December sucks just as bad as November, looks like the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. One such bad apple was the Shocking Pink Dragon Millipede ands it’s terrible toxic secretions. This week’s animal is a born bruiser of the bush.
Issue #43 Tiger Quoll
Kingdom – Animalia
Phylum – Chordata
Class – Mammalia
Order – Dasyuromorphia
Family – Dasyuridae
Genus – Dasyurus
Related Species - The Tiger Quoll is the largest of the six species of Quoll (1)
Tiger Quolls are the largest carnivorous marsupials on the Australian mainland, reaching a length of around eighty centimetres and a weight of 3kg. Covered in rusty brown fur, the Tiger Quoll, like its smaller relatives, features a white dappled pattern that acts as camouflage while it stalks prey up in the trees. To aid them in their semi arboreal lifestyle, the Tiger Quoll has five well developed toes on each foot with rigged foot pads which make clambering around tree branches easier. Tiger Quolls may have a home range of over 800 hectares which they will readily mark with olfactory and auditory signals, although these territories may overlap with those of other individuals.
Tiger Quolls are primarily carnivorous and will happily tackle prey ranging in size from insects to animals as big as wombats and small wallabies as well as dangerous prey such as venomous snakes. Quolls will also happily scavenge on dead animals but the majority of their food comes from live prey. Predators mostly consist of pythons, eagles and the Dingo (Canus lupus dingo) on the mainland, while in their Tasmanian range the Quoll comes into conflict with the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophikus harrisi) with the former species yielding to adults of the later species (3).
Quolls of all kinds are largely solitary, only coming together to breed and to use communal latrines, usually found on the edge of several overlapping territories (4). When they do meet outside these situations Quolls will aggressively posture, displaying the size of their teeth in an attempt to intimidate their rival. Quolls are born fighters, with joeys fighting for a limited number of teats in the females pouch.
Five To Save #4 - Marsupials
Marsupials, due to their unusual way of rearing their young have long been considered inferior to Placental Mammals and observations about species interactions between the native fauna and invasive species brought over by Europeans seems to support this. However it should be noted that introducing any invasive species cause competition and at its most extreme local extinction. Native animals are often keyed into the natural rhythm of an ecosystem while invading species aren’t. Luckily marsupials have the support of one of the most conservation aware movements in the world (global warming attitudes aside) and the halt of invasive species is one of its major environmental policies.
Greater Bilby (Macrotis lagotis) - Vulnerable
Threats: Invasive Species - The Greater Bilby faces a trio of invasive species that threaten it’s survival in the wild. Predation by Red Foxes (Vulpus vulpus) and domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) and competition from rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) all threaten this species. That said the ‘Easter Bilby’ campaign has greatly improved awareness of this species blight and that of other native wildlife.
Mountain Pygmy Possum (Burramys parvus) - Critically Endangered
Threats: Recreation Activities - Snow and Australia may not be words most think of in the same sentence but the main threat to the Mountain Pygmy Possum is the expansion of the skiing industry in the Australian Alps. The destruction of native plants, through pollution and land clearance, has a knock on effect to the ecosystem, with the possum and its main food source the Bogong Moth (Argotis infusa) supporting rapidly declining populations in these snow covered peaks.
Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat(Lasiorhinus krefftii) - Critically Endangered
Threats: Climate Change - While probably never very common the Hairy Nosed Wombat is fallen victim to the changes made to the environment by the conversion of scrubland to grazing land. In addition to competing with domestic livestock for food the large scale of farming cause changes to the vegetation structure and increases the likelihood and duration of drought conditions that quickly kill off the wombat’s preferred food source.
Numbat (Myremecobis fasciatus) - Endangered
Threats: Land Clearance - The insectivorous Numbat is a species that suffers from the removal of dead wood and dry brush in an attempt to reduce bush fires. In fact it’s theorised that the Numbat actually benefits from controlled fire regimes as it stimulates a boom in termite and ant populations it depends on.
Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophikus harrisi) - Endangered
Threats: Disease - While they possess a formidable reputation Tasmanian Devils suffer from a genetic disorder known as Devil Face Tumour Disorder (DFTF), a painful and often fatal disease that infects the species. Coupled with a long history of persecution and competition with the invasive Red Fox for resources the future looks grim for this carnivorous marsupial.
1 - www.arkive.org
2 - Jones M. E., Rose R. K., Burnett S., (2001) "Dasyurus maculates", Mammalian Species 676:1-9
3 - Jones M. E., (1995) Guild structure of the large carnivores in Tasmania. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
4 - Burnett S. (2000) The ecology and endangerment of spotted-tailed quoll, Dasyurus maculates. Ph.D. dissertation, James Cook University of North Queensland, Townville, Australia
2 - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/19/Tiger_Quoll_area.png
3 - http://www.survival.org.au/images/mammals/tiger_quoll_wallpaper_3.jpg
4 - http://nedenneden.files.wordpress.com/2007/06/quoll-yawn.jpg
And with that the cuddly yet buff Quoll waddles off out of the spotligh. Next week we bring you the must have for any gentleman this festive season, a weaponized moustache, but until then critic, comment and check out Impurest’s Bestiary of Past Issues