cute quokka smiling

Quokka – How To Get The Perfect Quokka Selfie On Rottnest Island

Taking a perfect quokka selfie is on the bucket list of many people, especially the ones who are visiting Rottnest Island. Quokkas are known as the happiest animals in the world, and there is only one place you can see them: Australia. Quokkas are native to Rottnest Island and one of the very few places where you can see them.

Rottnest Island (and visiting its locals) belongs to one of the most unique places in Australia. This article will include all you need to know about quokkas, how to take cute quokka selfies, our photo tips, and interesting facts about quokkas.

quokka sitting in the green grass on Rottnest Island


Quokkas are known as the happiest animals in the world. Many people wonder why quokkas seem to be smiling a lot. My question was: WHAT IS THIS QUOKKA ACTUALLY SMILING ABOUT? Anyways, the truth is that quokkas don’t smile on purpose. The way how quokkas mouth is shaped gives us a false impression that they smile. Just like dogs, quokkas open their mouths to pant when it is hot and humid.

smiling quokka holding a leave
I can smile and eat at the same time


Once you arrive at Rottnest Island, you will find quokkas almost everywhere. Quokkas are friendly animals, very approachable, and they are used to people. They also search for food, so you will find them around eating areas, such as camping places or restaurants.



Everyone who is planning to visit Rottnest has the goal to take a great quokka selfie. And I am sure you have seen many cute selfies with quokkas. When you look at them, they look so cute, and it seems very easy to take a few shots. The truth is that it’s actually quite tricky, and I personally did struggle a lot. We put all the tricks and tips on how to take a perfect quokka selfie using either your phone or your camera, so keep reading.

adorable quokka looking at you whole I am trying to take a quokka selfie
I can’t help it, I am just that cute


  • choose a type of camera you want to take the photo with
  • find a quokka and approach it with ease
  • lay down on the ground
  • be patient
  • take as many photos as possible
  • have fun


At first, you need to choose what type of camera you will use. Most of the people use their mobile phones. First of all, it is very easy to use, and not many people own a DSLR camera.


When you are using your mobile phone’s front camera, make sure to look at the camera. However, as you know, a phone’s front camera usually doesn’t have the best quality. That’s why you can try to take a selfie with the better back camera of your phone. The only disadvantage is that you won’t see what you are taking pictures of, but you will be nicely surprised and have a higher photo quality.

I wouldn’t use the buttons on your sides to take the photo as this will add extra movement and you might end up with a blurry photo. That’s why try to take a photo with your index finger. If you want to get a perfect quokka selfie, take as many shots as possible. I am sure there will be at least one, which you will like. Also, consider using the burst mode.

A woman wearing a pink top is taking a selfie with quokka
What is that strange thing?

EXTRA TIP: When you take a selfie with your phone, try to use a wide lens. We use these handy iPhone lenses.

Quokkas are very curious animals and some of them will approach you to get to know you and your phone better.


If you want to have a great quality photo with a quokka, we do recommend to use a DSLR camera. We know that it is not as comfortable as with your phone, but the quality is much better (make sure to shoot in RAW) and your photo will be sharper and you have an option to print your photo in great quality too. It would also be helpful to use a wide-angle lens. But if you don’t have one, don’t worry, it is not necessary.

So how do I take a quokka selfie using my DSLR camera?

First, just to mention that taking selfies with animals is not an easy task. Animals move unexpectedly, and to get an awesome shot, and you need to be very patient. But there are a few tricks to know.

At first, don’t use autofocus, the problem is that the autofocus will be either on the quokka or on you, which is not great. That’s why you need to switch it to manual focus. Sometimes with manual focus, the camera struggles to find a focus. What you can do is to take the first photo using autofocus, so that the camera will learn the exact distance from your arm to the quokka. And then, once the camera has this information, switch to manual focus. Again, you won’t see what you are doing, but you will end up with great photos.

Of course, you can go for a GoPro camera as well; and this is solving all the issues you might have with an iPhone or a camera. The GoPro has a wide-angle, is small and will take great quality photos of quokka and you.


Once you see a quokka, you need to approach it slowly. It might happen that they will be scared and hop out. That’s fine; they are wild animals. Don’t chase the one which hoped out, look for a more curious one.

a portrait of cute fluffy animal walking on the green grass
Hi! Can I take a photo with you?


Because quokkas are still relatively small animals, you need to get to them as close as possible. Again, without touching them. The best way is to get on the ground and to lay down.

a woman laying on the ground and trying to take a quokka selfie
Don’t be shy

Most of the people kneel while they take a photo with a quokka. With kneeling, you will deplete the angle, and you will look like a giant. Also, you might scare the quokka. When you lay down on the ground, you will be at the same height as the quokka, and they will look more natural. And if you are lucky, the quokka will give you a kiss. 

girl kneeling on the ground in pink top taking a photo with quokka
Sweet kiss

This picture of quokka and me is super cute, but as you can see, I was on my knee. If I would have lied down, I would have gotten a genuine sweet kiss from a quokka, and I could have captured it much better. Well, I was wearing a white skirt, and I just didn’t want to have it covered in grass and poo.

Again, these are wild animals and sometimes you need to wait for quokkas to either approach you or to just get that great shot. So be patient and have fun.


There is a fine between AU$100 up to AU$1000 for mistreating quokkas, which was declared by Rottnest Island Authority. In severe cases, you might end up going to court, so if I were you, I wouldn’t be messing around.

  • DO NOT touch quokkas
  • DO NOT feed quokkas
  • AVOID chasing quokkas


You can also try to ask your friends to take a photo. That is, of course, a bit easier but again, the photographer might struggle with the focus. That’s why have your camera set on manual focus to have both quokka and your friend sharp. Or use an aperture (“A” setting on most cameras) of around f11.

woman sitting on the ground on Rottnest Island with quokka


Instagram is full of cute quokkas photos. Make sure to check some of the accounts which feature quokkas. It is incredible to see how many photos of quokkas exist on Instagram, so just a name few accounts: instaquokka, quokkahub or rottnestislandwa.

Are you curious about what photography gear we use? Read more: 16 photography must-haves we carry round.


  • Quokkas are known as the happiest animals in the world.
  • Quokkas can only be found in Australia.
  • They are in the same group as kangaroos, so they move and hope around just like them.
  • They can climb on small trees and bushes.
  • Quokkas are vegetarians and love to eat leaves and many types of plants.
  • Quokkas are nocturnal, and you will likely see them napping around, which is even cuter.
  • They live in groups and they are never alone, that means if you see one quokka, there must be more around.
  • Quokkas give birth to a baby called joeys. Quokkas (just like kangaroos) carry joeys in their pouches for 6 months.
  • Apart from Rottnest Island, you can find quokkas on Bald Island near Albany and sometimes on the mainland in Western Australia.
  • Their lifespan is not very long, and they live between 10 to 15 years.
cute fluffy animal holding a leave


Back in 1696 Captain de Vlamingh and his crew arrived from the Netherlands to discover the land of Australia. Once they came to Rottnest, they noticed these cute creatures and had no idea what they were. In Europe, there are no quokkas around, but they reminded them of giant rats. So they named the island “Rott nest” which means rat nest. The name stuck around till today as Rottnest.


There around 10.000 quokkas walking around freely without any predators chasing them. So if you won’t see any, it could be only due to one reason: they all left on an alien ship.


I know, they look very adorable and many wonder if you can take one in your bag. Unfortunately or fortunately, you are not allowed to have quokkas as your pets. In fact, they are wild animals. They are also protected animals by the Rottnest Island Authority Act of 1987. And if you can imagine, stealing them is illegal and you might actually end up in jail or paying hefty fines.


You can either take a ferry from Fremantle or from Perth. We highly recommend Rottnest Express as we had a great experience. With your ticket, you can easily book a bicycle as well which will be given to you upon your arrival in Rottnest.

We hope that you will have a great time on Rottnest Island and will see many quokkas. Good luck with taking quokka selfies, and we hope that you will get THE shot, you can share with the world. And say hi to quokkas.

Are you planning a visit to Rottnest Island? Make sure to pin it for later.

Gigi and Nico signature in pink

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About the author
Since I was little I always wanted to see the world. Travel to new places, get to know new cultures, see how other people live. I love beaches and I love discovering tropical destinations. That is why, together with my partner Nico, we created this blog to share with you the most beautiful beaches and stunning holiday destinations which we visited during our travels.

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