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Home of the iconic quokka

Native to Wadjemup / Rottnest Island, the quokka, or kwoka in Noongar, is an icon of the island. 

Their story is literally written in the land. The name ‘Rottnest’ comes from 17th-century Dutch explorers who considered the animals to be large rats and bestowed the island, ‘Rat’s Nest’.

These curious and cheerful marsupials are recognised around the world, and it’s worth the journey across just to see them in their natural habitat. 

 
Keep the quokkas safe
As cute and cuddly as they may seem, it’s important to remember that they are wild animals. You are visiting their home, so rather than approach, simply observe them from a respectable distance.

Some facts about these curious critters

Native to the island

A type of small wallaby

Mainly nocturnal

They can climb trees

Quokka spotting for all seasons

On Wadjemup, you’re amongst the world’s largest quokka population with family groups found right across the island. 

The quokkas have plenty of natural resources and no natural predators, so you’ll never be short of opportunities to experience them regardless of the time of year. 

Nocturnal by nature, they spend most of the day sleeping and resting under shady bushes, but can easily be seen lazing around the island. Early mornings and late afternoons see most quokkas out and about, in various spots across the island.

During August, you can experience the childlike joy of seeing little joeys poking their heads out of their mothers’ pouches; come September, you can watch them take their first hops out into the world.

For an informative quokka experience with an educational focus, take one of the free guided quokka tours and see them up close while learning some interesting facts about this iconic animal.

For the best opportunity to experience a quokka in its natural environment, read our guide on quokka spotting in any season.

 

Quokka joey
Quokka joey

How to approach a Quokka

Quokkas in the settlement are friendly and trusting, and their natural curiosity will bring them closer to you if they feel safe. But, you should always remember that they are wild animals so always take care and maintain a reasonable distance of at least two metres.

If you move too quickly, you may startle them, so it’s best to wait nearby and let them come to you.

As cuddly as they may appear, you should never touch or feed a quokka and move back if they venture within two metres of you.

Preserving and protecting the world’s largest quokka population

Despite quokka populations continuing to thrive on the island, due to the abundant resources and lack of predators, they are still a vulnerable species. 

To ensure we protect the quokka from becoming endangered, continued monitoring from the island’s rangers helps keep the population thriving. 

You can do your part to help protect the island’s iconic marsupial by following some key guidelines:

  • Observe the quokkas from a safe distance
  • Don’t touch them
  • Let them forage for their own food instead of feeding them
  • Stick to the paths

Read more about how to play your part in quokka conservation

There’s more to this marsupial

Quokkas were first observed in 1658 by Dutchman, Volkersen. Later, Dutch explorer de Vlamingh named the island 'Rotte nest' (meaning 'rat's nest'), due to the quokka’s rat-like appearance. 

The name ‘quokka’ comes from the Noongar name ‘kwoka', given to the animal by the Aboriginal people in the Augusta and King George Sound area of south-west Western Australia where quokkas are also found.

Like other marsupials, such as kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos, bettongs, and potoroos, female quokkas carry their young in pouches. Quokkas give birth in late summer and their young remain in their pouches until August or September. After about one-and-a-half to two years of age, the quokka reaches maturity, reaching a size similar to a house cat and living to about ten years of age.