15 August, 2019  By: Tatum Stafford

Cute, furry and no stranger to a selfie, it's fair to say the quokka is a national treasure. 

Quokkas are one of the first Australian mammals to be recorded by European settlers, and luckily for we Western Australians, these little critters call Rottnest Island home. 

But how much do we really know about them? Here are five things you might not know about quokkas. 

1. There are nearly 12,000 of them living on Rottnest

Rottnest supports the largest known quokka population – and the island’s minimal predator count is beneficial for quokka survival. Aside from Rottnest, small groups of quokkas can also be found on Bald Island in the South West.

2. Like kangaroos, baby quokkas are called joeys

Quokkas come from the macropod family, which also encompasses wallabies, kangaroos and a few other species. Macropods are herbivorous pouched marsupials that are native to Australia, and similar to kangaroos, quokkas are characterised by their strong back legs that can hop through vegetation and thick grasses.

3. They smile to help cool off

Whilst it’s nice to think quokkas are permanently smiling at any humans they encounter, this expression is actually due to evolution. Similar to dogs, quokkas’ mouths open slightly so they can pant and cool themselves down – so if you visit Rottnest on a warm summer day, you’ll be sure to find some happy quokkas hanging around.

4. You can be fined for feeding them

Though it may be difficult to restrain from gifting them a few crumbs of your lunch, feeding a quokka ‘human’ food will earn you a $300 fine. 'Human' food that is high in salt can really dehydrate and worsen quokkas' health - so though these cute creatures may approach you whilst at Rottnest, avoid feeding them at all costs. 

5. They are generally nocturnal

Quokkas can often be found napping in the shade during the daytime, and will come out to play at night. Those visiting Rottnest should be particularly careful when cycling at dusk – though clever quokkas are usually quite good at dodging visitors. 

Want to pay the quokkas a visit?

Members save on ferry trips with Rottnest Express. 

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