Animals

Facts about Quokkas

25 facts about Quokkas

The world’s happiest animal

Quokkas are famous for their “smile.” These small marsupials inhabit certain parts of Australia and have become somewhat of a world phenomenon. Ever since the 2010s, masses of tourists travel to their habitats, and eagerly photograph their “smiley faces”. Their particular ability to always look good in a selfie made them a worldwide sensation.
1
Quokka (Setonix brachyurus), also called a short-tailed scrub wallaby, is a marsupial of the Setonix genus.
It belongs to the macropod family and is the only representative of the Setonix genus.
2
“Quokka” derives from a Nyungar word “gwaga”, or “kwaka.”
Nyungar is an Australian Aboriginal language, spoken mainly by the Noongar community.
3
Quokkas are native to Western Australia.
They inhabit small islands of the Western Australia coasts, particularly Bald Island, and Rottnest Island, and the south western parts of the mainland.
4
Rottnest Island owes its name to the population of quokkas.
Willem de Vlamingh, captain of the Dutch fleet, upon arriving on the island in 1696, thought quokkas were enormous rats. He then called the place ‘t Eylandt ’t Rottenest, meaning “Rats’ Nest Island.”
5
The population of quokkas on Rottnest Island is the largest.
Around 10,000 quokkas live there today.
6
Quokkas are relatively small for macropods.
They grow up to 40 to 55 centimeters long, and their weight ranges from 2,5 to 5 kg. Their tails reach up to 30 centimeters. They manifest sexual dimorphism—males are bigger and heavier than females.
7
Quokkas are adapted for arboreal locomotion.
Initially, their musculoskeletal system was adapted for terrestrial bipedal saltation, common among marsupials. They are capable of climbing trees up to 1,5 meters.
8
Quokkas are nocturnal.
They sleep during the day, hidden under prickly Acanthocarpus plants, endemic to Western Australia. At dusk, they venture for food, and to mate.
9
The average lifespan of a quokka is approximately 10 years in the wild, and up to about 15 years in captivity.
Quokkas can be found in various Australian zoos, including Sydney Zoo, and Perth Zoo.
10
Quokkas’ breeding season depends on their habitat.
The breeding season is shorter on Rottnest Island and lasts from January to August. On the mainland, however, quokkas can breed throughout all year.