Have you seen a chuditch in the Bateman area?
The Department of Parks and Wildlife is seeking public assistance following the discovery of a dead chuditch, or western quoll, on a footpath outside Bateman Primary School in the City of Melville, Western Australia.
Chuditch are carnivorous marsupials found in the Perth Hills and the south-west, including the Swan Coastal Plain, but populations are not known to live in built-up parts of the metropolitan area.
Parks and Wildlife’s animal science program leader Keith Morris said the dead chuditch was reported to the department on Thursday 9 June by a keen-eyed member of the public, Frances D’Souza, who recognised it as an uncommon native species.
“This kind of discovery is exciting for us because it raises questions about how the animal came to be in suburban Perth,” Mr Morris said.
“We know that chuditch can move long distances, so maybe it travelled from the hills along the Canning River using reserves as corridors. That may be 20km or more.
“For it to have avoided predators such as cats and dogs, along with vehicles, for that distance would be remarkable.
“Another possibility is that someone who had been keeping the chuditch, released it.
“The other option is that the species is still naturally occurring in the area, however, this is unlikely because there are no remnant bushland areas large enough to support a chuditch population. Chuditch probably occurred in the area until the 1950s when the Bateman area was still bushland and rural lots.”
Mr Morris said the chuditch, a two-year-old male, was buried in nearby bushland by the Bateman Primary School gardener before it was retrieved by Parks and Wildlife the following day. It will be taken to the Western Australian Museum to be added to the State’s fauna collection.
“The animal was in very good condition and showed no signs of being predated, although it had a break in a rear leg, indicating it may have died after being hit by a vehicle,” he said.
Anyone with information about chuditch sightings in the Bateman area, or in wider metropolitan Perth, please contact Keith Morris at Parks and Wildlife on 0400 746645, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The western quoll is Australia’s largest endemic carnivore. One of the many marsupial mammals native to Australia, it is also known as the chuditch in Western Australia (from Noongar djooditj). Other common names include atyelpe or chilpa (from Arrernte), kuninka (from Western Desert language); idnya (Adnyamathanha people of the Flinders Ranges) and the archaic western native cat. The species is currently classed as near-threatened.
The western quoll is about the size of a domestic cat. It is coloured a rufous brown and has 40–70 white spots on its back with a creamy white underside. Its spots actually help diminish its outline from the moon at night when hunting. It has five toes on its hind feet and granular pads. The head and body are about 36 cm to 46 cm in length, and the tail is around 22 cm to 30 cm. With large eyes and pointed ears, it is well adapted for nocturnal life. The black brush on its tail extends from half-way down to the tip. Males typically weigh around 1.3 kg, and females 0.9 kg. The longest they are likely to live is four years.