The Spotted-tailed Quoll is about the size of a domestic cat, from which it differs most obviously in its shorter legs and pointed face. The average weight of an adult male is about 3500 grams and an adult female about 2000 grams. It has rich-rust to dark-brown fur above, with irregular white spots on the back and tail, and a pale belly. The spotted tail distinguishes it from all other Australian mammals, including other quoll species. However, the spots may be indistinct on juvenile animals.
The range of the Spotted-tailed Quoll has contracted considerably since European settlement. It is now found in eastern NSW, eastern Victoria, south-east and north-eastern Queensland, and Tasmania. Only in Tasmania is it still considered relatively common.
Habitat and ecology
- Recorded across a range of habitat types, including rainforest, open forest, woodland, coastal heath and inland riparian forest, from the sub-alpine zone to the coastline.
- Individual animals use hollow-bearing trees, fallen logs, small caves, rock outcrops and rocky-cliff faces as den sites.
- Mostly nocturnal, although will hunt during the day; spends most of the time on the ground, although also an excellent climber and will hunt possums and gliders in tree hollows and prey on roosting birds.
- Use communal ‘latrine sites’, often on flat rocks among boulder fields, rocky cliff-faces or along rocky stream beds or banks. Such sites may be visited by multiple individuals and can be recognised by the accumulation of the sometimes characteristic ‘twisty-shaped’ faeces deposited by animals.
- A generalist predator with a preference for medium-sized (500g-5kg) mammals. Consumes a variety of prey, including gliders, possums, small wallabies, rats, birds, bandicoots, rabbits, reptiles and insects. Also eats carrion and takes domestic fowl.
- Females occupy home ranges up to about 750 hectares and males up to 3500 hectares. Are known to traverse their home ranges along densely vegetated creeklines.
- Average litter size is five; both sexes mature at about one year of age. Life expectancy in the wild is about 3-4 years.