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).
Tiger Quolls are dependent on habitats ranging from rainforest to wet and dry eucalypt forest and woodlands (5, 6, 7, 8). Individuals can have substantial home-ranges of up to 800ha for males and 400ha for females, although these may still be underestimates (9, 10). 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 (9). 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 (10). 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 (6, 11, 12, 13, 14). 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 (15). These latrines likely also assist in reproduction by advertising female sexual receptivity and male presence or dominance (15). 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 (1). 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 (1). Tiger Quolls have been shown to actively hunt for arboreal mammals but they will also feed on carrion when it is available (16).
As Tiger Quolls have large home ranges, den in a variety of vegetation structures and primarily hunt arboreal (tree-dwelling) mammals (1, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14), 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 (14, 17). 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 (18, 19, 20). This kind of competition between carnivores can strongly affect their behaviour, abundance and distribution with ongoing effects on the biodiversity of prey species (21, 22, 23, 24, 25).
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:
0 ‘I SPOTTED’ 1 (0 4 7768833 1)
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!
- Belcher, C.A. (1995). Diet of the Tiger Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) in East Gippsland, Victoria.Wildlife Research. 22 (3). 341-357.
- Glen, A.S., Cardso, M.J., Dickman, C.R., Firestone, K.B. (2009) Who’s your daddy? Paternity testing reveals promiscuity and multiple paternity in the carnivorous marsupial Dasyurus maculatus (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae), Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 96, 1-7
- Belcher, C.A. (2003). Demographics of Tiger Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus maculatus) populations in south-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology. 51. 611-626.
- Dickman, C.R. and Read, D.G. (1992). The biology and management of dasyurids of the arid zone in NSW. Species Management Report Number 11. NPWS, Hurstville.
- Mansergh, I. (1984). The status, distribution and abundance of Dasyurus maculatus (tiger quoll) in Australia, with particular reference to Victoria. Australian Zoologist. 21. 109-122.
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- Edgar, R., and Belcher, C. A. (1995). Spotted-tailed quoll. In ‘The Mammals of Australia’. (Ed. R. Strahan.) pp. 67-69. (Australian Museum Reed New Holland: Sydney.)
- Jones, M., and Rose, R.K. (1996). Preliminary assessment of distribution and habitat associations of the spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus maculatus) and eastern quoll (viverrinus) in Tasmania to determine conservation and reservation status. Nature Conservation Branch, Parks and Wildlife Service. Report to the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement Environment and Heritage Technical Committee.
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- Glen, A.S., Berry, O., Sutherland, D.R., Garretson, S., Robinson, T., and de Tores, P.J. (2010). Forensic DNA confirms intraguild killing of a chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii) by a feral cat (Felis catus). Conservation Genetics. 1099-1101.
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