated 7500 to 15,000 Quokkas left. Many are located on Rattnest Island near Perth Australia. On the mainland, many Quokka are losing their habitat due to logging and land development.
Conservation top of the week is to watch the documentary Life on our Planet w/Sir David Attenborough. The preview is HERE