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Quokka

The quokka (Setonix brachyurus) is a small marsupial similar in appearance to a wallaby or kangaroo, with distinctive short brown coarse hair and lighter underparts. This species’ body is stocky and hunched in posture and, as its other common name suggests, it has a noticeably short tail. It has a small head with a dark stripe on the forehead, short and rounded ears, and a naked nose. The quokka has strongly developed hind legs enabling it to hop, as well as climb trees up to 1.5 metres, an unusual behaviour for marsupials. It is also unusual in its ability to survive in an environment almost totally devoid of freshwater due to some fascinating feeding and digestive adaptations. The quokka was given its peculiar name by the Aboriginal people living in Western Australia where this species can still be found today. The largest populations however are on Rottnest island, which gained its name when the Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh described the island as overrun with ‘rats the size of cats’ (Rottnest is derived from the Dutch for ‘rats nest’) referring to the quokkas which thrived there.


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