Quokka Selfies Take the Internet by Storm (But Not Everyone Thinks That's a Good Thing)

Photo: Ashley Whitworth/Shutterstock

Let's just get right to the point: The quokka is arguably one of the most adorable marsupials to ever grace the great continent of Australia. Period.

The cat-sized macropod was dubbed the "happiest animal in the world" in 2013 thanks to its ever-smiling demeanor, so it should come as no surprise to learn of the internet's latest hashtag craze: #QuokkaSelfie.

These squeal-inducing self-portraits are almost exclusively taken by tourists visiting Western Australia's Rottnest Island. Even though taking photos with them is technically legal, should you?

While it might sound fun to hang out and snap a photo with these adorable creatures, be aware that it is illegal to handle them in the wild. Although these little guys are doing well in Rottnest Island, their mainland counterparts are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List due to habitat destruction and the introduction of predator species such as foxes, dingos and domestic cats and dogs. These threats, combined with the animals' lack of fear of humans and low rate of reproduction (only one offspring per quokka per year) means extra care must be taken.

It's illegal to touch the creatures in the wild. You'll notice in some of the photos below that people are contorting their bodies into bizarre positions and using selfie sticks to achieve the perfect shot — without breaking the law.

In 2018, Instagram cracked down on #quokkaselfie. A page comes up saying warning people they are "searching for a hashtag that may be associated with harmful behavior to animals or the environment." That doesn't mean people can't post photos with the marsupial, but it is part of the social media company's push against animal exploitation.