Surprise find after 'massive rat' thought to be attacking chickens

The curious intruder outright refused to leave the comfort of the chicken coop.

A Melbourne woman put in a call for help after an intruder entered her chicken coop. Not only had one of her chickens been killed, she also reported seeing a “giant rat” hiding inside the cage.

Curious rescue volunteers attended the Wonga Park property in the city’s outer east, but what they discovered inside was not a rodent at all. The creature hiding inside was probably the last thing they expected.

Dr Elaine Ong the founder of Vets for Compassion took a call from the rescuers who told her, “Oh my gosh, it’s a tiger quoll”. What was curious about the find is that quolls don’t live in Wonga Park. The closest known habitat is 22km away in the Dandenong Ranges.

The backyard chicken coop where the quoll was found
The homeowner originally thought there was a giant rat inside her chicken coop. Source: Supplied

Why was a quoll hiding out in Melbourne's suburbs?

Speaking with Yahoo News Australia, Dr Ong said the 4kg animal simply refused to budge, leading her team to believe it was an escaped zoo animal, or possibly even an illegally-kept pet.

A wildlife vet and zookeeper who are used to handling quolls drove to the property to help and attempted to coax him out of his hiding spot inside the coop with a cobweb broom. This didn’t go according to plan.

“He actually enjoyed it, and he nearly fell asleep,” Dr Ong said.

Rescuers then gently prodded him with the other end of the broom. “But he refused to budge, it probably felt good as well,” she said. You can see video of him enjoying his broom scratch below.

Unsure what to do next, the team decided to place a cat carrier cage at the entrance to the coop and the quoll happily walked inside. This reaffirmed suspicions he had escaped from captivity.

How much do you know about tiger quolls?

  • Carnivorous quolls are closely related to Tasmanian devils.

  • Tiger quolls are the largest species and can weigh more than 8kg.

  • Populations across Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria are listed as endangered.

  • Those in Tasmania are vulnerable to extinction.

A tiger quoll can be seen in both pictures poking its face out from the chicken coop. Source: Supplied
Rescuers were surprised to find a tiger quoll hiding inside a chicken coop. Source: Supplied

What happened to the quoll?

The animal was taken to Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria’s east which has a small population of quolls in its care.

Vets found him to be underweight, at four kilograms, and it is likely he was struggling to find food in the wild. Two weeks on, he’s being fed up by staff, but what happens to him next remains unclear.

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