The Island has six major habitats: coastal, salt lakes, brackish swamps, woodlands, heath and settled areas. Salt lakes occupy ten per cent of the area of Rottnest Island. Many of them - including Lake Baghdad, Lake Vincent, Herschel Lake, Garden Lake, Government House Lake and Serpentine Lake - are permanent and have surrounding beaches. Other lakes such as Pink Lake, Lake Sirius, Lake Negri and the twin Pearse Lakes may dry out in summer.
Rottnest Island quokka
Rottnest Island laughing quokka
The limestone coral reef surrounding Rottnest grew approximately 100,000 years ago when the sea level was thought to be at least three metres higher than the present day. This reef system is fed by the warm Leeuwin Current and provides a home to much of Rottnest's marine life, as well as presenting a significant hazard for shipping. Rottnest Island is an A-Class Reserve renowned for its high conservation and community values.
All plants and animals on Rottnest Island are protected by law. Wildlife should not be disturbed, rather observed from a reasonable distance.
The quokka is possibly the most well-known animal on Rottnest Island.
The name "quokka" comes from the name given to the animal by the Aboriginal people living in the Augusta and King George Sound area of the south-west of Western Australia. A marsupial the size of a hare or domestic cat, the quokka is the sole representative of the genus Setonix. As with other marsupials, such as the kangaroo, wallaby, wallaroo, bettong and potoroo, the females suckle their young in a pouch. They give birth in late summer, after a gestation period of twenty-seven days, and the young quokka remains in the pouch until August or September, and is then suckled for a further two months.
The quokka reaches maturity at about one-and-a-half to two years of age, and lives to be ten years old.
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