Australia is home to a large variety of plants, birds, reptiles and iconic animals such as kangaroos, wombats, dingoes, wallabies and more. But not all can live up to the title of the world’s most loveable and happiest animal quite like Western Australia’s famous quokkas. These teddy bear sized furry critters are irresistibility cute and in recent years have received worldwide attention for their unforgettable faces. So, read on to discover all the facts you’ll ever need to know about the quokka (and have a smile while you’re at it)…
1. Known as the ‘world’s happiest animal’ for their smile
Quokkas are playful, adorable and known for being cute as a button, which has recently landed them the title of ‘world’s happiest animal.’ These small creatures are covered with short, fluffy brown-grey fur, have little round ears, small black noses and the most contagious and photoshoot-ready smiles.
2. Tricky name to pronounce
For some, quokka can be a difficult word to say. North Americans tend to pronounce these creatures’ names as “kwo-ka” but locals of Australia favour “kwah-ka.”
3. Quokkas were first discovered in the 1600s
These iconic animals were first discovered by Willem de Vlamingh in 1696 who mistakenly thought he spotted a giant rat. He went on to name the island “Rattennest” which means “Rat’s Nest” in Dutch after his sightings, which was later adapted to the common day, Rottnest Island.
4. Can only be found on Rottnest Island and Bald Island in Australia
Another fact about the quokka is they were once found exclusively on the mainland of Western Australia but only a small group of quokkas can be located here now. In present day, the majority of quokkas can be seen offshore on Rottnest Island near Perth or Bald Island, near Albany.
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5. Quokkas come from the same family as a kangaroo
Quokkas are a part of the kangaroo and wallaby family also known as the Macropodidae. Interestingly enough, these adorable furry friends share similar characteristics to kangaroos, including the fact that they like to hop around and carry their offspring in a front pouch. They are often referenced as the short-tailed wallabies too.
6. The best time to spot quokkas are early morning or early evening
Quokkas are nocturnal and spend their day sleeping and resting behind the protection of plants’ spikes. In the evenings, quokkas can be found out and about and are much more active.
Another interesting fact about the quokka is that these creatures love to climb small trees and shrubs in search of their next meal, and to rest. They are often found in tall grass near water and in small family groups.
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7. Quokkas are herbivores
Quokkas are herbivores and snack on a variety of leaves, stems, grass and bark. Their favourite food is a small shrub-like variety called the guichenotia ledifolia.
Here’s another fun fact about the quokka. They can go for long periods of time without any food or water as they store fat in their tails, just in case of an emergency.
8. Known for the famous #QuokkaSelfies
In recent years, #QuokkaSelfies have been a very popular trend on social media. Travellers, famous musicians, artists, actors, television personalities and more from all over the world have snapped an iconic selfie with the one and only quokka.
Well-known Canadian singer and songwriter, Shawn Mendes, even joined in on the social media fun and shared a few selfies during his recent visit to the land down under. Other popular celebrities to partake in the trendy quokka selfie included Chris Hemsworth, Demi Lovato, Hugh Jackman, Luck Rockhold, Pete Wentz, Lincoln Lewis, Margot Robbie, Roger Federer and more.
Is seeing a quokka in real life and taking a selfie on your bucket list? Travellers should not touch any quokkas during their encounters, keep a distance from these adorable creatures and not share any human food or drinks. Travellers who break this law could receive a hefty fine from local authorities or possible jail time.
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9. Classified as a vulnerable species
Although not a fun fact about the quokka, this is an important one. Quokkas have recently been added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature threated species list as there has been a decline in their population due to habitat loss from human developments. Other threats such as foxes, dogs, cats on the mainland and even human visitors have posed as a serious threat classifying these creatures as vulnerable. Quokkas are also currently protected by the World Wildlife Foundation.
Trafalgar, and its not-for-profit, The TreadRight Foundation, have implemented an Animal Welfare Policy to protect wildlife across all travel experiences around the globe. As part of TreadRight’s ‘Wildlife’ pillar, Trafalgar has adapted sustainable tourism initiatives and is focused on protecting and rehabilitating wildlife, as well as educating guests and travellers on ethical wildlife experiences.
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10. Around the size of a small cat
A quokka weighs roughly anywhere from 2.5 to 5 kilograms (which is equal to 5.5 to 11 pounds) and is believed to be 40 to 54 centimetres in length (or 16 to 21 inches). However, unlike furry feline friends, you unfortunately can’t keep quokkas as pets.
11. Known to live an average of 10 to 15 years
Studies have shown that the average life expectancy of the quokkas in the wild is 10 to 15 years.
12. Baby quokkas are called ‘joeys’
Like kangaroos, baby quokkas have also been given the name ‘joeys.’ Quokkas only have one baby at a time (they arrive around 27 days after mating), and when born, they ride around in their mother’s pouch – usually about six months before they venture off on their own.
Do you know of any additional fun facts about the quokka? Share your thoughts and comments below…