Endangered Quolls breeding well in captivity in Darwin
June 2008. The Northern Territory Wildlife Park in Australia has welcomed their first litter of baby northern quolls (Dasyurus hallucatus) for the 2008 breeding season. So far 15 litters have been born over the past few weeks, with many more expected from the 23 pairs of quolls that live at the Park.
Northern Quoll - Largest predatory marsupial in Northern Australia
At the size of a small cat, the northern quoll is the largest predatory marsupial found in northern Australia and is easily recognised by the distinct white spots in their grey-brown fur. The captive breeding program at the Territory Wildlife Park provides additional support for the species and aims to preserve the genetic diversity of northern quolls by maintaining a viable population in captivity.
Numbers crashed due to Cane toads
The northern quoll breeding program was established in 2005 after quoll numbers in the Top End were severely affected by toxic cane toads.
"Whilst some cane toads have caused local extinction of northern quolls in many areas of the Top End mainland, occasionally wild quolls are still sighted and these individuals appear to be co-existent with the toads," Mr Easton said.
Territory Wildlife Park Acting Manager, Brett Easton said that it is the third successful year for the Park's Endangered Species Northern Quoll Captive Breeding Program.
"We are unsure at the moment as to how many young are in each pouch as they are very small and undeveloped, however the usual litter size is between six and eight depending on the number of teats, with some females having as many as ten offspring, so a conservative number would be as many as 90 baby northern quolls" Mr Easton said.
Remain in pouch for 8 weeks
Quoll infants in mothers pouch.
"The quolls remain in their mothers' pouches until they are about eight weeks of age, before being left in a den until they are 12 weeks of age. Once the offspring are fully developed they will be used to continue the genetic diversity of the captive population and will be fundamental in a collaborative research project with the University of Western Sydney to determine if quolls can learn to avoid cane toads. In 12 weeks time, when the babies venture out of their dens, it will be exciting to see exactly how many babies we have."
The Territory Wildlife Park is interested in knowing about any quoll sightings. Any sightings of northern quolls can be reported to the Endangered Species Conservation Unit at the Territory Wildlife Park on 8988 7200.