November 10, 2015 Mammals No Comments

(Dasyurus maculatus)

Spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) Photo: Scott Burnett

Spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus)
Photo: Scott Burnett

Also called … Tiger quoll, tiger cat, yarri (Herbert River District), burrumbil (Mulgrave River and Atherton Tablelands, north Queensland)


The spotted-tailed quoll is mainland Australia’s largest marsupial carnivore. It was one of the first Australian animals to be encountered by Europeans; Arthur Phillip’s party collected one at Port Jackson in 1788.

As a top predator, the spotted-tailed quoll probably plays an important role in regulating the populations of other animals that it eats.

There are three sub-species of spotted-tailed quoll:

  • Dasyurus maculatus gracilis from the wet tropics of north-eastern Queensland
  • D. m. maculatus from south-east Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria
  • an as-yet-unnamed subspecies from Tasmania.

The subspecies differ subtly from one another in body size, coat colour and patterning, and genetics.

Quoll Seekers Network

Through its dedicated Quoll Seekers Network, Wildlife Queensland has been using baited remote cameras to monitor quolls since 2007. Our survey data has been used to increase the quality and quantity of knowledge, and raise much-needed community awareness about quolls in Queensland.

You can help the Quoll Seekers Network by recording your sightings of the spotted-tailed quoll. Find out more.


  • Longer than 75cm nose to tail tip, therefore, larger by three or four times than any of the other five species of quoll.
  • Hindfoot length greater than 55mm),
  • The only quoll species in which spots continue from the body onto the tail.


  • Scats left within its habitat
    • on prominent rock outcrops, creek beds and escarpment lines.
    • have a distinctive musky smell (not the sharp unpleasant smell of fresh cat, dog or fox scats)
    • twisted ropey appearance
    • often deposited in communal latrine sites, where dozens of scats can accumulate during a season.
  • Repeated attacks upon caged poultry (often the first noticeable sign) in which
    • only the head or parts of the neck consumed on the first night.
    • quolls return to these carcasses day after day until all is consumed.
  • Tracks in soft ground
    Spotted-tailed quoll front footprint

    Spotted-tailed quoll rear footprint

    Spotted-tailed quoll scats – Distinctive twisted rope


The low-pitch hiss and screech on this recording are both quoll calls.


  • Forest and woodland including rainforest, and wet and dry sclerophyll forest and woodland.
  • Within these habitats, rocky escarpments or boulder piles are favoured.


Life history

Quolls live for less than 3-4 years. Females rarely breed after the age of 3 years. This probably explains their threatened status: populations die out if recruitment (i.e. new animals born or moving into the population) is low for as few as two or three successive years.

  • Quolls are solitary. However, both males and females mate with multiple partners during their brief autumn and winter breeding period.
  • Spotted-tailed quolls have a single litter of up to 6 young each year, born between May and August.
  • Each litter is sired by more than one father.
  • Young are carried in a rudimentary pouch and, when they become too large, they are left behind in a nursery den while the mother forages.
  • Young quolls become independent at about 100 days.
  • Opportunistic predators and scavengers of anything of animal origin
  • Hunt on the ground and in trees for rodents, bandicoots and possums – their main prey
  • Females and juveniles eat smaller prey than the larger males and include more reptiles and birds in their diet than males do
  • Prey or carrion can be too large to be eaten in one so quolls come back day after day until the meal is completely consumed (see Signs above).
Home range

Quolls are solitary with home ranges of up to 4000ha. Female home ranges are generally much smaller than this, though still several hundred hectares in size.

Dasyurus maculatus sightings

  • Tasmania and forested areas of South Australian-Victorian border to Cooktown in north Queensland.
  • Queensland distribution is patchy along the east coast; quoll hotspots in the Border Ranges, and the mountains and tablelands between Townsville and Cooktown.


(In order of how serious the threat is.)

  1. Land clearing and loss of habitat that comes from this
  2. Being killed at poultry yards and accidental road deaths
  3. Poisoned by eating cane toads and 1080 baits laid for wild dogs
  4. Predation and competition by dogs, cats (that eat quoll young) and foxes (minor threat contributing to an overall drop in populations)
  5. Predation by wedge-tailed eagles, dingoes, pythons, large forest owls and goannas



D. maculatus maculatus (Range: south-east Queensland, NSW, Victoria)

  • Queensland: Endangered (Nature Conservation Act 1992)
  • National: Endangered (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999)

D. maculatus gracilis (Range: north-east Queensland)

  • Queensland: Endangered (Nature Conservation Act 1992)
  • National: Endangered (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999)
Recovery plan

More information

Published papers
  • Belcher, C.A. (1995). Diet of the tiger quoll (Dasyurus maculatus). Wildlife Research 22(3): 341-357
  • Belcher, C.A. (1998). Susceptibility of the tiger quoll, Dasyurus maculatus, and the eastern quoll, D. viverrinus, to 1080-poisoned baits in control programmes for vertebrate pests in eastern Australia. Wildlife Research 25(1) 33-40
  • Belcher, C.A. and Darrant, J.P. (2004) Home range and spatial organization of the marsupial carnivore, Dasyurus maculatus maculatus (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae) in south-eastern Australia. Journal of Zoology 262:3, 271-280
  • Belcher, C.A. and Darrant, J.P. (2006) Habitat use by tiger quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae) in south-eastern Australia. Journal of Zoology 269:2, 183-190
  • Belcher, C.A. (2003). Demographics of tiger quoll (Dasyurus maculatus maculatus) populations in south-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology 51(6) 611-626
  • Claridge, A.W., Murray, A.J., Dawson, J., Poore, R., Mifsud, G.& Saxon, M.J. (2006). The propensity of spotted-tailed quolls (Dasyurus maculatus) to encounter and consume non-toxic meat baits in a simulated canid-control program. Wildlife Research 33(2) 85-91
  • Glen, A.S. & Dickman, C.R. (2006) Home range, denning behaviour and microhabitat use of the carnivorous marsupial Dasyurus maculatus in eastern Australia. Journal of Zoology 268:4, 347-354
  • Mansergh, I (1983). The status, distribution and abundance of Dasyurus maculatus (tiger quoll) in Australia, with particular reference to Victoria. Australian Zoologist. 21 (2): 109-122.
  • Firestone, K.B., Elphinstone, M.S., Sherwin, W.B., Houlden, B.A. (1999). Phylogeographical population structure of tiger quolls Dasyurus maculatus (Dasyuridae: Marsupialia), an endangered carnivorous marsupial. Molecular Ecology 8 (10): 1613-1625
  • Murray, A.J. & Poore, R. M. (2004). Potential impact of aerial baiting for wild dogs on a population of spotted-tailed quolls (Dasyurus maculatus). Wildlife Research 31(6) 639-644


Updated: 11 May 2021

Written by Wildlifeqld