"The 'rats' of Rottnest" Rottnest Island Things to Do Tip by CatherineReichardt

Rottnest Island Things to Do: 134 reviews and 234 photos

  Quokka, Rottnest
by CatherineReichardt
 
 

As every website and tour guide will delight in telling you, the name 'Rottnest' is derived from the Dutch for 'rat's nest' - the name given to the island by the original Dutch explorers of the 17th century in honour of the small, strange mammals they encountered.

These were of course not rats, but quokkas - a Western Australian wallaby-like marsupial that is almost exclusively found on Rottnest (although apparently there are small populations on the mainland in the south west of the state).

Quokkas are about the size of a domestic cat, and the population on Rotto are fairly habituated to humans which makes them much easier to spot and encounter at close quarters than most of the other indigenous mammals you're likely to encounter in Australia.

This tolerance to humans has unfortunately not been to their advantage in the past, as in the past, yobs descending on the island - especially during the notorious 'schoolies' period- have gratuitously assaulted these gentle animals by playing 'quokka soccer'. As you might imagine, this vile practice is absolutely illegal and I personally would like to see offenders frogmarched to the jetty and then dumped off the ferry half way between Rotto and the mainland and left to swim the rest of the distance home, preferably with a Great White or two in hot pursuit!

Like any habituated animal, quokkas have learned the dangerous equation that 'humans = easy food'. However appealing it might seem to feed this unique creatures, this fosters an unhealthy dependence on humans and is also detrimental to their health, so please resist the temptation.

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 26, 2012
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