The Case of the Baby-Faced Assassin

There’s a blood-thirsty killer hiding in Tasmania’s forests and the prime suspect is the spotted-tailed quoll. We go undercover and enter the secretive lives of these cute critters to solve the mystery.

Produced by NHNZ

There’s a killer hiding in the forests of Tasmania; a killer so secretive it strikes under the cover of nightfall, leaving no clues to its identity — just a mass of bloody chicken feathers.

The brutal murderer breaks into chicken coops and attacks every hen on site. Farmers from the small settlement of Mole Creek suspect the killer is the spotted-tailed quoll, a secretive member of the Tasmanian marsupial family about which very little is known.

To try to solve this chilling mystery and find out if these baby-faced assassins commit such blood-thirsty crimes, the farmers call in animal detective and wildlife park owner Androo Kelly, a specialist in nabbing wildlife outlaws.

The town of Mole Creek has more than one link with Tasmanian outlaws; the pub is called The Tiger Bar, after the Tasmanian Tiger — another carnivorous marsupial which preyed on farm animals until it was wiped out early last century — and Androo himself is a direct descendent of the legendary Australian outlaw Ned Kelly.

Rightly or wrongly, the mysterious spotted-tailed quoll is gaining a reputation in line with these notorious bandits, so Androo wastes no time in setting up traps near the chicken coops, and lies in wait to catch the culprit.

As Androo and the farmers wait anxiously, in the depths of the nearby forests a spotted-tailed quoll is preparing to mate. With the use of night-vision cameras, we enter the never-before-seen lives of these animals to witness the courtship, mating ritual, and three weeks later, the 12-hour labour followed by the birth of 15-20 rice-sized babies.

Only six of the multitudinous brood survive. Over the next 12 weeks we join them as they develop into young adults, and eventually venture out of the tree-den for the first time.

But could these furry fiends be carrying out horrific murders on the farms at nightfall, and how do the secretive creatures compare to their cousins, the Eastern quoll, Tasmanian devil and the antechinus?

Each morning Androo returns to the farm to check his traps, but finds them empty. Day after day, more chickens are snatched and no clues are left, until one night a shot of the farmer’s gun reveals all.

The Case of the Baby-Faced Assassin is a murder mystery like no other. As well as revealing the fascinating behaviour of the spotted-tailed quoll and its marsupial relatives, it also solves the mystery of the Mole Creek farm crimes. Could the spotted-tailed quoll be innocent, and are humans really the guilty party behind a wildlife crisis looming in Tasmania?   

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