Who is the quokka?
The quokka or Setonix brachyurus is a mammal much appreciated for its appearance and its typical smiling facial expression, so much so that it has made it the protagonist of several publications on social media.
This small marsupial lives in Australia, resembles a small kangaroo but does not constitute a danger to humans, on the contrary it is a social animal that approaches without too much regard to human beings.
It is one of the cutest herbivorous animals: feeds on foliage, grasses and succulent plants. According to a study, their favorite food is Guichenotia ledifolia, a purple-white type of flower.
In addition to being sociable , however, he is equally greedy , he does not disdain the food that humans offer him, but rather seems to be greedy for bread (which is actually very harmful to him).
Habitat and distribution
The distribution range of this animal is very restricted: occupies the South Western tip of Australia and a few islands off the coast of the same area. Also in recent times the sightings are decreasing more and more.
The Australian government has put in place plans to protect the habitat of this animal which, due to the progress of agriculture, industry and deforestation, is seeing its natural habitat disappear.
What’s happening to these little guys?
Their population today is in a vulnerable condition according to the list of the UICN: their habitat is threatened by anthropogenic activities (such as expansive agriculture and increasing deforestation), from climate change increasingly relevant that have knock-on effects on the vegetation and finally also the presence of natural predators (like dingoes and foxes) plays its role.
In fact, despite being animals with a high fertility rate, in recent years they have found themselves having to face a set of factors that have significantly affected their normal reproductive cycle.
Let us remember that the human presence itself causes problems for these small animals: men approaching them to take photos and videos and manipulating them as if they were stuffed animals cause a great deal of stress to the quokkas, which consequently alter their normal habits.
We also remember that they are not able to digest and metabolize human foods well, but despite this being repeated, there is always the tourist who gives some bread or what he has in his backpack to the quokkas, but instead of doing them a favor. , often creates irreparable damage.
Fortunately , special rules have been introduced that prohibit visitors from feeding quokkas, punishing offenders with hefty penalties.
Unfortunately, once again man and anthropogenic activities end up complicating things for our dear free-living animals who remain defenseless in the face of climate change, deforestation, invasive tourism and all that follows.
So, after discovering the reality behind these animals with a perennial smile, do you think they are truly the “happiest animals in the world” ?