The Tasmanian devil is a carnivorous marsupial in the family Dasyuridae. Its scientific name is Sarcophilus harrisii. It used to only live on the island state of Tasmania, but now a small breeding population has been set up on the mainland state of New South Wales. After the thylacine died out in 1936, the Tasmanian devil became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world. It was about the size of a small dog.
It is closely related to quolls and not very close to the thylacine. Moreover, it has a stocky, muscular body, black fur, a strong smell, a very loud and disturbing screech, a good sense of smell, and is very aggressive when it eats. The Tasmanian devil has a big head and neck, which gives it one of the strongest bites/units of body mass of any predatory land mammal that is still alive today. It hunts for food and eats dead animals.
So, what is a Tasmanian devil? The Tasmanian devil is the largest carnivorous marsupial that is still alive. It is short and fat, with a big head and a tail that is about half the length of its body. Devils have longer front legs than back legs, which is unusual for a marsupial. They can run up to 13 km/h (8.1 mph) for short distances.
The fur is usually black, but the chest and back often have random white patches (although approximately 16 percent of wild devils do not have white patches). These marks show that the devil is most active at dawn and dusk. They are also thought to draw biting attacks on less important parts of the body since fighting between devils often leaves scars in that area. Males are usually bigger than females. The average length of a male’s head and body is 652 mm (25.7 in), and his tail is 258 mm (10.2 in) long. He weighs an average of 8 kg (18 lb).
Females have an average length of 570 mm (22 in) for their head and body, a tail length of 244 mm (9.6 in), and an average weight of 6 kg (13 lb), though devils in western Tasmania tend to be smaller. Devils’ front feet have five long toes, four pointing forward and one sticking out to the side. This lets the devil hold food. The back feet of a devil has four toes, and the claws don’t come back in. The center of mass of the stocky devils is not too high.
Habitat: Where Do Tasmanian Devils Live?
Devils live in all kinds of places on the island of Tasmania, even on the edges of cities. They can be found all over the mainland and on Robbins Island, which is connected to the mainland at low tide. Individuals live west of the Forth River and as far south as Macquarie Heads in the northwest. They lived on Bruny Island in the 19th century, but no one has seen or heard of them since 1900.
They were brought there illegally in the mid-1990s, but the Tasmanian government got rid of them in 2007. Even though there was no DFTD on Badger Island, the individuals were sent back to the Tasmanian mainland, some to infected areas. Moreover, devils have less of an effect on livestock and native animals than dingoes, and the population on the mainland could act as an extra safety net.
Tasmanian Devil Behaviour
The Tasmanian devil is an important part of the Tasmanian ecosystem. It hunts at night and at dawn and dusk. During the day, it hides in a thick brush or digs a hole. Some people think that animals became nocturnal to avoid being eaten by eagles and people. Most young devils come out at dusk or dawn. There is no sign of slumber.
Devils can climb trees when they are small, but it gets harder as they get bigger. Moreover, devils can climb trees with trunks that are wider than 40 cm (16 in) and don’t have many small side branches, up to about 2.5–3 m (8.2–9.8 ft) high. Devils that haven’t grown up yet can climb shrubs up to 4 m (13.1 ft) high and trees that aren’t straight up to 7 m (23 ft) high.
Adult devils may eat their young ones if they are very hungry, so the ability to climb may have evolved to help young devils getaway. Devils can also swim, and people have seen them crossing rivers as wide as 50 meters (160 feet), even icy cold ones, with enthusiasm.
What Do Tasmanian Devils Eat?
So, what do the Tasmanian devils eat? Tasmanian devils can catch animals up to the size of a small kangaroo, but they are more likely to eat dead animals than to hunt for live ones. The devil prefers to eat wombats because they are easy to catch and have a lot of fat. However, it will eat all small native mammals like wallabies, bettongs, and potoroos, as well as domestic mammals like sheep and rabbits, birds like penguins, fish, fruit, vegetables, insects, tadpoles, frogs, and reptiles.
Their food choices are very different and depend on what is available. Before the thylacine went extinct, the Tasmanian devil ate thylacine cubs when their parents left them alone in their dens. This may have made it easier for thylacine to go extinct since it also ate devils. People have seen them hunt water rats by the water and eat dead fish that have washed up on the beach. Near people, they can also steal shoes and chew on them. They can also eat the legs of otherwise healthy sheep that have fallen in wooden shearing sheds and left their legs hanging down.
Some other strange things that have been found in devil poop are the collars and tags of animals that the devil has eaten, intact echidna spines, pencils, plastic, and jeans. Devils can bite through metal traps but usually use their strong jaws to break out of cages instead of getting into food storage. They aren’t very fast, so they can’t catch a wallaby or a rabbit. However, they can attack sick animals that are moving slowly. They check out flocks of sheep by smelling them from 10–15 m (33–49 ft) away, and if any of the sheep are sick, they attack. The sheep show their strength by stamping their feet.
Tasmanian Devil Reproduction
Steps that young Tasmanian devils go through as they grow up. The diagonal lines show how long each change takes. For example, it takes a devil about 90 days to get fur all over its body.
When females reach sexual maturity, which usually happens in their second year, they start to have babies. At this point, they only get fertile once a year, and when they do, they make a lot of eggs. As prey is most plentiful in spring and early summer, the devil’s reproductive cycle begins in March or April. This is done so that the young devils can find the most food in the wild when the weaning period ends.
You may like SENEGAL PARROT (POICEPHALUS SENEGALUS)
It’s not clear why devils stopped living on the mainland, but their decline seems to have happened at the same time as a sudden change in climate and the spread of indigenous Australians and dingoes across the mainland.
But it’s not known if it was direct hunting by humans, competition with dingoes, changes caused by the growing human population, which by 3000 years ago was using all types of habitat across the continent, or a combination of all three. Devils and dingoes lived together on the mainland for about 3000 years.
Can Tasmanian Devils Hurt Humans?
Tassie devils don’t hurt people or pose a threat to them. They don’t attack people, but if someone tries to hurt them or traps them, they will fight back. Devils may look scary, but they’d rather run away than fight. But devils have strong jaws and can do a lot of damage when they bite.
Is A Tasmanian Devil A Good Pet?
No, a Tasmanian Devil can’t be your pet. Moreover, the tasmanian Devils are wild animals that like to look for food by walking for miles around their home range. They are animals that like to be on their own.
How Rare Is A Tasmanian Devil?
Because of this, the number of Tasmania devils has dropped from 140,000 to as few as 20,000. The IUCN now lists this species as endangered.
Why Do Tasmanian Devils Scream?
When the devil feels threatened, it gets angry and starts growling, lunging, and showing its teeth. It also makes strange screams that can sound like the devil. The Tazmania devil may be a lone animal because of its bad temper.
Are Tasmanian Devils Aggressive?
Tasmanian Devils can be very mean when they feel threatened or are competing for food. In the dark, they bare their teeth, lunge, and make loud, blood-curdling shrieks that made the first settlers think demons were all around them.
How Strong Is A Tasmanian Devil Bite?
Their jaws can open up to 80 degrees, which gives them a lot of power to tear meat apart and break bones. Their bite force is 553 N, which is more than any other living mammalian carnivore. Even though they eat and have babies at night, Tasmanian devils are often seen relaxing in the sun.
Are Tasmanian Devils Extinct
Only on the island state of Tasmania can you find the endangered Tasmanian devil, the largest carnivorous mammal in the world. Once widespread over Australia, it is believed that wild dogs drove it to extinction about 400 years ago.
Can Tasmanian Devils Swim?
Tasmanian devils can swim if they need to, and they seem to love water. They will wade, splash, and even sit or lie down in it to keep cool.
Parvaiz Yousuf is a senior SEO writer and editor with an experience of over 6 years, who also doubles up as a researcher. With an MSc zoology degree under his belt and possessing complete Search Engine Optimization (SEO) knowledge, he works as a science journalist for a US-based website and Asian Scientist (A Singapore-based magazine). He also works as Director of Wetland Research Centre, Wildlife Conservation Fund YPJK since 2018. Besides, he has several publications to his name on cancer biology and biochemistry in some reputed journals such as Nature & International Journal of Molecular Sciences, & magazines such as Science Reporter, BUCEROS BNHS, and has an abiding interest in ornithology. He also worked as a Research Associate for JK Policy Institute.