Scientists use genetics to help save marsupial from its diet of deadly cane toad flesh
Australia’s northern quoll, one of the world’s rarest carnivores, has developed a feeding habit that puts its very existence in peril. The squirrel-sized marsupial turns out to have a fondness for the poisonous flesh of invasive cane toads, introduced into Australia in the 1930s. And this appetite has wiped out vast numbers of the species across the country. As a result, the northern quoll is now considered to be nationally endangered.
But scientists have launched a remarkable project aimed at saving the little nocturnal hunters. They have pinpointed an isolated group of quolls that have evolved an aversion to cane toads and, instead of munching meals of their venomous flesh, give cane toads a wide berth and seek other prey.