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Information Species Best place Identification Habitat Foraging Reproduction Sociality Readings
The Quokka is a small, stocky macropod with a short tail and is unrelated to the wallabies that it resembles.
Rottnest Island habitat of the Quokka
The largest extant Quokka population is on Rottnest Island where Dutch explorers saw it in the late 1600s.
Quokka on beach
Quokkas use the beach on Rottnest Island and are well-habituated to visitors.
Geographic distribution of the Quokka
Geographic distribution of the Quokka represented by coverage of 1:250,000 map sheets of Australia (see www.ga.gov.au for Australian maps).

General information

Kangaroos are marsupials and belong to the Family Macropodidae (i.e. big feet) that is grouped with the Potoroidae (potoroos, bettongs, rat-kangaroos) and Hypsiprymnodontidae (musky rat-kangaroo) in the Super-Family, Macropodoidea. This comprises around 50 species in Australia and a dozen or more in New Guinea.  Some of the smaller species, such as Yellow-footed Rock-Wallabies, Burrowing Bettongs, accompanied Pig-footed and Golden Bandicoots, Bilbies and possibly Hairy-nosed Wombats into extinction with the advent of pastoralism. However, the largest species remain in much of their original range with the grey kangaroos expanding inland as grazing habitat increased and coastal habitat was lost in clearance for agriculture. The defining feature of the kangaroo family is that they are the largest vertebrates to hop (both currently and from what we know from palaeontology).


The Quokka is one of three 'anomalous' species (the other two are the Swamp Wallaby and the Banded Hare-wallaby) in the macropods that are in mono-specific genera and have uncertain relationships to other genera, especially the diverse Macropus  and Thylogale. These species typically browse more than graze and may be remnants of a clade of browsing macropods. The closest relative of the Quokka appears to be the Rock-wallabies




Setonix brachyurus ('bristle-footed short-tail')


Best place to see

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Rottnest Island is about 32 km west of Perth and 19 km west Fremantle. Access to Rottnest Island is over water by ferries take approximately 30 minutes from Fremantle or 1 hour from Perth. Flights are also available from Perth's Jandakot Airport. Rottnest Island has a varied history from Aboriginal occupation dating back more than 4,500 years ago to an Aboriginal prison from 1838. There have been various attempts at farming, pastoralism and salt gathering. Recreational use began to dominate from 1903 and the island was declared a reserve 1917 which no doubt helped to conserve the Quokka whose geographic range on the mainland is much diminished since European colonisation. Given the current recreational orientation of the island, there are many accommodation choices including campsites and cabins, villas, bungalows and units.



Mature males range from 2.7 – 4.2 kg and females range from 1.6 – 3.5 kg. The Quokka is small in stature and short and squat.  The fur is long, thick and coarse over an underfur that is long, soft and dark grey.  The overall colour is a uniform grizzled grey-brown with some rufous highlights.  The face lacks any distinctive markings like cheek stripes and is grizzled grey lighter on the cheeks.  The ears are short, rounded and embedded in the thick fur of the head.  The backs of the ears are densely furred and a grizzled grey.  The back fur is grizzled with grey and black, and lacks any markings.  The arms and legs follow the general body colour but the hands and feet are brown.  The tail is very short, brown above and grey-white beneath and relative to the rest of the body is lightly furred.



To be added


Foraging behaviour



Reproductive behaviour



Social organisation



Further readings

Baudinette RV (1977) Locomotory energetics in a marsupial, Setonix brachyurus. Australian Journal Of Zoology 25, 423-428.

Blumstein DT, Daniel JC, McLean IG (2001) Group size effects in quokkas. Australian Journal Of Zoology 49, 641-649.

Hayward MW (2005) Diet of the quokka (Setonix brachyurus) (Macropodidae: Marsupialia) in the northern jarrah forest of Western Australia. Wildlife Research 32, 15-22.

Hayward MW, de Tores PJ, Augee ML, Banks PB (2005) Mortality and survivorship of the quokka (Setonix brachyurus) (Macropodidae: Marsupialia) in the northern jarrah forest of Western Australia. Wildlife Research 32, 715-722.

Kitchener DJ (1981) Factors influencing selection of shelter by individual quokkas, Setonix brachyurus (Marsupialia), during hot summer days on Rottnest Island. Australian Journal Of Zoology 29, 875-884.

Nicholls DG (1971) Daily and seasonal movements of the quokka, Setonix brachyurus (Marsupialia), on Rottnest Island. Australian Journal Of Zoology 19, 215-226.