When the Dutch explorer, Willem de Vlamingh first saw the Quokka he mistook it for a giant rat. Vlamingh named Rottnest Island meaning 'rat nest'. They inhabit the coarse grass and dense undergrowth of this island, which is just of the coast of Fremantle, you may also see them in swampy areas on the West Australian mainland.
Because there are no foxes on Rottnest Island they can live and breed without danger of extinction. The swamp-dwellers have dark coats blending in well with the shadows of their shelters. The quokkas on Rottnest, where the conditions are hotter, drier and sandier, are paler in colour.
It takes 4 weeks for the baby quokka to develop from a fertilized egg. When it is born it weighs less than a gram. They start climbing up from the birth canal to the mother's pouch where it will attach to one of the mother's four teats. The joey remains in the pouch for 6 months and during that time the head can be seen sticking out of the pouch. They grow to around 80cm long and weigh up to 4kg. Their feet grow no bigger than 4 inches long, they have small ears and a short tapering tail. Quokka is an Aboriginal name.
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