Rottnest Island Wildlife
Rottnest Island is known worldwide to be the home of the happiest animal on Earth – the quokka (Setonix brachyurus). Close relatives of wallabies, these tiny animals are found all over Rottnest Island, where their survival is largely attributed to the exclusion of any natural predators. The quokka is the only native mammal on Rottnest and apart from a small colony on the mainland, cannot be found elsewhere on Earth. In fact, these little marsupials are the mistaken namesake of the island, as Dutch explorers’ thought the quokkas were giant rats and proclaimed it as 't Eylandt 't Rottenest ("Rats' Nest Island").
While the quokka is one of the rare animals that seem to have no fear of humans and will often approach people closely, island visitors are asked not to touch or feed them. These little marsupials are adorable and very photogenic, however, in order to keep everyone happy and smiling please follow the #quokkaselfie instructions.
BirdLife International has identified Rottnest Island as an Important Bird Area (IBA) due to its significant breeding population of fairy terns (200-300 breeding pairs), in addition to the >1% non-breeding banded stilts (population of ~20,000), as well as substantial regional numbers of red-necked stints (Calidris ruficollis) and wedge-tailed shearwaters (Ardenna pacifica). Many coastal birds can be frequently found on the island, including several pairs of osprey (Pandion haliaetus) which nest at Rottnest Island each year. One of these nests, located at Salmon Point, has been estimated to be over 70 years old.
The Perth Canyon off Rottnest Island is one of the main habitats for blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) in Australia and from September-November each year you can witness the annual migration of Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). The island also plays host to a colony of New Zealand fur seals (Arctocephalus forsteri) in residence at Cathedral Rocks. Pods of dolphins are regularly seen frolicking in the waters near the island and with the extensive reefs surrounding Rottnest Island, many species of coral, crustaceans, and fish can be found – you might even see an Eagle Ray cruising by!
Protect Our Local Wildlife
Rottnest Island is an A-Class Reserve meaning that all flora and fauna inhabiting Rottnest Island are protected by law. In order for this unique and wonderful ecosystem to continue to survive and thrive, we ask you to please not disturb the wildlife and observe from a reasonable distance.