Category Archives: Marsupials


How can you resist an animal called a quoll? The quoll – a carnivorous marsupial – is about the size of a cat, but even cuter (if possible). Here’s one:

As you’ll have noticed, this quoll is spotted – hence its name, Dasyurus maculatus. For reasons best know to Aussies, it used to be called the Tiger Cat. The spotted tail quoll (above), Dasyurus maculatus maculatus, is found in eastern Australia, down to Tasmania, mainly in rainforest and wet forest. Another subspecies lives in northern coastal regions.

Quolls are currently endangered because of habitat fragmentation (which includes its den sites), competition from feral mammals and its unfortunate habit of eating cane toads, a giant introduced species that is poisonous. They prey on birds as well as toads, and will fight with the extremely scary Tasmanian Devil over food. They are nocturnal (hence the spots, I would guess) and will utter a very scary piercing scream if disturbed. (Photos from ARKive):


They have two colour phases – ginger/brown (above) and black:


This video shows one eating:

There is another quoll, the Eastern Quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus), which now appears to be limited to Tasmania. And there is a Northern Quoll, Dasyurus hallucatus. And there are two species of quolls found in New Guinea. [EDIT: See Comment by Chris for more details!]

Quolls do not have pouches like a kangaroo, but an area of skin around the teats grows to create a flap of skin that contains the young. To tell the reproductive status of a female quoll, you  look into the “pouch”. In the follicular phase, the area turns red, while post-ovulation it becomes wet and deep. This is also true of the Tasmanian Devil, though probably a bad idea, as the Devil has Very Big Teeth. This abstract describes the procedure in more detail… I wouldn’t try it at home, though.

If you’re in Australia and spot a quoll (or want to!), go here.



Filed under Marsupials, Uncategorized


October 2007

The Tasmanian Devil suffers from a horrible viral cancer which is killing off the population. Conservationists are trying to take measures to save them.

Faculty of Life Sciences trivia quiz: which member of staff has a scar from a Tasmanian Devil bite?

Highlight this line to get the answer: Andrew Loudon

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Filed under Diseases, Manchester, Marsupials, Quiz


October 2007

Matt Kaiser (Postgrad) pointed this out: The albino koala that appeared in an earlier Z-Letter item is a fraud. Or at least, it’s not an albino, according to a video from The Guardian [that has since been removed for copyright reasons – hence the lack of link]. Not convinced, myself… But if it IS an albino, how come it has a black nose?

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Filed under Marsupials


September 2007

BBC video here. Aaah. But more seriously, albinoism occurs regularly in (to my knowledge) all mammals. Is it the same gene that is mutated each time? Why do albinos have visual problems?

(NB see other posts on albinism – they update this story)

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Filed under Baby animals, Marsupials, Videos


February 2007

Last year ago, the Z-letter carried an item about the nasty virus which is threatening the Tasmanian Devil. A conference has taken place in Tasmania to pool ideas about how to fight the disease.

BBC report here, Nature article on the virus from 2006 here, Nature news piece from 2006 here (Uni/Athens needed for both these), a good book about the Devil here (only £8.60, but available in the Rylands Library).

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Filed under Books, Diseases, Marsupials


November 2006

A new study suggests that the decline in Australian marsupials may have been partly caused by the decline in the numbers of the top predator – the dingo.

BBC summary article here; original article here (open access).

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Filed under Ecology (scientific), Extinction, Mammals, Marsupials