Scientists Say: Quoll

This animal may look like a cat or a rat, but it’s a marsupial


This isn’t a cat or a rat. It’s a tiger quoll, a marsupial found in Australia.

Dcoetzee/Wikimedia Commons

Quoll (noun, “KWAHL”)

A type of marsupial. These mammals carry their young in a pouch outside their belly. Quolls are a genus — a group of closely related species. There are six species of quoll, all of which live in Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania. The size of a house cat, they dine on lizards, small birds, smaller mammals and insects.

In a sentence

The cane toad has invaded Australia, and the toxic amphibian can poison quolls who mistake it for food.

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Power Words

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genus  (plural: genera) A group of closely related species. For example, the genus Canis — which is Latin for “dog” — includes all domestic breeds of dog and their closest wild relatives, including wolves, coyotes, jackals and dingoes.

marsupials  Mammals that carry their young for a period after birth in external pouches where the developing babies will have access to their mother’s nipples — and milk. Most of these species evolved in Australian and have especially long hind-legs. Examples of marsupials include kargaroos, opossums and koalas.

quoll    A small, meat-eating marsupial that has a spotted coat and looks similar to a cat. These animals are native to Australia and New Guinea.

Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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