To balance out the horrors of 2020, we thought we’d introduce you to the Quokka. Some of you may have heard about these little marsupials, but for those of you who haven't, they're painfully cute! Their fame is tied to the fact that they take incredible selfies. Just look at the picture below. No, it’s not posing, that’s just its face. But its happy-go-lucky expression isn't the only cool fact about this little critter.
Quokkas can be found waddling around Rottnest Island, Australia, about 11 miles off the coast of Perth - with a few populations still living on the mainland. (Side note: About 6,500 years ago, during the last Ice Age, people could walk to Rottnest Island when the sea level was low!) Back to the grinning rats...
Quokkas are marsupials, which mean they carry semi-developed babies inside a sticky pouch. But this particular species keeps several ‘back-up’ babies in a suspended state of development, just in case the first one doesn't make it out of the pouch alive. #resourceful. Sadly, the young can sometimes fall out of the pouch if the mother gets scared and flees dangers. There are debates about whether they throw or drop their babies when faced with a predator, which sounds harsh, but it's better that the mother survive than both becoming lunch. It’s precisely this reaction that makes conservation teams wary about tourists taking selfies with them. If a quokka gets spooked, it might drop its babies and skedaddle. Their numbers are already dwindling - many have fallen prey to foxes and feral cats. And recent fires have destroyed large swathes of habitats, reducing their numbers even further. So the moral of this story is to think twice before grabbing that ‘essential’ insta snap... and check the ground for ‘back-up’ quokka babies.
Image by @cruzysuzy/Instagram