Spotted- tailed Quoll
Dasyurus maculatus

The Quoll is a member of the Dasyurids family, it is a Marsupial, and it is carnivorous, it is in fact one of the largest of carnivorous marsupials we have in Australia. It is a rich rufus brown above, paler below, with white spots of different size all over the body including the tail. The head and body length is 38-75 cm in males; females are smaller 34-45cm. The male weighs up to 7 kg, the female 4 kg.
Tail length is almost the same size as the body length in both male and female.
It is found on the east coast in sclerophyll forest and rainforest, unfortunately most of us will never see one in the wild. Due to land clearing having removed suitable habitat, competition from feral cats and foxes, its numbers have been greatly reduced. It is now believed that if the last forest areas where these critters live are opened up for logging the Quoll will be unable to survive.
Once upon a time this area also had another specie of Quoll being the Eastern Quoll, it was found in the early days from Southern Queensland right through to Tasmania, it is now only found in Tasmania. Let us hope the introduction of foxes in Tasmania will not mean the disappearance forever of this particular specie of Quoll.
The Spotted tailed Quoll become sexually mature at 1 year old, the female will give birth to an average of 5 young. She will carry her young in her pouch till they are 7 weeks old, and the young become independent at 18 weeks. Breeding takes place from April to July. The male will defend the nest site which can be in a hollow log, rock caves, or even in trees, but have little to do with his offspring.
It is mainly nocturnal as are most of our marsupials, but can still be found in the sun foraging or sunning itself.

Image by Debra Hobbs

The Quoll is a very good hunter, prey can be birds, small macropods, possums, rats and reptiles, and it will also clean up carcasses of domestic animals.

The Australian Museum Complete book of Australian mammals.
The Encyclopaedia of Australian Mammals by Ronald Strahan.

The following material written by Rhianna Blackthorn, Joseph Sparks and Nicholas Whitney



The IUCN Red List identifies the Spotted-tailed Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus maculatus) with the status of “near threatened” (Burnett & Dickman, 2008). The “near threatened” status indicates that the species is considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild (International Union for Conservation of Nature, 2001).

Nationally the Spotted-tailed Quoll is listed as “endangered” under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. A species is considered to be “endangered” when it is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future.

In New South Wales the Spotted-tailed Quoll is listed as “vulnerable” under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

Species listed as “vulnerable” are considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in New South Wales in the medium-term future. The Spotted-tailed Quoll is known to occur in five other states. Conservation status for those states can be seen in Table 1.
Table 1: Conservat ion status of the Spotted-tailed Quol l (Dasyurus maculatus) in the states it is known to occur.

State Status Legislation :

New South Wales Vulnerable Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995
Queensland Vulnerable Nature Conservation Act 1992
ACT Vulnerable Nature Conservation Act 1980
Victoria Endangered Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988
Tasmania Rare Threatened Species Protection Act 1995
South Australia Endangered (presumed to be extinct)
National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972


Spotted-tailed Quolls are the largest extant carnivorous marsupial on mainland Australia. In New South Wales, they are also known as Tiger Quolls, Tiger Cats, Native Cats or Spottailed Quoll. Two subspecies are currently recognised on the mainland; Dasyurus maculatus gracilis, which is restricted to northern Queensland and D.m.maculatus to which this plan of
management relates. Genetic studies indicate the likelihood of a third subspecies in Tasmania. As this new subspecies is not yet formalised, it is referred to in the literature as Daysurus maculatus maculatus (Tasmanian Population) (Firestone et al., 1999; Belcher, 2003).


This medium sized, robust marsupial is considered terrestrial and nocturnal, but is an agile climber and is known to hunt throughout the day in hunt of sleeping prey (Jones & Barmuta, 1998; Belcher, 2003; Glen & Dickman, 2006). The rich fur of the Spotted-tailed Quoll can be described as rufus, ranging from orange-brown, olive-brown to grey-brown with both fawn and black markings evident. The underside is paler, ranging from light brown to creamy white (National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW), 1999). The spots are white to cream and extend onto the tail in this species, identifying it from the other subspecies.
The head is pointed with dark but bright eyes and a moist pink slightly rounded nose (Department of Sustainability, unknown). The ears are delicate, rounded and naked internally with only sparse hair externally (Jones et al., 2001).
Like all carnivorous marsupials, the jaws are strong and powerful with sharp teeth. They have four pairs of upper (but three lower) pairs of incisors, two well developed canines, two premolars and four molars. The teeth are extremely sharp in the first year of life but are dull and rounded by the third. Some may be broken or missing entirely by the fourth year
(Belcher, 2003).
The body and tail are long and well muscled while the legs are relatively short. There are five toes on both hands and feet including a hallux on the feet (Jones et al., 2001). The soles of the feet and palms of the hands are naked and extend to the wrists and heels (Jones et al., 2001; Andrew, 2005). The hands are dexterous when manipulating objects (Andrew, 2005).
Head and body lengths measure 350 – 759 mm with tails extending 340 – 550 mm (Andrew, 2005). Sexual dimorphism is pronounced in this species (Jones et al., 2001; Belcher, 2003; Andrew, 2005). Males can take up to three years to achieve adult body weight of 2.8 kg (range 2.0 – 4.2 kg) (Table 1). Females may reach their adult body of weight 1.7kg (range 1.2– 2.1 kg) within two years (Belcher, 2003). Table 2: The age of a Spotted-tai led Quoll may be determined by observing the body condition, weight, and dentition characteristics. Summarised from (Belcher, 2003)

Age Female weight (k) Male weight (k) Characteristics 1 year 0.7 – 1.0 1.2 – 1.6

• Fine build

• Unscarred

• Teeth unworn and are extremely sharp

2 years 1.2 – 2.0 2.0 – 2.7

• Heavier in body condition

• Teeth unworn and canines are sharp

3 years 1.4 – 2.1 2.5 – 4.2

• Muscular, well developed body

• Teeth intact but are rounded or have missing tips

4 years Maintained or decreased body condition.

• Teeth may be missing and canines are worn and round

5 years Poorer body condition

• Lost and broken teeth, particularly canines


The Spotted-tailed Quoll is found along the eastern seaboard from southern Queensland to Victoria and into Tasmania. In New South Wales, Spotted-tailed Quolls are known to occur on both sides of the Great Dividing Range and can be found as far west as Bourke (Belcher, 2003; Belcher et al., 2007; Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW), 2011a).
The known habitat range of this species has undergone retraction due to fragmentation and habitat loss. Climate change may also affect the range for this species. These subjects are discussed later.

The head structure, dark eyes, pink nose and hand composi tion is clear ly seen in this
image. This photo was taken at the Conservation Ecology Centre is used with permission of
the photographer, Lucia Griggi.



The known habitat for this species ranges from woodlands to rainforests (Jones & Barmuta, 1998; Belcher, 2003; Glen & Dickman, 2006; Belcher et al., 2007; Belcher, 2008). Wet sclerophyll forests, dry sclerophyll forests, steep, rocky country and coastal heaths have all been reported as habitats for this species (Edgar & Belcher, 1995; Belcher, 2000; Jones et al., 2001; Jones et al., 2003). They have been identified from sea level to elevations above 1,500 m (Edgar & Belcher, 1995). The broadness of the habitat requirements for this species in the literature has highlighted the need for further studies to define such.

The Spotted-tailed Quoll is a forest dependent species, preferring old growth forests (Belcher, 2000). It has been suggested that they may be less flexible in their tolerated environmental conditions than other carnivorous marsupials due to their obligate feeding patterns (Jones et al., 2003).

Historically, Spotted-tailed Quolls appeared in greater numbers in areas receiving <600 mm rainfall per annum (Dickman & Read, 1992; Edgar & Belcher, 1995; Jones et al., 2001). It is unclear why they have not adapted to more arid habitats, although it is speculated that this large carnivore niche is occupied by organisms such as the dingo (Canis lupus dingo) and goanna (Varanus spp.) (Dickman, 2003).

Reports of Spotted-tailed Quolls on farmlands are not uncommon in areas where cultivated lands adjoining forested areas, particularly where chickens are kept (Jones et al., 2001; Jones et al., 2003). The potential for persecution is discussed later.


Sexual maturity in females is thought to be at two years of age and they may continue breeding up to four years of age, although not all females appear to breed in consecutive years (Belcher, 2003). Mating occurs between late June and early August. Females give birth between mid July to late August to 4 to 6 young (Belcher, 2000). Although sufficient young
are produce, the ratio of adults to juveniles suggests that the average number of young weaned per female could be as low as one to two per season (Belcher, 2003).

Like other marsupials, the young are born in an embryonic state compared to placental mammals. The young measure 7 mm (head – body length) at birth (Andrew, 2005). The young remain in the pouch for approximately seven weeks. Social play is well developed by 13 weeks however, the young remain close to their mother. The juveniles are weaned at 18 –
20 weeks (weigh 250 – 400 grams) and are considered independent by that age (Belcher, 2003). Maturity is achieved at the age of one year.


There is limited research regarding the demographics of wild populations and much of what is known regarding reproduction of this species is derived from captive breeding studies and reviews (Belcher, 2003). Dated studies on wild populations revealed males are over represented with a ratio of ~11:1 (:) of captured quolls (Fleay, 1940; Mansergh, 1983; Green & Scarborough, 1990; Belcher, 2003). One over time case study in Badja and Tallaganda State Forests in southern NSW found annual changes in sex ratio change from (:) 8:1 to 3:1 and 1:5 to 1:1 respectively (Belcher, 2003).
Similarly, adult:sub-adult ratios can vary significantly. In the same case study numbers fluctuated from 10:1 to 3:1 and 2:1 to 5:3 respectively (Belcher, 2003). (During this study, sub adults are classified as immature individuals up to 1 year of age and sub adults up to 2 years of age. Adults are defined as sexually mature.)
Conclusions on population structures resulting from information gathered via capture surveys may be misleading due to behavioural differences between the sexes (Settle, 1978; Green & Scarborough, 1990; Belcher, 2003). This knowledge gap could best be resolved from intensive over time field studies that result in more reliable information regarding structure
and dynamics of population.


The Spotted-tailed Quoll is an agile hunter with opportunistic tendencies (Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW), 2008). Scat analysis of Spotted-tailed Quolls across their range has revealed that medium sized mammals (500 g - 7kg) form the bulk the diet (>50%) (Jones & Barmuta, 1998; Glen & Dickman, 2006; Belcher et al., 2007). Of the twenty prey taxa identified in the Spotted-tailed Quolls diet, 14 species were mammals (Belcher et al., 2007). In particular, the greater glider (Petauroides volans), rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), bandicoot (Perameles nasutalong), brushtail possum (Trichosurus spp) and ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) appear to be important prey species (Glen & Dickman, 2006; Belcher et al., 2007). Insects are also frequently consumed however, birds and reptiles appear to be consumed less frequently, forming a smaller portion of the diet (Jones & Barmuta, 1998; Glen & Dickman, 2006).

Once prey has been dispatched, they will often eat the entire animal, including the skull. The size and type of the prey taken appears to be divided based on sex; males consumed larger prey while females consumed smaller species (Jones & Barmuta, 1998; Belcher et al., 2007).

Nevertheless, statistical analysis showed no significant difference (2 = 5.002, d.f. = 4, P > 0.05) but is mentioned for overall management consideration (Belcher et al., 2007).


One study reported wombats and macropods as a food source from scat analysis but are assumed to have been carrion (Belcher et al., 2007). Another study suggests they may frequent campsites and houses in search for an easy meal (Jones et al., 2001). This opportunistic feeding nature may pose management problems around roadways and where
baiting is used for wild dog management. These issues are discussed later.


The Spotted-tailed Quoll is known to have at least 24 species of endoparasites including flukes (5), tapeworms (4), nematodes (14) and protozoa (1). At least 10 species of ectoparasites have also been identified for this species including mite (1), ticks (2), and fleas (7) (Obendorf, 1993). The fleas may be a source of irritation to the animal, and may result in
hair loss and infection (Obendorf, 1993; Jackson, 2003).


The physical characteristics of is species is an evolutionary trait that enables access to the ground borrows and tree hollows of their obligate prey species. Female Spotted-tailed Quolls have been observed 10 – 25 meters above the ground hunting for greater gliders in tree hollows and have been observed hunting in rabbit warrens throughout the daylight hours (Belcher et al., 2007). This diurnal hunting strategy fits this ecological pattern; with bodies not adapted to chase, the Spotted-tailed Quoll exploit prey species during periods of vulnerability while minimising energy expenditure (Belcher et al., 2007).


The den use requirements for this species are poorly understood and a Priority Action Plan exists emphasising the need to conduct and publish research with that regards (Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW), 2011c). Destruction of den sites is a recognised threatening process and den security should be considered in management options (Belcher &
Darrant, 2006).

Spotted-tailed Quolls have been known to utilise rock crevices, caves, bolder tumbles, tree hollows, hollow logs and burrows maintained by other species as den sites. One study indicated the preference for rock dens over hollow logs. Of five females radio tracked during the study, there was an overwhelming preference for rock dens (n = 10) over hollow logs (n = 2) and burrows (n = 3) (Belcher & Darrant, 2006). Den openings are often cryptic and can not be identified without direct observation, compounding management issues (Belcher & Darrant, 2006).

Limited den loyalty has been observed as some individuals have been recorded as using more than 15 dens within their home range. The exception to this would be females raring young or possibly during mating (Andrew, 2005). The exact number of den sites used by an individual is unknown; however, this number (15) should serve as a minimum requirement for this species.

Spotted-tailed Quoll prefer solitary dens although some females do use maternal dens on consecutive years (Andrew, 2005; Belcher & Darrant, 2006). Young are deposited in the maternal den from 8 weeks of age and may be moved to several maternal dens during this time until weaning.


Adult females display intersexual territoriality throughout the year but may tolerate the presence of female offspring. Adult male home ranges often overlap females and other males (Belcher & Darrant, 2004; Belcher, 2008). During the breeding season, males may traverse the territory of several females. This behaviour, coupled with body size comparisons
indicates a male dominance hierarchy (Belcher & Darrant, 2004).

The need to obtain information regarding habitat requirements is recognised by several Priority Action Plans and is considered a high priority. One study found that the mean home range size of adult male (3762 ha) is significantly larger than females (1113 ha) (Belcher & Darrant, 2004). This large area requirement may influence management decisions, leading to reserves across multiple land tenures. Connectivity between habitats is considered critical for
conservation of this species.


Quolls are considered to be generalists in diet and habitat, being able to survive in a variety of different habits off a wide range of food sources (Jones et al., 2001; Jones et al., 2003; Glen& Dickman, 2008). However, the Spotted-tailed Quoll is the most specialised of all the quoll species. Spotted-tailed Quolls require very specific habitats which affects available food sources. This dependence on narrow habitat and diet niches makes them likely candidates for mid term extinction and in need of conserving (Jones et al., 2003). In addition, there are several other factors that contribute to the Spotted-tailed Quolls vulnerability. Spotted-tailed Quolls are top order predators resulting in naturally low density and high sensitivity to changes in prey abundance (Jones et al., 2003; Burnett & Holmes, 2008). There are reproduction issues involving small litters with high infant mortality rates and low lifetime reproduction output; females may not breed in successive years (Fox & Jones, 2004).

Spotted-tailed Quolls require large home ranges to adequately cope with juvenile dispersal and solitary nature (Jones et al., 2001). All of these factors result in the Spotted-tailed Quoll being less flexible to changing environmental conditions and contribute to high vulnerability (Jones et al., 2003). Identifying the threats faced by the Spotted-tailed Quoll is essential for comprehensive, adequate and representative management of the species.


Fragmentation and declining availability of suitable habitat is recognised as the greatest threat to the Spotted-tailed Quoll (Dickman & Read, 1992; Jones et al., 2001; Jones et al., 2003; Long & Nelson, 2004; Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW), 2012). Habitat is lost through the clearing of vegetation for several of reasons; urban expansion, agriculture, forestry and silviculture, changed fire regimes and land degradation from introduced livestock.

Fragmentation of habitat and the removal of vegetation cover, including hollow logs, are the two largest issues. Vegetation provides security from introduced predators such as the red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and feral cats (Felis catus) which prefer to forage in cleared / noncontinuous vegetation (Jones et al., 2003; Glen & Dickman, 2008).

When habitat becomes fragmented it creates isolated “island” areas. Fragmented habitat has more exposed edges which creates two important management issues. Isolated populations gain increased exposure to other threats including; predation and competition from introduced species and increased human encounters in the form of persecution and road
morality (Dickman & Read, 1992; Jones et al., 2001; Morris et al., 2003; Long & Nelson, 2004; Glen & Dickman, 2008; Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW), 2012).

Populations in fragmented habitats are also genetically and geographically isolated making them highly vulnerable to natural events that can reduce populations below the recoverable threshold such as disease and wildfire (Dickman & Read, 1992; Jones et al., 2001; Jones et al., 2003; Long & Nelson, 2004). Female Spotted-tailed Quolls are likely to be philopatric i.e. they stay in the area in which they were born. This behaviour further contributes to
fragmentation and repopulation issue (Jones et al., 2003).

Spotted-tailed Quolls are partially arboreal making them dependant on structurally complex closed forest. This presents a land use conflict because Spotted-tail Quoll habitat is highly sought after by forestry (Jones et al., 2003).


Introduced species such as the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), feral cats (Felis catus) and wild dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) pose a threat to the Spotted-tailed Quoll. All four carnivores occupy a very similar and overlapping ecological niche resulting in competition for food sources through extensive dietary overlap and direct predation (Dickman & Read, 1992; Jones et al., 2001; Jones et al., 2003; Morris et al., 2003; Glen & Dickman, 2008; Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW), 2012). Foxes, feral cats, wild dogs and dingoes are all known to occur with in the study site (National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW), 2005).


Domestic dogs can be devastating to Spotted-tailed Quolls in rural areas for a number of reasons. Quolls are attracted to properties by food stores and poultry. Dogs often roam at night when quolls are active where they learn specific behaviour to kill quolls (Jones et al., 2003).


Feral cats in addition to competing with food sources are thought to compete with Spottedtailed Quolls through dens and nesting areas because the Spotted-tailed Quolls are partly arboreal in nature (Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW), 2012). However this area still requires critical evidence and is in need of further conclusive research. Feral cats are known to prey on other quoll species, however due to the Spotted-tailed Quoll relatively large size it is known to kill feral cats (Jones et al., 2003). While feral cats alone have not been shown to cause any significant decline in any quoll populations, they may pose a larger threat when present in conjunction with other threatening processes e.g. habitat degradation and population fragmentation (Jones et al., 2003; Long & Nelson, 2004).

It is interesting to note the dynamics between Spotted-tailed quolls and other carnivores. A mutually beneficial relationship between quolls and dingos has been shown. Dingos prey on foxes benefiting quolls through reduced competition. Quolls may also benefit from scavenging dingo kills (Jones et al., 2003). If dingoes are allowed to re-establish they may be
able to co-exist in undisturbed, continuous forest (Jones et al., 2003). Dingoes are known to displace foxes (Jones et al., 2003), and foxes have been demonstrated to control feral cats (Christensen & Burrows, 1994). Removal of any one of these introduced species could result in a population increase of prey species and in turn, an increase in Spotted-tailed Quoll population (Jones et al., 2003).


Quolls are known to eat cane toads (Bufo marinus) which cause death when ingested (Jones et al., 2001; Jones et al., 2003; Burnett & Holmes, 2008). Spotted-tailed Quolls and cane toads have overlapping distributions and a preference for similar habitat indicating increased likelihood of encounters. Cane toads have been implicated as a major factor in Northern Quoll population crashes. However several Queensland populations of Spotted-tailed Quolls persist in cane toad populated areas (Long & Nelson, 2004). The range of the cane toads now extends from the Queensland boarder south to Yamba (Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW), 2011b). It is highly likely that they already have or will spread to the study site in the near future however no records exist in the NSW BioNet Wildlife Atlas (Office of
Environment and Heritage (NSW), 2011a). Since the long term relationships between Spotted-tailed Quolls and cane toads is not well documented, the potential threat from cane toads should still be treated as serious.


There is little known about the effects of fire on Spotted-tailed Quolls (Long & Nelson, 2004). However, fire can impact on quoll habitat through the removal of low vegetation cover and den sites (Jones et al., 2003). The loss of these habitats that provided protection and cover could increase predation rates from foxes and feral cats because they prefer cleared
habitat (Long & Nelson, 2004; Glen & Dickman, 2008).

A study conducted by Dawson et al., (2007) showed that fire did not affect Spotted-tailed Quolls food sources. The quolls were able to capitalize of the abundance of feral rabbits and supplement their diet (Dawson et al., 2007). The rabbit’s ability to burrow makes it more adapt at survive the short time impacts of fires better than native species. Fires allowed rabbits to become abundant through the creation of more open space to their preference and new vegetation growth. As with cane toads, potential threat from fires should still be treated as serious.

The study site is highly susceptible to wildfire due to its rugged topography and few natural barriers resulting in large fires (National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW), 2005). Current fire management revolves around prescribed frequent burning to reduce fuel load aiding in fire control and limiting the size of wildfires (National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW), 2005).


The effects of Climate change by 2030 are largely unavoidable with projections showing increases in global temperature of 0.8°C - 1.5°C (CSIRO, 2011). If these changes cause climate zones shift latitudinally or altitudinally it could cause more habitat fragmentation or cause previously suitable habitat to be no longer appropriate (Jones et al., 2003). These
changes in climate zones could also extend the ranges and preferred habitats of introduced species that are threats to Spotted-tailed Quolls such as foxes and cane toads (Long & Nelson, 2004).

A face only a mother could love? This photo is of a captive Spotted-tailed Quoll and
was taken at the Conservation Ecology Centre is used with permission of the photographer,
Lucia Gr iggi



Since European settlement, quolls have suffered persecution from real or perceived damage (Jones et al., 2003). Quolls are known to raid food stores and prey on livestock particularly poultry of any variety (Dickman & Read, 1992; Jones et al., 2001; Jones et al., 2003; Long & Nelson, 2004). Spotted-tailed Quolls being the largest of the quoll species are capable of taking down prey much larger than themselves (Jackson, 2003). As a result of livestock poaching, they are often shot, trapped or poisoned. The effects of deliberate hunting and trapping on quoll populations have yet to be quantified (Jones et al., 2003; Long & Nelson, 2004). Continued clearing of quoll habitat is likely to result in increased human / quoll conflicts and potentially further persecution towards quolls (Long & Nelson, 2004). There are reports from local residents of Spotted-tailed Quolls raiding rural properties (L.Feltus, 2012, pers. com.).


The poison compound 1080 (Sodium fluoroacetate) used throughout Australia for controlling introduced species such as dingoes, feral cats, feral pigs (Sus scrofa), foxes and rabbits (Jones et al., 2001; Jones et al., 2003; Körtner et al., 2003; Körtner & Watson, 2005; Burnett & Holmes, 2008). Spotted-tailed Quolls are attracted to and susceptible to poison baits and as a result are victims of accidental poisoning as they are the non target species (Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW), 2012). However, as with Australian herbivores, quolls exhibit a small tolerance to compound 1080 (Jones et al., 2003; Körtner & Watson, 2005).

While it is known that the compound 1080 can kill individual Spotted-tailed Quolls, there is no clear evidence to determine if it has an affect at the population level (Jones et al., 2003). The effects of compound 1080 on Spotted-tailed Quolls depend on the quantity of poison used, the type of bait used and the delivery method (Jones et al., 2003; Körtner & Watson, 2005). Fox baits contain 3mg of compound 1080 and have been shown to have marginal impact on quolls (Körtner & Watson, 2005). It should be noted that baits aimed at wild dogs and dingoes commonly use 6mg of compound 1080 (Körtner & Watson, 2005).

The two common types of baits used are moist meat baits and dry baits. Moist meat baits pose a greater risk to Spotted-tailed Quolls as they show a preference for them and need to consume two dry baits in order for them to be fatal (Morris et al., 2003; Körtner & Watson, 2005). Spotted-tailed Quolls show a preference for aerial baits, bait stations and other surface placed baits depths of less than 10cm (Jones et al., 2003; Körtner & Watson, 2005). Spottedtailed Quolls are known to avoid baits buried at 15 cm depth (Jones et al., 2003).

Spotted-tailed Quolls are also a non-targeted species lethally affected by strychnine poisoning (Jones et al., 2003; Burnett & Holmes, 2008). The Southern Richmond Range Group Draft Plan of Management does not mention any current baiting programs, however reports from the local ranger indicate that aerial bating as since commenced (L.Feltus, 2012, pers. com.).
The extent, bait type and techniques are unknown.


Spotted-tailed Quolls are highly susceptible to road mortality due to their large home ranges, free roaming nature, fragmented habitat and opportunities scavenging for road kill carrion and insects (Jones, 2000; Jones et al., 2003; Long & Nelson, 2004). Males and dispersing juveniles are the most at risk; males have the largest of home ranges and juveniles disperse in search of new habitat (Jones et al., 2003; Long & Nelson, 2004). Spotted-tailed Quoll and other populations of large species with low densities in fragmented landscapes are adversely affected by road mortality (Jones, 2000).

Two roads travel the eastern and western boarders of the study area both in a north / south orientation. The Summerland Way is a state route and major road that enters the northern part of the study site through Banyabba State Forest travelling through approximately 15km of the study site before exiting. After exiting it continues south along the eastern boarder of Fortis Creek National Park. Coaldale Road mirrors the Summerland Way on the western side of the study site. The road shares a 5-7km boarder with Fortis Creek National Park after which it
takes a westerly direction.


All recommendations to management are intended to work in conjunction with current Commonwealth & State legislation and with the current Draft Plan of Management for the study site (National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW), 2005). If a conflict between documents arises the other document takes precedence over this Draft Spotted-tailed Quoll Plan of Management. All management actions shall be carried out by personnel with the appropriate and current training, under adequate supervision and with properly maintained equipment. This is to ensure personnel safety, uphold best practice and minimize any unintended damage or negative consequences that may arise.


In 2004 a Draft Recovery Plan was prepared under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This Draft Spotted-tailed Quoll Plan of Management references the Draft Recovery Plan extensively and takes many management actions from it. If any knowledge gaps or lack of clear guidance for management are found in this Draft Spotted-tailed Quoll Plan of Management, staff should be directed to the Draft National Recovery Plan.


ry plan exists for the Spotted-tailed Quoll. However, there exists 35 Priority Action Statements (PAS) which identify a broad number of strategies that are aimed to identify threats and actions to aid threatened species. They are intended to
promote the recovery of threatened species and the abatement of key threatened processes with in the state (NSW). Priority Action Statements apply to broad categories of fauna rather than individual species for greater protection, encompassing prey species, competitors, keystone species and habitats at the landscape level. The Spotted-tailed Quoll is grouped as a marsupial in this context. The 35 PAS consist of 7 high priorities, 21 medium priorities and 7 low priorities (Appendix 1). This Draft Spotted-tailed Quoll Plan of Management refers to and incorporates the State Priority Action Statements when applicable.


The study site is apart of a wider area of management that comes under the Southern Richmond Range Group Draft Plan of Management. The Plan of Management was developed by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service in 2005. Part 7 includes actions to implement the plan. Several sections are applicable to this Draft Spotted-tailed Quoll Plan of Management and will be incorporated when necessary.


To ascertain the abundance and distribution of Spotted-tailed Quoll populations with in the study area, increase the local knowledge base on Spotted-tailed Quoll ecology, reduce the impact of threatening processes on populations, provide education to the public, to halt or modify any current management practises that are deemed to have negative impacts on
Spotted-tailed Quolls and stop any potential decline in distribution and abundance.

The Spotted-tai led Quol l is adapted to climbing trees in search of food. This photo
was taken at the Conservation Ecology Centre is used with permission of the photographer,
Lucia Griggi.


Sufficient areas of suitable habitat and connectedness between patches need to be maintained.
These habitats need to be managed to avoid disturbances in areas where Spotted-tailed Quolls are known to occur (Jones et al., 2003; ACT Government, 2005). Management of these areas need to factor in;

• Size of habitat area for dispersing juveniles as this will aid genetic variation and gene flow between populations.

• The availability of quality food sources all year round i.e. management of prey species.

• Appropriately managed understorey for protection and foraging.

• Be sufficient in the requirements for breeding females – size, den sites, and availability of food sources.

Existing reserves are not likely to be sustainable in the long term management of the species given its behaviour – large home ranges, wide roaming and dispersing juveniles. Effective conservation will require a combination of on and off reserve measures. This will involve careful liaison will private land holders in the surrounding areas. Private land owners should be encouraged to take up conservation on their land through Property Vegetation Plans, Land for Wildlife and other initiatives (Long & Nelson, 2004).

Spotted-tailed Quolls are known to use corridors. Therefore there is a need for corridors in the study site to be tested for usage and promote animal movement between habitats (Long & Nelson, 2004). Corridors suffer from a high edge to centre ratio. This creates several management issues including invasive species (flora and fauna) and increased likelihood of human / Spotted-tailed Quoll conflict (Jones et al., 2003). Corridors should be identified, protected and enhanced to facilitate Spotted-tailed Quoll movement (Long & Nelson, 2004).

There is 1 high priority and 1 medium priority State Priority Action Statement that applies to habitat (Appendix 1). Native vegetation is managed according to Part 7; Section 4.2 of the Southern Richmond Range Group Draft Plan of Management.


If logging currently takes place or has the potential to be done in the future, care needs to be taken to retain a representative portion of tree hollows (Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW), 2012). Spotted-tailed Quolls have demonstrated a level of tolerance to some logging practices however, the short lived and seasonal breeding nature of Spotted-tailed Quolls makes populations susceptible to disturbance at certain key points during the year (Long &
Nelson, 2004). If logging does occur; it should be selective and restricted to not coincide with breeding season or dispersal periods (Thom, 1996). In addition, logging has been known to affect some of the Spotted-tailed Quoll’s prey species (Long & Nelson, 2004).

Ground cover clearing should be minimised to stop the creation of more favourable habitat for predators of the Spotted-tailed Quoll, namely foxes and feral cats (Thom, 1996). Felled trees should be left on site rather than burnt or piled to maintain understorey, ground cover and potential den sites (Thom, 1996). Good communication and liaison with the Logging Industry is paramount in carrying out management actions. Logging is not mentioned in the State Priority Action Statements. Actions concerning logging are in Part 7; Section 4.1 of the Southern Richmond Range Group Draft Plan of Management.


Understanding the requirements of primary prey species is critical in managing Spotted-tailed Quolls. As mentioned above, the greater glider, brushtail possum and ringtail possum are obligate hollow dependant arboreal species while the rabbit and bandicoot utilise ground burrows. Maintaining adequate habitat for prey species is identified as an essential
requirement for management of Spotted-tailed Quolls (Belcher et al., 2007).


Foxes, feral cats, wild dogs and dingoes are all known to occur with in the study site (National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW), 2005). Appropriate baiting regimes should be undertaken to effectively manage foxes, feral cats and wild dogs. Baiting regimes to minimise impacts on quolls is discussed in detail in the Poison Bating section of Management


Dingoes should be encouraged as they serve as a form of biological control. Dingoes are known to displace and directly prey upon foxes benefiting quolls through reduced competition (Jones et al., 2003). Spotted-tailed Quolls may also benefit from scavenging dingo kills (Jones et al., 2003). If dingoes are allowed to re-establish they may be able to coexist
as they show preference for similar habitat to Spotted-tailed Quolls; continuous forest (Jones et al., 2003). Continuos forest with ample ground cover should be maintained to the preference of Spotted-tailed Quoll & dingoes and to the exclusion of predators i.e. foxes.


Quolls are known to fatally eat cane toads due to their overlapping distribution and preference for similar habitat (Jones et al., 2001; Jones et al., 2003; Long & Nelson, 2004; Burnett & Holmes, 2008). Monitoring is required to track the distribution and arrival of cane toads to and within the study site as there are currently no records of cane toads in the area (Long & Nelson, 2004; Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW), 2011a). Animal death from cane toads is easily identifiable through distinctive external signs (Long & Nelson, 2004). All ground staff should be trained to recognise the signs and carcasses of dead animals should be removed to stop secondary poisoning. Accurate and detailed records of any Spotted-tailed Quoll deaths associated with cane toads should be kept to help aid other organisations working on controlling cane toad impacts and future management actions.

There are 3 medium priority State Priority Action Statements that apply to cane toads (Appendix 1). Introduced species are managed in Part 7; Section 4.5 of the Southern Richmond Range Group Draft Plan of Management. However, cane toads are not mentioned.


Fire regimes are largely dependent on the vegetation present. Spotted-tailed Quolls are known to live a wide variety of vegetation types. Species wide fire regimes are not practical. Fire regimes should be done on a per population basis, based on vegetation. As with logging,

Spotted-tailed Quolls have demonstrated a level of tolerance to some fire regimes however, the short lived and seasonal breeding nature of Spotted-tailed Quolls makes populations susceptible to disturbance at certain key points during the year (Dawson et al., 2007). More research is required to fully understand the long term post fire impacts (Long & Nelson, 2004).
Any prescribed burning should be done as to not coincide with breeding season or juvenile dispersal periods (Thom, 1996). Fire regimes should be conducted in a manner that does not create suitable habitat for predators (foxes & feral cats) or any other introduced species e.g. rabbits.
Current regimes at the study site are aimed are reducing the sites susceptibility to large wildfires with fuel reduction burning. Equilibrium needs to be reached between the frequent and necessary fuel reduction burns and the preservation of preferred groundcover and understorey for Spotted-tailed Quolls.

There is 1 high priority and 1 low priority State Priority Action Statements that apply to fire management (Appendix 1). Fire management is managed in Part 7; Section 4.4 and Appendix 4 of the Southern Richmond Range Group Draft Plan of Management.


Modelling of Spotted-tailed Quoll habitat shows a decreasing trend due to climate change. To combat climate change it is recommended that the protection of existing and the acquisition of suitable habitat is needed to ensure long term protection of the species (Long & Nelson, 2004). Mapping and tracking populations of Spotted-tailed Quolls could yield data on how to better manage the species in the face of climate change.
There are no State Priority Action Statements dealing with climate change. Climate change is not dealt with in the Southern Richmond Range Group Draft Plan of Management either.
This suggests re-evaluation of the Plan of Management to incorporate climate change into management practices.


While being a site of major cultural significance for the Indigenous communities of the area, the southern Richmond Ranges also hold importance to other interrelated group users. These stakeholders include:

• Aboriginals people of other tribal regions/states/countries

• People of non indigenous background, yet who still identify a cultural affinity with this area

• General public (people who wouldn’t typically use the area but would feel disenfranchised if they discovered “their” public space was being removed from them)

• Landholders/farmers etc


• Scientists/Researchers/Academics/Universities (ecologists, geologists etc)

• Recreational user (campers, bmx/4wd users etc) – limited in this instance as most sections of the southern Richmond ranges are restricted access for 4wd/bmx etc se

• Forestry NSW

• “amateur” conservation groups/naturists

• others

In regards to the “others” category, it is recommended that research into user groups (both public and private) not listed be carried out to ensure sufficient representation is made to all site users. Engagement of communities in important works regarding the southern Richmond ranges and Quoll management could be ideal to qualify in “meetings the needs” of all
community groups (both those listed above and those not yet acknowledged).


There are reports from local residents of Spotted-tailed Quolls raiding rural properties (L.Feltus, 2012, pers. com.). A multi pronged approach would be best to help dispel the negative perceptions of Spotted-tailed Quolls involving public education and community feedback. Public education is most successful when used in a co-operative approach i.e.
making information available to the public and receiving information from the public, which can create stewardship and pride within the community (Thom, 1996). Public education is crucial to dispelling the misconceptions about the species (Long & Nelson, 2004).

Information can be distribution through a variety of media including; Newspapers, media releases, school kits, interactive talks with community groups, community meetings, school visits and pamphlets. The type of information given out depends on the target audience.
For the general community it should include;

• General information on biology, ecology, role in ecosystem.

• Conservation status, habitat requirements.

• Outline the importance of native forests and connectivity.

• Information detailing where to report sightings.

For rural land holders the information should be centred on;

• Susceptibility to baits,

o 1080 baits can be lethal to Spotted-tailed Quolls in certain situations.

o Make sure baits are buried at least 10 cm (15 cm preferred).

o Notify NPWS when commencing baiting.

o Ensure compliance with 1080 Pesticide Control Order.

• Address ways of decreasing stock losses,

o Complete enclosure of poultry sheds with wire mesh roofing and concrete floors.

o Secure wire around perimeter pen to stop digging under / ripping up.

o Ensure trees are not close to enclosure as a means of entrance / escape.

o Allow free ranging during the day but secure poultry at night.

• Protecting food stores,

o Complete enclosure with wire mesh roofing and concrete floors.

o Keeping sheds and storage areas shut at night.

• Control of domestic animals at night,

o Provide information with a cooling off period after which warnings are issued and followed up with fines.

• Good stock management practices ,

o Keeping birthing paddocks clean.

o Having well maintained fences.

Community members can contribute in a variety of ways. Individuals can contribute through a community mapping program where Spotted-tail Quoll sightings can be entered on a map online, such as the Bionet wildlife atlas. In addition, a hotline and email should be set up to record these sightings. This management strategy is listed as a medium priority State Priority Action Statement.

Funding and donations should be sought when ever possible by rural land holders to offset the costs of securing property and livestock. Catchment Management Authorities and other government agencies have funding programs which land holders can apply for. Community groups such as Landcare can also apply for funding on behalf of land holders and even carry out works on private properties. Donations of time and products can be sought out as well.

For example the Men’s Shed community group makes all the Indian Myna (Acridotheres tristis) traps used by Lismore City Council in their trapping program (Lismore City Council, 2012, Similar groups exist in most communities and are avenues worth exploring.

Good relationships with land holders surrounding the study site are essential for good management. Management actions can only be achievement when all stakeholders are working towards common goals. National Parks rangers from Girraween National Park in Queensland foster good relations with land holders through informal yearly bar barques
(J.Cowburn, 2012, One party supplies the meat and the other brings a supplementary plate of food to share. This allows communication on a much less formal basis and lays the groundwork for strong working relationships. A similar approach is used by rangers at the Armidale National Parks Office (G.Cranfield, 2012, The head
ranger and dedicated Community Liaison Officer organise with land holders to make regular in person visits. Face to face, casual communication aids in fostering good working relationships. Approaches such as these two examples and other similar ones are worth exploring to help ease tension, build trust and repour with local land holders.
There are 2 State Priority Action Statements involving raising community awareness and promoting community involvement; 1 medium and 1 low priority (Appendix 1). The Southern Richmond Range Group Draft Plan of Management does not have a dedicated community engagement management action.


The poison compound 1080 (Sodium fluoroacetate) is used throughout Australia for controlling introduced species. Spotted-tailed Quolls are attracted to and susceptible to poison baits. As a result, they are victims known to be accidental poisoned. However baiting is essential for controlling foxes, wild dogs and feral cats (Glen & Dickman, 2008). Spottedtailed Quolls have demonstrated some tolerance through behavioural or physiological traits (Jones et al., 2003; Long & Nelson, 2004; Burnett & Holmes, 2008).

The Southern Richmond Range Group Draft Plan of Management does not mention any current baiting programs; however reports from the local ranger indicate that aerial bating as since commenced (L.Feltus, 2012, pers. com.). The extent, bait type and techniques used are unknown. A formal review of this regime and management document should be drafted.
Until such time a precautionary approach is the best course of action. Different methods need to be given careful consideration before being implemented. The following baiting guidelines are recommended.


Spotted-tailed Quolls have shown a preference for moist baits. Using dry baits decreases the likelihood of baits being taken. In addition, Spotted-tailed Quolls will need to ingest two baits for them to be fatal as they contain only 3mg of 1080 (Jones et al., 2003; Morris et al., 2003; Körtner & Watson, 2005).


Spotted-tailed Quolls are shown to avoid baits buried at depths greater than 15cm (Jones et al., 2003; Körtner & Watson, 2005; Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, 2008). This includes baits at baiting stations and hand placed baits. Aerial baiting is not preferred as baits are not buried. However there are several limitations with this management action that are not practically feasible, such as terrain, funding, time and man power. However, burying baits has the advantage of protecting other non-targeted species in addition to Spotted-tailed Quolls (Körtner et al., 2003).


Baiting should not be carried out or should be restricted as to not coincide with breeding season or juvenile dispersal periods (Thom, 1996). This action is mandatory under the 1080 Pesticide Control Order.


Staff should undertake training to recognise the signs of 1080 poisoning in wildlife to assess frequency of mortality (Thom, 1996). Poisoned animals are to be removed to reduce secondary poisoning. This action is mandatory under the 1080 Pesticide Control Order.


A monitoring program should be established to record any Spotted-tailed Quoll deaths implicated in any baiting regime. This will provide necessary data to modify management actions if required.

There are 3 State Priority Action Statements dealing with baiting impacts on Spotted-tailed Quolls; 2 high priorities and 1 medium priority


The study site is only fragmented by one road in one section at the northern end. However the road is a considered major route resulting in area of high risk. A second minor road runs along the western boundary resulting in area of low risk. Short term solutions involve placing signage around the affected areas to increase driver awareness. Signage on its own has been shown to be ineffective in reducing the number of road kills and reducing speeds. Signage needs to be use in conjunction with education and other measures (Jones, 2000). Additional short term strategies include using pipes and ramps to provide escape routes off roads and underpasses or over road structures (Jones, 2000). Cost benefit analysis should be conducted to determine the most efficient solution.

Spotted-tailed Quolls are known to use roads for scavenging (Jones, 2000; Jones et al., 2003; Long & Nelson, 2004). Physically removing carcases can reduce the motivation for Spottedtailed Quolls and other species to venture onto roads, therefore reducing the potential risk of road mortality (Long & Nelson, 2004).

Other major strategies include reducing traffic speed (through slow points or speed limits), reducing traffic volume and planning new roads around wildlife areas (Thom, 1996).

However these strategies require management at a state level. Data collected from management actions (number of road kills, sightings, evidence of road crossings etc…) can be used in decision making for future roads or adjustments of existing infrastructure e.g. identification of hot spots (Long & Nelson, 2004).

There are 3 medium priority State Priority Action Statements dealing with road mortality (Appendix 1). Road mortality is addressed under Part 7; Section 6.4 Management Operations of the Southern Richmond Range Group Draft Plan of Management.


Implementation of this plan would defend on available funding, staff availability and political and community pressures. Threats to this species are increasing, impacting on its threatened state. It is critical that action bet taken sooner rather than later.


On going reporting is vital for success. It is considered vital that appropriate records be kept such as outlined throughout this draft.


It is recommended that this draft be reviewed within five years. This will allow for opportunity to review and adoption of new or emerging research.


Marsupial carnivores are in decline across their range. The Spotted-tailed Quoll exemplifies this trait. The extinction of the thylacine, the largest member of this family highlights the need for timely and targeted conservation efforts.
Time constraints resulted in a lack of development for Part 5. Nevertheless, the basis of this draft should be sufficient to being implementing the strategies outlined throughout this document.


Table 3: These Thirty five Priority Action Statements have been adopted by the Department of Environment and Heritage (NSW) under the Threatened Species Conservat ion Act 1995 and are considered vital for recovery efforts of the Spotted-tai led Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus maculatus).

Establish and maintain regional working groups in southeast and northeast NSW to coordinate research and management. Priority Low

Collect genetic samples from all Spotted-tailed Quoll populations during field surveys and regular monitoring activities. Priority Low

Liaise with key aboriginal groups and document understanding of Spotted-tailed Quoll's local distribution, abundance, ecology and threats. Priority Low

Develop a communication strategy to raise public awareness of the Spotted-tailed Quoll, compile education resources and distribute to identified target audience. Support community participation in survey and monitoring programs. Priority Low

Consult with Aboriginal land managers regarding intended conservation management efforts for Spotted-tailed Quolls on lands of interest to them. Priority Low

Prepare brochure detailing designs of 'quoll-proof' poultry runs and aviaries and distribute within relevant locations. Priority Low

Seek funding or sponsorship to subsidise landholder costs of modifying poultry runs and aviaries. Priority Low

Research disturbance thresholds and adequacy of existing prescriptions for retention of habitat of breeding females in timber production forests. Priority Medium

Investigate the demographics of Spotted-tailed Quoll populations and use results to develop viability models for quoll populations. Priority Medium

Investigate the impact of fox and wild dog baiting on Spotted-tailed Quoll populations. Priority Medium

Assess potential risk Cane Toads pose to populations of quolls. Priority Medium

Monitor survival of Spotted-tailed Quoll populations in habitat newly colonised by cane toads.Priority Medium

The threat of cane toads to be assessed as part of the DEC Cane Toad Action Plan. Priority Medium

Seminar on quoll biology and conservation. Priority Medium

Review survey methods and assess effectiveness of different techniques to identify an optimal survey protocol. Undertake research into new methods, if necessary. Priority Medium

Conduct field and community surveys for the Spotted-tailed Quoll in areas where its distribution is poorly known. Areas identified for large-scale urban development (i.e. Far north coast, Hunter) and coastal reserves should be the highest priority. Priority Medium

Map Spotted-tailed Quoll distribution and update as additional data becomes available. Priority Medium

Identify study sites across the NSW range and within different habitat types at which long-term population monitoring can be undertaken. Priority Medium

Develop standard data collection protocol to maximise information obtained from field surveys. Include procedure for monitoring disease status of wild animals and collecting and storing genetic samples. Priority Medium

Conduct and publish ecological research on relationship between prey density, den availability and density of females in different habitat types to determine measures of habitat quality. Priority Medium

Develop a licence agreement with managers of captive Spotted-tailed Quoll populations to enable recruitment to captive populations from wild populations. Priority Medium

Develop agreement with captive management institutions to facilitate use of captive animals for research when required. Priority Medium

Erect signs in areas where road kills are common to alert drivers to the presence of Spotted-tailed Quolls. Priority Medium

Identify sections of roads where Spotted-tailed Quolls are frequently killed on roads. Conduct a media campaign to ask for public records of road kills and use data held by the relevant government agencies. Priority Medium

At sections of roads where Spotted-tailed Quolls are frequently killed, incorporate methods to reduce the numbers of animals killed. Assess the effectiveness of different mitigation methods. Priority Medium

Develop environmental impact assessment guidelines for the Spotted-tailed Quoll, which includes information on adequate survey methods, survey effort, inappropriate development proposals, impact mitigation measures. Medium
Research and publish findings to determine impact of wildfires and prescription burns on populations, with emphasis on prey resources, refugia, impacts of foxes, cats and wild dogs/dingoes. Priority Medium

Renegotiate habitat retention prescriptions in IFOAs if they are found to be inadequate following research into disturbance thresholds and habitat requirements of breeding females. Priority High

Research to investigate interactions between native and exotic predators and their prey to better understand the consequences of 1080 baiting at an ecosystem level.Priority High

Based on research, develop and implement a protocol for use of poison baits that further reduces impacts on individual Spotted-tailed Quolls.Priority High

Conduct systematic monitoring at key sites. Monitoring sites will be distributed across the NSW range of the Spotted-tailed Quoll and within different habitat types such as Kosciusko NP, Limeburner's Creek NR, northern tablelands and the Blue Mountains. Priority High

Develop a database and update it regularly to track population trends at monitoring sites, particularly with respect to density and survival of breeding females. Priority High

Habitat requirements of Spotted-tailed Quolls to be adequately conserved within environmental planning instruments and through other legislative protection mechanisms, including property vegetation plans. Priority High

Reserve Fire management Strategy(s) include operational guidelines that protect rocky outcrops and riparian zones within areas of known habitat.Priority High

If rediscovered in NSW, undertake an immediate assessment of the status of the population, identify any threats and determine the appropriate recovery actions. Priority High


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