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Albino northern quoll discovered in the Pilbara

The albino northern quoll discovered in the Pilbara. Photo- Dr Judy Dunlop
The albino northern quoll discovered in the Pilbara. Photo- Dr Judy Dunlop

An albino northern quoll has been discovered south of Port Hedland in the Pilbara.

It’s the first ever record of an albino northern quoll and was found by Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ (DBCA) Research Scientist Judy Dunlop.

“It’s a very exciting discovery,” Dr Dunlop said.

“Albinism is something we know occurs in all species, but this is the first time we’ve come across an albino quoll.”

The northern quoll is the smallest of the four Australian quoll species and related to the Tasmanian devil. They are about the same size as a meerkat and known for their reddish-brown fur with white spots.

“The albino quoll is really unusual looking with her white fur and intense red eyes. Her fur is also much softer than a regular quoll’s,” Dr Dunlop said.

The quoll was captured and released as part of a collaborative research project with Charles Sturt University, in conjunction with monitoring work on DBCA’s Pilbara Northern Quoll Research Program.

Dr Dunlop said the young female was found to be carrying eight joeys in her pouch.

“The joeys are too young to have hair and their eyes haven’t opened yet, so we don’t know if they have inherited their mother’s albinism,” Dr Dunlop said.

“Albino animals are susceptible to UV damage, but given northern quolls are nocturnal she doesn’t seem to have had much sun exposure and appears very healthy.”

Northern quolls are classed as endangered, with the strongest population in the Pilbara. In other locations, numbers have dramatically declined, and in some cases collapsed completely as a result of cane toads.

The Pilbara Northern Quoll Research Program is supported by BHP, Rio Tinto, Atlas Iron, Fortescue Metals Group, Roy Hill, Process Minerals International, Nifty and Main Roads Western Australia.

Last modified on Tuesday, 23 October 2018 13:32