Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil

Because I reside in Queensland in Australia, there are no Tasmanian Devils that I would ever see in my backyard at home since they can only be found in Tasmania, but I do consider Australia itself as my big backyard, and so I thought I would include a post about these fascinating animals. These devils are also on the brink of extinction, so I thought it might help to give these animals some exposure and show you some photos and videos I have taken of them at wildlife parks. I have only ever seen a wild Tassie devil back in 2003 while holidaying in Tasmania, but that’s another story for another time.

So what is a Tasmanian Devil? First of all, it is the world’s largest living carnivorous marsupial (thanks to the extinction of Australia’s Tasmanian Tiger in 1936). A marsupial is a mammal that gives birth to a very small live baby and then carries it in a pouch until it is old enough to get around on its own. Australia has lots of marsupials like kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, possums, bandicoots, numbats, bilbies, quokkas, and quolls, just to name a few.

When looking at a Tasmanian Devil, you can see that it is mainly black in colour with a few white markings, has a large broad head and a thick tail. It is believed that around 16% of devils are completely black with no markings. The devil is also short and stocky with males weighing up to 12kg and females weighing up to 8kg. They stand at around 30cm high at shoulder height.

So why are they called a Tasmanian Devil? European settlers named it this because of a night they would hear strange and frightening screams and growls coming from the forest near their homes. When they went out to investigate with their lanterns, they saw a black dog-like creature with a wide jaw and huge teeth with red ears which they thought looked like a hell hound. And believe me, the noise the devils make when they fight is very loud and sounds like screaming, so they are appropriately named!

Here’s a video I took recently of a Tasmanian Devil sunbaking in the late afternoon sun at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Tasmanian Devils are a very important animal for the environment. They are scavengers that eat dead animals (like roadkill) and don’t often hunt for food. They eat all of the carcass, including fur and bones. They will eat almost anything they find that is dead, like echidnas, wallabies, birds, fish, snakes, and apparently they are partial to wombats.

Trivia Bit – Uninterrupted, a Tasmanian Devil can eat up to 40% of its body weight in 30 minutes and this would keep it going for about 2 days.

Watch this video I took recently of Tasmanian Devils Storm and Luna at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Sadly, this fascinating animal is facing extinction because of a terrible cancerous tumour disease called Devil Facial Tumour Disease. It is an awful illness which affects the devil’s face which gradually makes eating very difficult and so the animal slowly starves to death. No one knows how it came about or what caused it but it seemed to make an appearance in the late 1990s and has since decimated the devil population. There is no cure and the disease is always fatal. The following pictures are from the website of Devil Ark and show just how terrible the disease is.

If you would like to know more about the devils and this horrible disease and if you would like to donate to help save the species please visit the website for the Save The Tasmanian Devil Appeal.  This is an Australian Government response to the situation concerning the devils’ plight and the funds raised go towards research for finding a cure and vaccine as well as breeding an insurance population of healthy disease free devils so we don’t lose them forever.

I wonder what he's thinking .......
I wonder what he’s thinking …….