The Tiger Quoll, Dasyurus maculatus, is one of four quoll species found in Australia, which all belong to the genus Dasyurus, meaning ‘Hairy-tail’.
Tiger Quolls are the only Quoll species to have spots on the tail (the Tiger Quoll also goes by the common name Spotted-tailed Quoll).
Male Tiger Quolls are larger (2.5-3.5kg on average, although there have been records of males over 8kg) than their female counterparts (1.5-2kg on average) which makes Tiger Quolls the largest of the Quoll species . Female Tiger Quolls will bear one litter per year of around 5 young and it has been found that multiple paternity is common. This means that individual young of the same litter may have different fathers ! The Tiger Quoll is primarily solitary and nocturnal, although they have been known to be active throughout the day on occasion .
Tiger Quolls are dependent on habitats ranging from rainforest to wet and dry eucalypt forest and woodlands . Individuals can have substantial home-ranges of up to 800ha for males and 400ha for females, although these may still be underestimates. With their larger home ranges, males tend to overlap their range with several other quolls, regardless of gender. Females however, are known to occupy exclusive territories and be much more defensive of their home range. The Tiger Quoll is more arboreal than other quoll species and they particularly like to use fallen logs while travelling, frequently jumping from one log to another without returning to the ground. These animals will seek shelter and den in a range of different structures such as hollow trees and logs, rock crevices, caves, subterranean burrows and clumps of dense vegetation . Communication within a population of solitary, wide-ranging animals can be difficult and one solution Tiger Quolls employ is the use of ‘latrines’, communal areas where they can deposit scat (poo) and scent mark. These sites are critical to Tiger Quoll populations as they may operate as a ‘Quoll Facebook page’, enabling local Quolls to keep track of related individuals and maintain social cohesion. These latrines likely also assist in reproduction by advertising female sexual receptivity and male presence or dominance. Another benefit of latrine sites and quoll poop (scat) is that conservation dogs can be trained to detect them. This means that dog and handler teams can search large areas of bush and detect evidence of quolls without actually tracking or disturbing the animal itself. The Otways has a conservation dog program up and running with a number of dogs conducting surveys for Tiger Quoll scats through the Otways Conservation Dogs program.
Tiger Quolls are important predators in the environment and eat a range of prey species from small Antechinus species and native rats to possums, birds, reptiles, invertebrates and even European rabbits. A Tiger Quoll’s diet will vary in response to changes in the abundance of different prey species, however Tiger Quolls in East Gippsland, VIC, have shown that in general 80% of the prey they consumed was medium-sized . Tiger Quolls have been shown to actively hunt for arboreal mammals but they will also feed on carrion when it is available .
As Tiger Quolls have large home ranges, den in a variety of vegetation structures and primarily hunt arboreal (tree-dwelling) mammals very large areas of habitat are likely to be required in order to support a viable population of Tiger Quolls. This means that habitat loss and fragmentation are a serious threat to the continued survival of the Tiger Quoll. Increasing pressure from cats and foxes are another severe threat to their future as both foxes and cats are known to kill Tiger Quolls, particularly when these animals are still young and dispersing from their den sites . On top of that, niche and diet overlap is quite high between the Quoll and introduced predators, which means Tiger Quolls, foxes and cats are competing closely for the same food resources . This kind of competition between carnivores can strongly affect their behaviour, abundance and distribution with ongoing effects on the biodiversity of prey species .
As you can see, the odds are stacked up against the Tiger Quoll here in the Otways and we need your help to save them! Please report any sightings of this spectacular spotted species to our threatened species hotline:
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Things to look for:
- Spots! If you see a furry creature running around with beautiful white spots all over its body (including its tail), then it’s likely you have just spotted a Tiger Quoll.
- A long tail held horizontally behind a stocky and well-built body running in a bounding overstep pattern.
- Remember that this is an animal that is more than capable of climbing, so don’t forget to look up as well!
Prickly Moses Spotted Ale
Working to protect a rare, endangered tiger quoll usually involves work in the field, habitat restorations and captive breeding project, but helping out the endangered tiger quoll can also mean drinking a beer — or at least buying one.
The Prickly Moses Spotted Ale is a special brew in a spotted-themed partnership between Otway Brewing and the Otway Conservation Centre. It’s a golden ale, an easy sessional drinking beer and 100% of the profits of this beer go to the Conservation Ecology Centre. Since 2013, nearly $150,000 has been donated to support conservation and research programs across the Otways.
The partnership was the idea of Andrew Noseda, CEO of Otway Brewing, “The partnership was a natural step for the company. We wanted to support the Conservation Ecology Centre because we are committed to the region, our beautiful natural environment and our community. Through the creation of this premium boutique beer, ‘Spotted Ale’, we are making a meaningful contribution to keeping Tiger Quolls safe in the Otways and beyond.”
Tiger Quolls are the largest remaining marsupial predators on the Australian mainland but their numbers are in serious decline. Though the Otways was traditionally a stronghold for these animals, there was no confirmed evidence of Tiger Quolls in the region for nearly a decade. That was until scientists at the Conservation Ecology Centre rediscovered the elusive species through DNA analysis. Since then there have been five pieces of evidence of quolls from different parts of the Otways.
Shayne Neal from Conservation Ecology Centre says, “When Otway Brewing came to us with the idea of partnering up and developing a beer there was a really amazing opportunity to put a tiger quoll on a beer bottle and raise the awareness of an animal that no one seems to know about. And raising awareness it did!”
The community has really got behind the quoll research and there is a much greater awareness around the quolls of the Otways now compared to five years ago. But whilst the quolls make a great mascot, the quoll research is just the beginning.
“The presence of the quoll in the Otways is really just an indicator of a healthy ecosystem,” according to Conservation Ecology Centre Ecologist Mark le Pla. Through the Otways Threatened Species Research Network, the Conservation Ecology Centre has now expanded their field studies to all the threatened species in the Otways, from the Tiger Quoll and Long-nosed Potoroo to the lesser known species such as Tall Astelia and the Swamp Antechinus.
It’s a win-win situation, your next pint could be contributing to the health of your local ecosystem—so drink up, and toast the tiger quolls that, in a small way, you’re helping to save one sip at the time.
Conservation Ecology Centre, Cape Otway
Prickly Moses Handcrafted Beer, Otway Estate Winery & Brewery, Barongarook
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