Quenda Protection and Research

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(Image credit: Narelle Dybing)

About quenda (southern brown bandicoot)

The quenda, or southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus subsp. fusciventer), is a small marsupial often encountered in and around urban areas near bushland in Perth, and the south-west of Western Australia.

The quenda is protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.

Like many of Australia’s digging mammals, the quenda is considered an ecosystem engineer — their digging activities alter their physical surroundings, changing resource availability for other plants and animals.

The ‘ecosystem services’ provided by quenda are likely to be crucial to maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Quenda Search Project

Shire of Mundaring Libraries partnered in the Quenda Search Community Project conducted in 2000. The aim of the project was to find out where quenda live in the Shire of Mundaring.

The Quenda Search Team collated the information our wonderful community provided around quenda sightings in the Shire of Mundaring.

A big thanks to all who took part. It is clear that people in the Shire of Mundaring care a lot about their quenda! This project has brought some interesting observations to light, worthwhile of more investigation.

Summary of findings

Reports of quenda sightings between April - June 2020

We received more than 300 reports of quenda sightings, some of which were repeat sightings from the same residents.

There were 216 independent reports of quenda sightings within the Shire of Mundaring; that is, after excluding repeat reports from the same location. This was a fantastic response!

  • We received reports of quenda sightings from all regions of the Shire of Mundaring, except Midvale-Bellevue.
  • The average number of independent reports per region was 22, and ranged from no reports from Midvale-Bellevue to 48 reports from Darlington.
  • Regions with a below-average number of reports included the Outer Eastern Regions, Swan View, Greenmount, and Boya-Helena Valley.
  • Regions for which the number of reports was above average included Mount Helena, Glen Forrest, Hovea-Stoneville-Parkerville, Mundaring-Mahogany Creek and Darlington.
  • A high number of reports may have occurred in certain regions simply because some regions have more residents. When we adjusted for the number of residents in each region, the broad patterns remained the same (data not shown).
  • Darlington stands out as a hotspot for reports of quenda sightings.
  • Midvale-Bellevue has the lowest human population size of any region, which may go some way to explaining why we received no reports from this area. There is also a lot of industrial area here, so there may be less quenda as there is less suitable habitat. If you’ve seen a quenda in Midvale-Bellevue, please let us know!
  • We were surprised not to get more reports from the Outer Eastern region, where there are a lot of residents spread over a large area. We expected there to be good number of quenda in these areas due to the remnant bushland and large properties, but received just 6 reports from this region.
  • The number of reports received from each region does not necessarily reflect differences in the quenda population size in each region.
  • Regions from which we received high numbers of reports may have larger numbers of quenda, quenda may be more active or visible in these regions for a variety of reasons, or residents in these regions may simply have been more likely to take part in this project and to encourage others in their community to take part.

What time of day quenda were sighted

  • We received 116 reports of specific quenda sightings that included a date and time of day. These reports make it clear that in the Shire of Mundaring, at least in proximity to people’s homes (where most reports came from), quenda are out and about during the day, and are certainly not nocturnal.
  • However, we expect that these sighting times say more about when people are out and active, rather than when quenda are out and active! The “peaks” occur around 8am and 5pm, around the time that many people are leaving to go to school or work, or coming home.
  • It is unlikely that quenda were not out and about between midnight and dawn, even though no sightings were reported during this time; the humans were probably just tucked up in bed, and not out looking at quenda! Many people who reported sightings during this project commented that their lawn or garden was often full of holes in the morning, indicating that quenda had indeed been busy during the night.

Possible threats to quenda

  • We did not ask people to report cases of quenda mortality (death), but received 23 reports of quenda mortality from 9 different suburbs.
  • The highest numbers of reports of mortality came from Glen Forrest, Mount Helena, Mundaring, and Swan View.
  • The most commonly reported causes of mortality were vehicle strike (being killed on the road), and drowning in swimming pools. Other suspected causes of mortality included foxes, cats, poison, and old age.
    • Vehicle strikes: 7
    • Pool drowning: 6
    • Cause unknow: 4
    • Cat: 2
    • Fox: 2
    • Old age: 1
    • Poison: 1

Can you feed quenda?

We asked Dr Alison Hillman, a vet with an interest in urban fauna.

Dr Hillman says rather than feeding quenda, it is recommended that people provide a safe habitat where quenda can find their own natural food.

If you do choose to offer food to quenda, follow these tips to minimise the risk of causing harm.

Food that is harmful to quenda

Don't offer foods that are harmful to quenda, including:

  • Raw meat and cooked bones
  • Bread, cakes, crackers and other processed human food
  • Garlic, onions and macadamia nuts - all of which are poisonous to other animals.

Offer healthier options

Quenda are only small, and they might be receiving food at multiple houses!

Try one of these options:

  • No more than 2 mealworms per quenda per day
  • No more than 2 dog/cat kibbles per quenda per day
  • No more than a 1cm x 1cm cube of fruit or veg per quenda per day

Be mindful of portion control.

Offer food less often

Try every second or third day, rather than daily

Avoid creating a dangerous situation for quenda

Predators can learn where and when quenda are feeding.

Offer food in different locations at different times of the day. 

Place food close to dense vegetation so quenda can escape if they need to.

Learn more about quenda

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) has fauna notes and guidance on living with quenda.

DBCA: Living with Wildlife

Activities and stories for children

What to do if you find an injured quenda

Contact Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.