If you’re an animal lover and also love to enjoy a vacation in a remote location, then a visit to these little mammals in their natural habitat is just the perfect plan.
The short-tailed scrub wallaby (scientifically named setonix brachyurus) can be often mistaken for a wild cat, as they’re around the same size and shape. Commonly known as the ‘quokka’, the term probably originates from the language of the Nyungar people, who were aborigines of the area. They weigh around 2.5-5 kg and can live up to 10 years.
Quokkas are herbivores and nocturnal, often found using the same spot to sleep during the daytime and carrying their ones in a pouch just like a kangaroo. They live in herds, with the dominant male being responsible for protection and shelter. Quokkas are also capable of climbing trees, and do not need their tail for support though they use their hind legs for movement when traveling long distances.
Found together in colonies, they can be seen on Rottnest Island, which is off the coast of Australia. In fact, the island got its name from the “nests of huge rats” or “cat-like” creatures, by the first scientist that spotted them. The isolation or distance hasn’t exactly stopped them from grabbing the attention of both natives and tourists alike. They are so friendly that pictures can be taken alongside their tiny bodies, for they would just stand still and smile. Quokkas aren’t commonly found, but the struggle and long travel are totally worth capturing that memory in a photo, along with their smile that makes the world regard them as “the happiest animals on Earth.”
Such close contact with humans made the authorities impose a ban on feeding them, especially providing them with human food as it could make them really sick. Quokkas do need a huge supply of water, much of which is obtained from their diet of grass, leaves, or other forms of vegetation.
Quokkas are already included in the list of vulnerable species by the IUCN. The reasons behind this vary from starvation (due to the decrease in vegetation thanks to deforestation and increase in human population and habitation) to being hunted down by snakes, its main predator, besides foxes and dogs. The recent forest fires along the Australian woods have also drastically reduced the population. As they mate only twice a year, the need for its conservation has been emphasized on, as well as preservation of their territory. Awareness programs have thus been initiated, with travellers told of their importance and locals reminded of the same, to help protect these cute furry creatures that their smiles may light up the faces of the future generations too.