Western Quoll / Chuditch
Range and abundance
Western Quolls were once present in a wide variety of habitats across nearly 70% of the Australian mainland. They were probably always uncommon outside of Western Australia but, following European settlement, their range contracted dramatically. They are now found only in the south-western corner of Western Australia and even within this region their distribution is patchy. Western Quolls are most abundant in areas of contiguous Jarrah forest and are only occasionally recorded in the WA Wheatbelt and Goldfields regions. The species disappeared from the Swan Coastal Plain and surrounds by the 1930s but there has been some recent evidence of a return to these areas.
Western Quolls are the size of a domestic cat and are Western Australia’s largest endemic carnivore. Males are 1.3 kg, females 0.9 kg. Individuals have brown fur with numerous conspicuous white spots on their back and sides. They also have a black brush on the tail, extending from half-way down their tail to the tip.
Western Quolls are solitary animals with very large home ranges; a reflection of their carnivorous feeding habits. Their diet is made up of large invertebrates and a variety of reptiles, birds and mammals (up the size of bandicoots and parrots). Animals are primarily nocturnal, hunting at night and sheltering in hollow logs or burrows during the day. Young are born between May and September and are independent at about six months of age. Individuals become sexually mature at one year of age and usually do not live beyond four years.
Predation by feral cats and foxes is a serious threat to the persistence of Western Quolls. Cats and European foxes are also likely to compete directly with Western Quolls for food resources as there is considerable overlap in the dietary preferences of these species. Habitat modification is likely to have contributed to the decline of Western Quolls through the combined influences of land clearing, inappropriate fire regimes and grazing by both stock and feral herbivores. Shooting and poisoning is also likely to be partly responsible for the disappearance of Western Quolls from heavily populated and agricultural areas, and continues to be a threat in some locations.
What is AWC doing?
AWC protects this species at Paruna Sanctuary using a comprehensive feral predator control program, which sees feral cat and fox numbers controlled using trapping and baiting.