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Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil

Only from the island of Tasmania in Australia comes the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii). They were named for the noises they make: the growl when looking for food, and the harsh screeching and screams when a group of devils is feeding on a carcass. Nocturnal animals, these noises are heard at night.

During the day, Tasmanian devils shelter in caves, bushes, old wombat burrows, or hollow logs. They live in coastal scrub, woodlands, eucalypt forests, and agricultural areas. They are shy and timid animals.

Tasmanian devils are the world's largest carnivorous marsupial. Their fur is black, though some have white markings on the chest, shoulder, or rump. Devils weigh 13 to 18 pounds and range from 23 to 26 inches in length. They have a large head with a wide jaw and have sharp teeth. Their pointy pink ears turn red when angry.

Devils are scavengers, who eat any dead animals in the forest. It doesn’t matter how old or rotten the carcass is. Similar to hyenas, devils eat almost every part (bones, skin, skull). They also catch snakes, birds, rodents, lizards, small wallabies, and lamb.

Fun Tasmanian Devil Facts

- A Tasmanian mouth opens very wide to express fear and uncertainty.

- Due to hunting, Tasmanian devils neared extinction at the beginning of the 20th century. Tasmanian wolves (also called tigers) became extinct in 1936. Today Tasmanian devils are endangered by a cancer called Devil Facial Tumor Disease.

- Under stress devils release a foul odor.

- Up to 50 joeys are born to a mother Tasmanian devil, but only the 4, who make it into her pouch and get attached to a teat, have a chance to survive. 2 or 3 is a common number of joeys to actually make it out of the pouch.

- A Tasmanian devil uses a sharp sneeze to challenge other devils, especially before a fight.


Australian Department of Primary Industries and Water

Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania

San Diego Zoo

Save the Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park

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