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13 May 2010 / Liz Johns

I Know What A Sausage Is, But What’s A Quoll?

“… and the sausages were then fed to the koalas.” At least that’s what I thought I heard on the radio tonight, but listening a bit closer I realised that they weren’t talking about koalas but about quolls. Even so, that didn’t really help me much because I didn’t know what quolls were, let alone why someone was feeding them sausages.

Quolls are cat-sized marsupials with a fox-like face. Native to Australia, they are noctural, carnivorous, and an endangered species.

One reason why quolls have become endangered in recent times is that they are partial to a tasty meal of cane toad. But when they try and take a bite, the cane toad protects itself by secreting a poison which kills the quolls.

So how do you get a quoll to stop eating cane toads? Simple solution: get them to eat cane toad sausages that have been injected with a chemical that induces nausea. The idea being that the quolls will then associate this unpleasant experience with the next cane toad they chance upon and go find something else less deadly to eat.

This reseach has been carried out by the University of Sydney’s Shine Lab and their results have shown that after eating cane toad sausages, one-in-four quolls will avoid eating an actual cane toad. It’s hoped that this aversion therapy can be applied to quolls in the wild to prevent them rising further up the endangered species list.

If you want to watch cane toad legs being put into a blender to make sausages (and I know that you do now that I’ve mentioned it), check out the ABC news video here.

Sausage roll anyone?

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