One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small, short-tailed wallaby with a short face, round ears on top of the head, and some tree-climbing ability, native to Western Australia.
Setonix brachyurus, family Macropodidae
- ‘The natural history of Australia was little recorded in early Dutch voyages of the seventeenth century, although there were observations of wallaby, quokka, and black swan.’
- ‘Its Dutch discoverer in the 17th century wrongly named it after finding it was infested with what he took for rats, but were actually quokkas, marsupials with a vague resemblance to beavers.’
- ‘They seemed to really enjoy it - Mum managed to throw up on a glass bottomed boat and Dad got bitten by a quokka so they'll have plenty of stories to tell people now they're back home.’
- ‘We stood outside to get windswept, missed the commentary and walked ashore to discover that Rottnest Island is overrun with quokkas - long tailed, short faced, round-eared marsupials that look disconcertingly like giant rats.’
- ‘These forms include the tree-kangaroos (genus Dendrolagus), which are excellent climbers; pademelons (genus Thylogale), which often walk with a quadrupedal gait; and the relatively short-tailed quokkas (genus Setonix).’
- ‘While the quokkas remained elusive, the students caught a small marsupial which they did not recognise.’
- ‘En route, watch out for the island's sweet but vaguely scary quokkas: half kangaroo, half rat, they're endemic here.’
Mid 19th century: from Nyungar kwaka.
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