Meet The Tiniest Polka-Dotted Animal In The World

Let's just cut to the chase here: This is a baby quoll.

You want one. Obviously. Who doesn't? But when it comes to this marvel of the marsupial kingdom, there are too many reasons why you will likely only ever be able to swoon from afar.

For one thing, they're unlikely to turn up in your backyard. Think Australia and Tasmania, where quolls come in six varieties.

For another thing, they spend most of their days in their dens, only rising in the evening to splurge on their favorite food: bugs, rabbits and bandicoots. (Remember, we're talking Australia.)

There just aren't that many around any more. They're classified as endangered in Australia and in neighboring Tasmania, vulnerable.

Quolls peppered most of the region in the 18th century, according to Australia's Department of the Environment. There were so many, in fact, the great seafarer Captain James Cook cultivated a passion for them.

But then, someone let the cats out. Literally. Domestic cats became feral. And, since they're about the same size as quolls and enjoy a roughly similar taste for wild Australian cuisine, cats quickly became their most cutthroat competitor.

(That's not to minimize the impact land-clearing and road deaths have had on quolls' habitat.)

Here's what Tasmania's Parks and Wildlife Service has to say on the subject:

"Feral cats are one of the most efficient hunters and can be devastating to wild populations of mammals and birds. Their retractable claws allow them to climb swiftly - even upside-down. Because of this they are unlike any other predator in Tasmania and can take tree dwelling animals, birds and eggs with relative ease. This, together with their size and stealth, makes them well suited to taking prey that quolls eat."

In a nutshell? Cats are very, very good at life.

We love cats. But keeping them unspayed and outdoors for a century or two will have consequences.

Learn more about the fascinating, and increasingly scarce quoll here.