Kakadu National Park

Wednesday 17 July 2019

The northern quoll is the smallest of Australia’s four quoll species, weighing up to one kilogram.

This iconic marsupial is in danger of becoming extinct in the Northern Territory, but conservation programs are starting to have an effect.

Behaviour

Northern quolls live in woodlands, especially near rocky outcrops. Nocturnal animals, they shelter in hollow logs, tree hollows and rock crevices during the day.

They mainly eat insects, birds, small mammals and amphibians. Unfortunately, they are also happy to dine on poisonous cane toads.

Northern quolls have a naturally short lifespan. The males die off after the mating season in Yegge (May – June) and females usually reproduce only once.

Conservation

Northern quolls are having a tough time at the moment. Some are killed by feral cats and wild dogs, while their tendency to eat cane toads means that many die from poisoning. That puts northern quolls at real risk of becoming extinct in the Northern Territory.

So we’re partnering with scientists to try and save Kakadu’s quolls.

We have been feeding captured quolls cane toad sausages laced with a small amount of the poison, which quickly teaches them that cane toads are not a tasty treat. When the toad-smart quolls are released back into the national park, they teach their babies to avoid cane toads – a big step in protecting this endangered species.

Protecting our threatened quolls will be an ongoing project for many years to come.

Culture

According to a traditional story, Njanjma (quoll) argued with Dird (the Moon) about whether humans should come back to life. Angry people threw burning sticks at Njanjma for arguing, which gave the quoll its white spots. Now Dird comes back every month, while Njanjma dies like other creatures.

Other names

  • Scientific name: Dasyurus hallucatus