November 7 2016


Quokkas in their Natural Environment

The quokka is possibly the most well-known and cutest animal on Rottnest Island. The name ‘quokka’ comes from the name given by the Aboriginal people living in the south-west region of Western Australia. 

The quokka population used to be widespread across the mainland, however with predators such as cats and foxes, loss of habitat, and bushfires, the population has dramatically diminished. The quokka is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ under State and Federal legislation.  There are scattered populations living in the south-west region of Western Australia, ranging from 4 to 700 individuals. And Bald Island off the south coast has a population of 600-1000.

Due to the lack of predators and the availability of natural food on Rottnest Island, population numbers of quokkas have soared to between 8,000 and 12,000! Quokkas are marsupials and like kangaroos, spend most of the day sleeping and resting under shady bushes and dense vegetation. Early Dutch visitor Willem de Vlamingh, actually mistook the marsupials for large rats when he arrived on the Island in 1696. As a result, he named the Island ‘Rattennest’ (Dutch for rats nest), which was later translated to Rottnest.

The quokka’s diet consists of grass, leaves, seeds and roots. Eating ‘human food’ can be very detrimental to the quokkas health causing them to be dehydrated and malnourished. Despite how cute or eager they may seem, it’s important to refrain from feeding quokkas. They may become very ill as a result of eating unsuitable food such as bread, chips and meat.

The natural behaviour of quokkas is quite interesting. You can discover more about this iconic and mysterious animal and watch them in their natural habitat by taking the Quokka Walk Tour. This 45 minute guided walking tour departs daily from the meeting post at 2:15pm. For more information on the many free tours offered on the Island, please visit

Please remember that Rottnest Island is an A-Class Reserve renowned for its high conservation and community values. All plants and animals on Rottnest Island are protected by law. Wildlife shouldn’t be disturbed and we encourage you to observe from a reasonable distance. Please enjoy these natural wonders during your visit and appreciate the need to conserve this island paradise for future generations to enjoy!

- The Rottnest Island Team