Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Is it a rat ... a kangaroo ... no, it's a quokka

This promised installment to relive our holiday on Rottnest Island looks at what the Rottnest Island Authority very timidly describes as "possibly the most well known animal on Rottnest Island" (if anyone can tell me a better-known Rotto animal, I'd love to know what it is).

Our friendliest quokka (pictured) hopped around under our outdoor lunch table at the appropriately-named Quokka Arms Hotel. Practically speaking, they're unique to Rottnest Island (you might occasionally spot one elsewhere in Western Australia) and Dutch explorer de Vlamingh thought they were rats, and the name of the island comes from "rat nest" in Dutch.

They're cute, like lots of other Aussie animals, but they're also classified as "vulnerable" in the conservation stakes: around 10,000 of them still live on Rottnest but this can drop to 4,000 in a year with a bad supply of food and water. But like all wild animals (getting on my high horse here) you shouldn't feed them, and you can get fined for doing so.

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