The spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus -
or tiger cat as it was once inappropriately known) is the second largest of the world's surviving carnivorous marsupials. Spotted-tailed quolls vary from reddish brown to dark chocolate brown with white spots on the body and tail (unlike eastern quolls which do not have spots on the tail). The species is considerably larger than the eastern quoll
, with males measuring up to 130 cm long and 4 kg in weight. Females are significantly smaller than males.
The eyes and ears of the spotted-tailed quoll are comparatively smaller than those of fellow marsupial the eastern quoll
. Also, the spotted-tailed quoll is physically strong in appearance, with a thick snout and wide gape.
Distribution and habitat
The spotted-tailed quoll is also found on the east coast of mainland Australia, but is rare. Two subspecies have been descibed -- a smaller one (D. m. gracilis)
is found in northern Queensland. D. m. maculatus
occurs from southern Queensland to Tasmania. The spotted-tailed quoll is now threatened throughout its mainland range.
Spotted-tailed quolls are most common in cool temperate rainforest, wet sclerophyll forest and coastal scrub along the north and west coasts of the state.
Behaviour and diet
Spotted-tail quolls are largely solitary and nocturnal, although the species does sometimes forage and bask during daylight hours. Spotted-tailed quolls spend a tenth of their time moving with agility above the forest floor on logs or in trees.
The spotted-tailed quoll is a capable hunter that, like the eastern quoll, kills its prey by biting on or behind the head. Prey taken by the spotted-tailed quoll include rats, gliding possums, small or injured wallabies, reptiles and insects. Birds and eggs are also taken from time to time. Carrion is frequently eaten by spotted-tailed quolls and even tip scavenging and beachcombing occur. Large spotted-tailed quolls compete directly with Tasmanian devils
for food -- one female has even been seen to chase a Tasmanian devil away from a carcase!
Breeding is similar to the eastern quoll
. Females breed only once a year unless they fail to find a mate or lose their litter early, at which time they will try to breed again. Breeding occurs in early winter with females giving birth to up to 6 young after a gestation period of 21 days. After about 10 weeks the young are left in grass-lined dens located in burrows or hollow logs leaving the female free to hunt and forage. If the female needs to move to a different den she carries the young along on her back. Towards the end of November, when the young are 18 to 20 weeks old, they are weaned (stop suckling) and become independent of the female. Sexual maturity is reached at one year.
This protected species is listed as Rare under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995.
Please see our Living with Wildlife
page for further details.