The quokka is a small mammal belonging to the macropodidae family, just like the kangaroo. It is however much smaller than the latter, measuring between 40 and 54 cm long without the tail, for a weight varying between 2.5 and 5 kg. Its tail measures between 25 and 30 cm and is devoid of hair.
This stocky animal moves with hind legs or walking on its four limbs displays a coarse coat, ears all round overhanging a short head and wide.
Quokkas live only in Australia, specifically on Rottnest Island and Bald Island. They live in large groups of more than 100 individuals, led by dominant males. They live in grassy and marshy areas. It is necessary to wait for the night to observe them because they spend their days sleeping and go out in group once the night fell, in search of their food.
It is thanks to the shape of his mouth, which gives the impression of a perpetual smile, that the quokka has won this title. The small marsupial does not fear any more the humans, that it approaches gladly, which only reinforces its quota sympathy. However, it is illegal to handle or feed him. Unfortunately, at present, quokka populations are considered vulnerable.
The ends of the mouth of the quokka naturally form a kind of smile. This feature earned him the title of happiest animal in the world.
Moreover, just like the man, the quokka has a trichromatic vision, which means that he perceives the colors of things as they are.
The quokka is herbivorous and feeds on plants, fruits, grasses, leaves and also roots that it digs up. He finds most of his food on the ground; he can also climb trees to find some. He has a high need for water that is essentially filled by his diet because he can spend long periods without drinking water. It also consumes small insects occasionally.
Quokkas can breed at around 18 months and females can give birth twice a year. Mating takes place in winter, from January to March, and the gestation lasts 28 days. At birth the baby weighs only 600 g. He then crawls alone to the marsupial pocket where he clings to a pacifier.
He will stay in this pocket until the age of 6 months but, although he comes out, he will be dependent on breast milk for up to 8 months. Moreover, it happens that it takes refuge there again until 10 months.
An animal threatened
The quokka is a pacifist: he is one of the rare animals not to conflict with his fellow creatures to feed or reproduce. But he is ready to do anything to survive: if the mother is threatened, she will throw her baby out of her pocket to distract the abuser and run away.
And he has many enemies: the arrival of invasive species such as foxes and cats have reduced its population on the continent. On Rottnest Island, human development, partly due to the arrival of tourists, has also affected its territory. Today, its population is decreasing.