Handsome — Quokka has become incredibly popular thanks to its charming good-natured smile and always positive attitude. The Internet is filled with photos of this hilarious and cute animal, which is very sociable and often poses for them along with bipeds. Let's try to learn more about the life of this amazing marsupial by studying its external habits, food preferences and places of permanent deployment.
Origin of the species and description
The quokka is called the short-tailed kangaroo, an animal and belongs to the kangaroo family, the order of the two-bladed marsupials and the genus Setonix ( short-tailed kangaroo), the only representative of which is. When looking at a quokka, it is difficult for a strass to guess that it is a kangaroo, albeit a dwarf one. Outwardly, the animal is more similar to rodents and wallabies, which also belong to kangaroos.
The origin of this marsupial on the Australian continent is rather vague, almost nothing is known about it. Once upon a time, Dutch settlers who chose an island near Australia called it “Rottnest”, which translates as “rat's nest”. The point here was not at all in the rats, which were not observed on the island. People noticed a lot of quokkas that lived everywhere, and decided that they were rodents, because they could not even imagine that they were pygmy kangaroos. Therefore, the quokka is often called a kangaroo rat or a smiling kangaroo.
The question involuntarily arises: “Why is the quokka so cheerful and smiling?”. In fact, there is no secret here, just a quokka constantly chews rough plant foods, and when her jaw muscles are relaxed, her facial expression becomes positive and smiling, and her face is very cute and happy.
The dimensions of the quokka are similar to the size of an ordinary large cat or small dog. Females are slightly smaller than males, their weight ranges from 1.5 to 3.5 kg, and the weight of males is from 2.7 to 5 kg. The length of the body of the animal rarely exceeds half a meter.
Interesting fact: Quokkas are considered the smallest representatives of the wallaby, and their name refers to the local Australian slang.
Appearance and Features
Quokka is a small animal with a fairly dense and rounded physique, its hind limbs and tail are not as long as those of other kangaroos. The length of the tail is approximately 30 cm, it is covered with coarse bristles, the tail is used by animals as a balancer during jumps, but it does not have such strength as ordinary kangaroos, therefore it is not a support. On a pretty muzzle, chubby cheeks and neat rounded ears, as well as a black nose, are immediately noticeable. The quokka does not have fangs, but only 32 small teeth.
The coat of the quokka is quite thick, but the fur is not long. It has a grayish-brown color with some redness, the abdomen is lighter than the main tone. The red color shows through most of all in the neck and on the muzzle, and the paws of the animal have a dark, almost black tint. In some animals, a gray tone predominates in color. With their front short paws, quokkas pluck foliage and hold fruits and plants during the meal, which looks very funny and interesting.
In general, the appearance of a quokka is very good-natured, peaceful and attractive. The animals simply captivate with their cheerful muzzle. Tourists dream of being photographed with this handsome man, and the quokka is not at all averse, because she herself is very curious and loves attention to her kangaroo person.
Where does the quokka live?
If we turn to history, it can be noted that earlier the quokka was widespread throughout the Australian continent, living in all three coastal regions of southwestern Australia. Now things are much worse, the territory of the animal is now limited to just a few remote areas of the Albany region, which is located in the west of the Australian mainland. It so happened due to the fact that the quokka cannot fight back such predators as the wild dog dingo, fox and cat, so marsupials now live where these ill-wishers do not exist.
Most of all, the quokka lives on small islands located near Australia, the places for animals there are the most favorable, because you will not meet the insidious enemies listed above there.
Quokka can be seen on the following islands:
- Bold Island;
Animals choose not too wet grassy areas, where there is a lot of dense shrubbery. In dry times, quokka can be found in wetlands. Quokka is often deployed in those areas where such an Australian endemic plant as agonis grows. In general, these amazing marsupials constantly need to replenish the body's water balance, so they always live near freshwater sources.
It has been observed that quokkas often settle in areas where fires occurred several years ago. Scientists believe that the newly grown vegetation on the burnt places is more nutritious for animals and more saturated with useful substances. A small quokka can overcome natural disasters, survive in semi-arid areas, but it is completely defenseless against insidious predators.
Now you know where the quokka lives. Let's see what this cute animal eats.
What does the quokka eat?
The menu of these little kangaroos is exclusively vegetable. Quokka can be safely called one hundred percent true vegetarian. Nature has not endowed them with fangs, and small strong teeth of animals are able to cope with a variety of vegetation.
The diet of these unusual marsupials consists of:
- various herbs;
- young shoots;
It is not for nothing that quokkas inhabit grassy places densely overgrown with shrubs, often from grasses they build something like tunnels for shelters and safer feeding. Since animals are active at night, they also go in search of food at dusk. Basically, tasty animals are looking for on the ground, in thickets of grass, but, noticing a young and juicy shoot, they can climb a tree to a height of about one and a half meters.
Small, kangaroo, front paws are akin to human hands, with which marsupials tear off leaves they like, amusingly hold fruits and shoots, bringing them to their mouths during snacks. In popular photos of the quokka on the net, you can often see something tasty in its tenacious front paws.
It is noticed that animals practically do not chew food, but bite off and immediately swallow it. Often they regurgitate undigested leftovers and may eat this gum again. Quokka is quite hardy and although it constantly needs water, it can do without it for quite a long time, getting moisture from succulent vegetation.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
Quokka is active at night, when the danger posed by various predators is minimal. This is a harmless animal that is unable to resist the insidious and larger opponents. Quokkas have been seen building green tunnels made of grasses and shrubs, they serve as an animal barrier that protects from ill-wishers, moving through such a tunnel is much safer, the chances of hiding from the pursuer increase.
Quokkas move, like all kangaroos, with the help of rapid jumps. Despite the fact that the animals are very friendly, before the onset of the wedding season, they prefer a solitary existence. Quokka loves holes and all sorts of hiding places, in hot weather she can dig a hole in the thickets of grass and lie in it, relaxing in the shade and waiting for it to get dark to start her late meal. In search of a snack, the quokka usually moves along already familiar, beaten paths. In moments of fright or anticipation of some threat, the marsupial loudly knocks on the ground with its impressive hind limbs.
If we talk about the nature of these unusual short-tailed kangaroos, then they can be called peaceful, completely harmless and sweetest creatures. One has only to look at their happy faces, and the mood immediately rises. It should be noted that animals do not shun people at all, they do not feel danger from them and often approach a person out of curiosity.
An interesting fact: Quokka is very sociable and loves to be the center of attention herself, so tourists trying to capture her in a photo do not annoy the animal at all, but, on the contrary, bring pleasure. The animal is photographed with great interest along with people and it turns out just fine in the pictures.
Social structure and reproduction
Sexually mature quokkas become closer to the age of one year or a little earlier. Their wedding season falls on a time when it is cool outside, namely, it begins in January and lasts until March. Most often, marsupial females themselves begin to choose a partner. The rejected gentleman retires and begins to court another lady. If the potential groom was to your liking, then the female shows this in every possible way, hinting that she is ready for mating. Large males are always dominant, and they are chosen much more often. Often they fight for females with gentlemen of a lower rank.
After intercourse has occurred, the male becomes the protector of his chosen one. A couple can last for two mating seasons. Quokkas are polygamous, so each of the partners has other hobbies on the side. Females can have about three more boyfriends, and males can have up to five partners.
Interesting fact: As far as social structure is concerned, it differs between males and females. Females practically do not contact each other, and males can communicate with other females, observing a kind of hierarchy based primarily on the size of the animal.
The duration of pregnancy is approximately a month, after which only one tiny cub is born, it is blind, deaf and devoid of fur. The baby is in the mother's pouch for another six months, where it continues to develop and feed on mother's milk. When he is six months old, he gets out and tries to merge into the world around him, but he does not go far from his mother, constantly feeding on milk. This continues for several more months, until the baby gains complete independence.
It is worth noting that nature took care of quokkas, providing for such a phenomenon characteristic of them as embryonic diapause. In other words, the female has another spare embryo, which is stored in her body in case the born baby dies. If a quokka mother suffers such a misfortune, then she gives birth to a second baby, while she does not need the fertilization of a male. This is how interesting the kangaroo life is, which in natural conditions lasts for ten years, and in captivity, the quokka can live up to 14.
Natural enemies of the quokka
Quokka is very vulnerable and defenseless. She cannot withstand larger predators, to say nothing of the young, which is not experienced at all. Animals such as cats, foxes and wild dingo dogs are very dangerous for dwarf kangaroos, and they are their main enemies in the wild.
The quokka ill-wishers can also include a person from whom the population of these animals suffered greatly, because it was the European settlers who brought dogs, cats and foxes to those places on the Australian mainland where the quokka was widely settled, who began to hunt marsupial animals. Human settlements began to attract wild dingoes and large feathered predators, which became much more, which is why the number of quokkas has become very thin. , and when the baby gets out of the bag, the father does not show any care for him.
As already noted, feeling threatened, quokkas strongly drum on the ground with their hind limbs, trying to frighten the enemy, but this is unlikely to frighten off an experienced predator, so the kangaroo can only escape by flight, because even the baby does not have sharp fangs. Although the quokka does not have special defense mechanisms, and it has plenty of enemies, nevertheless, it remains kind and trusting towards people, charging them with its indefatigable positive, coming from such a sincere and provocative smile, which cannot be treated with indifference.
Population and species status
Previously, the quokk population was numerous, a large number of animals inhabited the Australian mainland itself, now things are completely different. There are very few quokkas left in Australia, they live in certain isolated areas where cats and foxes are almost never found. It was these predatory animals, and most of all the red fox, which people brought to the mainland, contributed to the fact that the number of defenseless quokkas was incredibly reduced.
Quokkas feel more at ease and safer on the islands located near the Australian mainland, where cats and foxes do not live. The most famous quokka island is Rottnest (rat's nest). Previously, there were vast populations of quokkas on the islands next to it, but now there is not a single individual left, which is very sad and disturbing.
Conservation organizations are concerned about the fate of short-tailed kangaroos, which need special conservation measures. On islands where there are no red foxes, quokkas feel great and breed successfully, so in recent years their numbers have increased markedly there, and there has been such a problem as a lack of pastures for their food. To resolve this situation, people are catching quokkas and giving them to various zoos around the world. Despite all this, the quokka is a vulnerable species of animals, the distribution area of u200bu200bwhich is very limited.
As noted earlier, the quokka is a vulnerable species, therefore it is listed on the IUCN red list. This is due to a number of factors to which a person is directly related. One of them is the importation of cats and red foxes to Australia, which very much exterminated the kangaroo population, leading a relentless hunt for marsupials. Another factor is human intervention in the natural environment: deforestation, draining of wetlands, plowing of land, the construction of human settlements, and the deterioration of the ecological situation in general have led to the fact that there are practically no places left for a peaceful and safe habitat for quokkas, as a result of which they the number has declined.
Harmless quokkas can also suffer from gullibility and good nature towards people, so the Australian authorities and public environmental organizations forbid getting close to animals, threatening with considerable fines. Despite this ban, more and more tourists want to communicate with these amazing fluffy creatures, and the latter do not mind at all and willingly make contact. The places where the largest number of quokkas live are recognized as protected areas and are carefully protected. It remains to be hoped that people will be friendly towards these cute Australian inhabitants, just like quokkas towards humans.
In conclusion, it remains to add that, perhaps, there is no friendlier and more provocative animal than quokka, which has a huge talent for lifting the mood. Contemplating photos on the Internet, one cannot help but be touched by this fluffy creature with a charming, radiant face that gives a smile and only positive emotions.