Wild quokkas are vulnerable on the endangered animal spectrum because they are only living on Rottnest Island in Perth and Bald Island further south of Western Australia.
Due to a Quokkas vulnerability, you may not touch quokkas when you are on the islands. While it is legal for the quokka to touch you, deliberately touching quokkas on Rottnest Island can incur a fine of $150 if you are caught.
While you cannot touch the wild, native inhabitants of the island, you can still visit wildlife parks or zoos that house quokkas for a close-up. The Featherdale Wildlife Park in Western Sydney offers a close encounter experience: you can sit with the quokkas and offer them food under supervision.
Can You Pick Up Quokkas?
Since you cannot touch a quokka, picking it up is even out of the question, even if it is close enough for you to do so. Quokkas are the smallest in the wallaby family, and their other name is the short-tailed scrub wallaby. As a member of the marsupial species, quokkas carry their young in pouches.
When a mother quokka is being threatened by a predator, it will eject the baby inside the pouch. This survival instinct happens when the mother quokka relaxes her pouch muscles as it hops away from the predator, and the baby will drop out and make noise, becoming an easy meal.
As quokka only has one, not more than two babies a year, every joey quokka is important in keeping the species going. Avoid scaring the mother and triggering an ejection, do not pick up quokkas. You can find quokkas in trees and shrubs around Rottnest Island.
As they are prey, they do not like open spaces where predators like dingoes and snakes. It is also why pets are not allowed on the island. They might scare the quokkas into hiding.
Can You Hug A Quokka?
There are a lot of cute photographs of quokkas with open arms as if it is looking for a hug. Even though it looks interested in hugging you, quokkas can bite and scratch when it feels threatened. Quokka carries diseases such as salmonella in their bites, and they will bite when you try to get closer.
Because places with human activity will have food, quokkas on Rottnest Island have worked out that buildings and campsites are an easy source of a good meal. Quokkas are herbivores, feeding on grasses and leaves. They are also nocturnal creatures that are most active during dawn and dusk.
So, even if they are willing to trade a hug for some human food, you cannot feed and hug a quokka. Quokkas are prone to lumpy jaw disease that affects their body, and it can be caused by food sticking to their gums. You should take care not to drop food or packaging that can be snatched up by a greedy quokka or other wildlife.
Can You Pet Wild Quokkas?
Quokkas have an infectious smile, which is why there are a lot of celebrities taking a photo with the cute marsupial. While most experts agree that quokkas have a natural smile like dolphins, it does not mean that they are happy for you to pet them.
Aside from their signature grin, quokkas are sociable, not only with humans. Their homes overlap and there are only occasional fights when males fight for shady spots. Because the island lacks water, quokkas are active at night and spend the day hiding in cool spots.
If you are caught touching or feeding quokkas on Rottnest Island, you will be slapped with a fine. And any acts of animal cruelty may result in a maximum of $50,000 in fines or 5 years of imprisonment. The Australian Government takes quokka care seriously and you will see a lot of reminders on the island.
What Happens If A Quokka Touches You?
If a quokka touches you while you are taking a photo with it, it is not flirting with you. Take the opportunity for the most memorable photo opportunity and run with it. While the Rottnest Island Rangers will not fine the quokka for touching you, they can still fine you if you attempt to touch it back.
While you cannot entice the quokka to touch you, you can, however, get down to their level for a good chance of an intimate photo. Quokkas are naturally curious and friendly. Your patience may be rewarded with a curious sniff or the quokka touching you to get some feedback.
Can You Take A Selfie With A Quokka?
Even without physical contact, you can still take a selfie with a quokka. All you need is patience; a selfie- stick is optional. To get a photo with the smiling critter, you first need to find one. Fortunately, quokkas are curious creatures that come out early morning or late afternoon: it is when they come out to eat.
Look for shrubs or areas of heavy vegetation, as quokkas usually hide from the heat and predators until it is safe to come out. Shy quokkas may observe you for a while before deciding it is safe to come out. The ones that are used to human appearance will appear first, probably in hopes of some food. Remember that you cannot feed wild quokkas.
Looking down at the quokkas, they will stretch their necks to look up towards you. It is then their smile is most obvious. But if you want a cute photo where the quokka is staring straight at you, then you get down to their level slowly. Sitting down while waiting for them to appear is a good idea, because then you are closer to the ground when they appear. Quokkas are about the size of a cat, and they will hop out from their hiding place.
Do not switch on the flash function, no matter how dark it is. Instead, you can experiment with shutter speeds and burst rates. If you are using a mobile phone camera, you can also edit later if the photo is too dark. Using flash will scare the animal, and it will run away.
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