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Eastern quoll found on mainland Australia!

Well the cat's out of the bag, so to speak. Here's the low-down on Victoria's Eastern quolls...

As you'll know from the information on this site, Eastern quolls haven't been confirmed on mainland Australia since 1963 when they died out in Vaucluse, Sydney. (My photograph of the last specimen, held now by the Australian Museum, can be viewed via a link on my Eastern Quoll project page)

However, prior to today I have received or found through research, a number of interesting mainland reports of Eastern quolls. Most of these have been based in Victoria and only a few weeks ago I was sent photographs, obtained using a mobile phone camera, of an animal in southern NSW which may be an Eastern quoll, or may be the extant spotted-tailed quoll.

But it is the small number of Victorian data that are the most interesting. Museum Victoria has recently announced that two specimens of Eastern quolls have been collected by Rayleen Reynolds near Little River.

The location, of course, is right near Mt Rothwell wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary has a number of free-ranging Eastern quolls contained within its feral-proof fence line, but the fence is designed to keep ferals like foxes and cats out, rather than to keep quolls in.

So why fuss over a quoll or two that turns up outside the fenceline? Because they lack the microchips that they should have, if they were sanctuary stock.

There are three possible scenarios that fit the evidence: either the recent quoll specimens bred within the park boundary, then escaped, then were recovered dead - presumably as road kill; or the recent specimens are descendants of other quolls which have escaped the park; or finally, they may be remnant mainland survivors - perhaps attracted to the sanctuary by its quoll population.

Of course it is the third scenario that would be most fascinating, though least likely. Even if these were descendant from other quolls which escaped the sanctuary, then as Museum Victoria points out, this indicates they are holding their own in a habitat known to harbour foxes and cats.

More to come on this story, I'm sure...

[Photo of mainland Eastern quoll specimen from the Museum Victoria source article, where it is credited as "Image: Marilyn Blankley
Source: Rayleen Reynolds"]

Mainland Eastern quoll specimen collected in 2008

Posted by: admin on 12th Oct 2008 06:48 AM
Updated by: admin on 12th Oct 2008 06:50 AM
Expires: 01st Jan 2013 12:00 AM

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Posted on: 2008-10-13 06:39:15   By: MikeC
 
Interesting breakthrough! I suppose everyone following the fate of the Eastern Quoll was hopeful something like this would happen. The question is - are they remnants or escapees? Is there a proposal to test whether their DNA matches mainland or Tasmanian material?

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