The Great Quenda count is on again! Every year we ask citizen scientists to take part and help us and our partners WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions . Want to learn more? We've prepared this easy Quenda QandA.
First of all, what is a quenda?
Quendas are native mammals about the size of a rabbit with brown to yellow-brown fur, a long pointed nose, very short ears and a short tail. Occasionally mistaken for large rats, they’re really quite distinct if you look just a little bit closer – their large hindquarters and short tail are a good giveaway!
Until recently, quendas were thought to be a subspecies of the southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus), which is found across southern Australia. Recent genetic studies have found the quenda to be a species in its own right, and it is now known as Isoodon fusciventer.
Where do they live?
Quendas live in south-west Australia where they inhabit a range of forest, woodland, shrub, and heath communities. They prefer to live near waterways where dense low vegetation grows. Although their eastern cousins have all but disappeared from cities in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria, quendas are still living in and around Perth. They are often found in house gardens where established plants with dense cover occurs.
Why are we counting them?
WWF-Australia and the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions have been counting quendas since 2012. We want to know where quendas are currently living and compare this with previous surveys to work out if their distribution and populations are changing. This year, we are also seeking the public’s help with identifying a potential disease outbreak among the Quenda population, providing yet another important reason to join in the Spring Quenda Count!
We are particularly keen to get past participants to repeat a survey and new participants to start filling gaps where we haven’t had previous surveys conducted. It is particularly important to get replication of surveys over time as this is what helps boost our understanding of how the urban quenda population is responding to the threats they face. So far, the Spring Quenda Count has already provided valuable information about quenda and their population trajectories in the Greater Perth region as well as guide land managers on how best to conserve the remaining quenda population in the South West landscape.
If you have participated in the Spring Quenda Count in the past and still have access to the survey site, we would love you to take part in the 2020 survey.
What time of day and where is the best place to look?
Quenda can be active at any time of day or night, though they’re best seen at dawn or dusk. Let us know about the quendas in your garden, near your work or in your favourite bushland reserve. Your best chance of seeing quendas is in low, dense vegetation, particularly near water, although people are also finding them in log piles or even sheds.
If you don’t see a quenda you may still be able to identify their distinct, cone-shaped diggings. Quenda will occasionally dig in lawns and gardens beds in the search for beetles, grubs, spiders and fungi. Rabbits will also dig in lawns for tubers and roots, but their diggings are generally larger and blunter (square-ended) than those of a quenda and are usually surrounded by tell-tale small, round rabbit droppings.
How can I take part in the Spring Quenda Count?
There are just three simple steps to be a Quenda Counter:
Step 1) Choose your survey site - it may be your own garden, a local park or patch of bush.
Step 2) Count how many quendas you see each day for up to 7 consecutive days during spring.
Step 3) Fill out a data sheet and return it to email@example.com by 7 December 2020.
We just need to know where you did your survey, how much time you spent looking for quendas, and how many you saw. We’re also interested in any notes on family groups with young quendas or what the quendas are eating. And remember, a nil sighting is still important and we want to know about these!
How long do I have left to take part?
Surveys can be done any time during the spring months, from 1 September until 30 November. You can do several surveys if you like! Just remember to return your survey sheet by 7 December 2020.
If you spot a quenda after spring, report your sighting to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why should we care about Quendas?
It’s not easy to see native mammals in urban areas in WA, particularly in Perth. Kangaroos aside, quendas are one of our better chances of encountering furry natives. Once plentiful, quenda numbers have fallen significantly since the 1960s due to habitat loss, vehicle strikes and predators such as foxes, cats and dogs.
Quendas in WA also fall victim to drowning in swimming pools and garden ponds and poisoning from snail and rat baits.
The quenda is listed as a Priority 4 species in WA, which means their ongoing survival is dependent on conservation and their numbers need monitoring through programs such as the Spring Quenda Count. In fact, the Spring Quenda Count may even provide the data we need to demonstrate the species warrants listing as threatened, providing we get enough people joining in the Count!
What is the coolest fact you know about quendas?
Quenda mums have a backward-facing pouch (upside-down to a kangaroo’s). This allows them to dig without getting dirt all over their babies!