Dasyurus geoffroii are mainly found in the southwest portion of Western Australia in the Jarrah forest, though their range once covered Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia (Johnson et al 1982, Menkhorst et al 1995).
Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )
Dasyurus geoffroii usually sport a brown or black (rarer) coat with white spots along their lean, short-legged bodies. The face is paler than the rest of the fur while the ears are white-rimmed. Western quolls are roughly the size of a cat and have pointed facial features along with large eyes and rounded ears. They measure roughly 36 cm to 46 cm in body length, tail length ranges from 22 to 30 cm. Females are the smaller of the species.
Range mass: 900 to 1300 g.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Average basal metabolic rate: 2.991 W.
- Collins, L. 1973. Monotremes and Marsupials: A Reference for Zoological Insitutions. City of Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.
- Hyett, J., N. Shaw. 1980. Australian Marsupials: A Field Guide for New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia & Tasmania. Melbourne, Australia: Nelson.
- Massicot, P. 2000. "Animal Info - Western Native Cat" (On-line). Accessed February 19, 2001 at http://www.animalinfo.org/species/dasygeof.htm.
- Mawson, C. 2000. "Chuditch" (On-line). Accessed February 19, 2001 at http://edsitewa.iinet.net.au/perthzoo/chuditch.html.
- Ride, W. 1970. A Guide to the Native Mammals of Australia. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
Habitat and Ecology
The original habitat of western quolls was once quite large, including stretches of desert in the arid part of Central Australia. However due to various causes, D. geoffroii's territory has been reduced to the Jarrah forests in the southwest portion of South Australia. These areas consist of open forest, low open forest, woodland, and open shrub.
(Hyett et al 1980, Mawson 1996, Menkhorst et al 1995)
Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; forest
Their diet is rather diverse, ranging from large insects, to small vertebrates, to carrion. In arid habitats they have been found to eat mammals the size of rabbits, lizards, frogs, and invertebrates. In forested habitats they consume insects, freshwater crustaceans, reptiles, parrot-sized birds, and rabbit-sized mammals. In human-settled areas they will raid chicken coops and rubbish bins. Dasyurus geoffroii kills larger prey by biting the back of the head or neck. This carnivore is primarily a ground forager and nocturnal though it does occasionally climb trees.
(Hume 1999, Menkhorst et al 1995, Hyett et al 1980)
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: captivity: 3.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Western quolls are seasonal breeders, mating between the months of May and July with a peak in June. Nnormal litter size ranges from 2 to 6 young per year, there have been cases where females produce more young than can be nurses. After a gestational period of 16 to 23 days, western quolls remain in their mother's shallow pouch for another seven to fifteen weeks until they outgrow the pouch. At this point they are left in the den while the female forages for food. Dasyurus geoffroii are independent at 18 weeks and weaned at 23 to 24 weeks, both the male and female are sexually mature at one year of age.
(Collins 1973, Hyett et al 1980, Massicot 2000, Mawson 1996, Menkhorst et al 1995, Ride 1970)
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Average birth mass: 0.011 g.
Average gestation period: 16 days.
Average number of offspring: 6.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 365 days.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Vulnerable (VU)
- 1994Endangered (E)
- 1965Status inadequately known-survey required or data sought
Much of western quoll's habitat has been destroyed through controlled and frequent burns as well as the use of pesticides by surrounding farmers. The introduction of predator species such as foxes, feral cats, and bird of preys by European settlers has also reduced their numbers. The new predators compete with western quoll for food and also prey upon them. There have been successful attempts to breed D. geoffroii in captivity and release them (Perth Zoo). Research on western quoll and their habitat have been conducted in hopes of finding a way to preserve the species in the wild. Various areas have passed acts in an attempt to conserve these marsupials but there are no statistics on their success. (Mawson 1996, Massicot 2000, Murdoch University 1997)
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
Western Quoll are known from 25 of the 57 fauna monitoring sites in the south-west of Western Australia, in 15 of these, the species has increased in abundance (as measured by trap success rates) or remained unchanged since fox control was implemented in 1996 (K. Morris pers. comm.). In the other 10 sites this species has declined; the reason for this is unclear at present, however, in at least one of these sites (Honeymoon Pool, Collie River) management practices have changed so that rubbish bins are no longer left at the picnic and camping sites (Western Quolls are well known scavengers) (K. Morris pers. comm.). A study into the impact of introduced predators on native fauna, including native predators such as the Western Quoll, is currently underway and reintroduction of captive breed D. g. fortis to former areas of its range in the arid zone of Western Australia is planned for the period 2009-2012 (K. Morris pers. comm.).
Whilst no substantiated evidence has been found to support the continued presence of the eastern subspecies D. g. geoffroii in Queensland, New South Wales or Victoria, there are three unconfirmed reports cited in the Threatened Species of Western New South Wales folder (1996) of this species from far western New South Wales. Specifically, these sighting are from 1996 at North of Broken Hill, in 1990 from "Myall" NW of Tilpa, and "Albermarle" between Broken Hill and Menindee in 1988. The latter record was chased out of a tree but escaped into a rabbit warren. Known and unconfirmed occurrences of D. maculatus from the central and far west of New South Wales make it hard to verify reports of D. geoffroii made by the public (as distinguishing the two species can be difficult). A live D. geoffroii was confiscated by New South Wales Department of Conservation and Climate change staff in 1983 from a chicken pen on a property in Central West New South Wales - it was presumed to have been a captive individual/pet that had originated from a from Western Australia stock, however, its origins were never verified and there was no further consideration or exploration of the possibility of a wild population persisting in the area, despite being within its former range (S. Hamilton pers. comm.). It is generally accepted that mammal survey techniques in most areas of the former eastern range of D. g. geoffroii have not been targeted towards D. g. geoffroii, being neither adequate in magnitude or duration to detect the presence of this species if it does indeed persist at all.
Management actions completed or underway (Maxwell et al. 1996): habitat management research into the impact of prescribed burning and timber harvesting in the Jarrah forest is under way. Western Quoll habitat requirements are considered during rehabilitation after bauxite mining; impact of fox control programs completed research has shown that Western Quolls have benefited from fox control programs using 1080 meat baits. A broad-scale fox baiting program is now under way in the Jarrah forest; Western Quoll populations are being monitored at several sites within the Jarrah forest as part of the Department of Environment and Conservation (Western Australia) faunal management programs and as part of ongoing research into fox control, prescribed burning, and timber harvesting. A monitoring site in the Wheatbelt has not yet been established; distribution and requirements in the semi-arid zone increase over the next few years. An extensive survey for Western Quolls in the southern Wheatbelt failed to detect any. Populations may have continued to decline over the last 10 years and restocking of suitable areas is probably required; captive breeding program ongoing and successfully undertaken at Perth Zoo since 1989. Over 60 Western Quolls have been bred, with most being used for translocation to Julimar Conservation Park; a successful translocation has been undertaken at Julimar Conservation Park. Translocations to Wheatbelt reserves and Shark Bay have been proposed.
A study into the impact of introduced predators on native fauna, including native predators such as the Western Quoll is currently underway (K. Morris pers. comm.).
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
In rare instances western quoll may take domestic fowl.
Western quolls are important to the aboriginal people of Australia as a symbol in their mythology, as food, and for ceremonial purposes. Dasyurus geoffroii also serve as natural predators of insects, pests, and rabbits that plague some farmers.
(Johnson et al 1982, Ride 1970)
The western quoll (Dasyurus geoffroii) is also known as the chuditch (especially Western Australia, from Noongar djooditj), atyelpe or chilpa (from Arrernte), kuninka (from Western Desert language), idnya (by the Adnyamathanha people of the Flinders Ranges) and western native cat. It is a medium-sized predator and has a white-spotted brown coat and a long tail like its eastern and northern relatives. It differs from the closely related eastern quoll in possessing a first toe on the hind foot and a darker tail. It is classed as a near-threatened Australian dasyuromorph, whose distribution is now confined to south-western Western Australia.
The western quoll is a solitary, nocturnal predator which is mostly terrestrial, although it does climb trees. It has a diet of small vertebrates, carrion, arthropods, and freshwater crayfish, among other things. The breeding season is from April to July.
The head and body average about 330 mm in length, with the tail averaging another 280 mm. An individual can weigh up to 2 kg, with males being slightly heavier.
The western quoll moves swiftly on the ground, climbs efficiently, and may dig or occupy existing holes in the ground. Activity is greatest around dusk and dawn with the animal being crepuscular.
The western quoll was formerly found throughout most of inland Australia, reaching areas of Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. It is now restricted to the south-western corner of Western Australia, where it inhabits wet and dry sclerophyll forests and mallee.
In April 2014 a 5 year trial re-introduction of western quoll to the Flinders Ranges in South Australia began. Despite the loss of about a third of the first release, mostly by feral cats; most of the surviving females bred and produced around 60 young. As of February 2015[update] a second batch of releases is planned.
The western quoll was described by John Gould in 1841, when it was still widespread throughout the continent. Its species name, geoffroii, refers to the prominent French naturalist Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, who named the genus Dasyurus in 1796. The species has sometimes been placed in the genus Dasyurinus.
The western quoll is a member of the family Dasyuridae and is most closely related to the bronze quoll (Dasyurus spartacus), a recently described species from New Guinea that was for some time believed to be an outlying population of the western quoll.
- Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 25. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
- Morris, K., Burbidge, A. & Hamilton, S. (2008). Dasyurus geoffroii. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 28 December 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as near threatened
- Rooney, Bernard (2011). Nyoongar Dictionary. Batchelor Press. p. 20. ISBN 9781741312331.
- Henderson, John; Henderson, Veronica (1994). Eastern and Central Arrernte to English Dictionary. IAD Press. p. 326. ISBN 0949659746.
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- Menkhorst, Peter (2001). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia. Oxford University Press. p. 48.
- "Chudditch (Western Quoll) (Dasyurus geoffroyi)". australianfauna.com. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
- Staight, Kerry (7 February 2015). "More rare western quolls to be released in SA after successful start to reintroduction project". ABC News online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
- "About the Chuditch". switchthefuture.com.au. Retrieved 2012-07-29.