The Tasmanian Devil


Tasmanian Devils population has declined by 90% in large areas of Tasmania. The Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is a carnivorous marsupial of the family Dasyuridae, now found in the wild only in Tasmania. The size of a small dog, it became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world following the extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger (thylacine. It is characterized by its stocky and muscular build, broad head, pungent odour, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell and apparent ferocity when feeding. The fur is mostly or wholly black, but white markings frequently occur on the rump and chest. Body size also varies greatly, depending on the diet and habitat. Adult males are usually larger than adult females. Large males weigh up to 13 kg, and stand about 30 cm high at the shoulder.

The majority of devils mature at two years old, however since the outbreak of Devil Facial Tumour Disease it appears many females are maturing at one year. The Tasmanian Devil is promiscuous and breeds once a year between February and June. The mother can give birth to 20-40 embryo joeys, each about the size of a grain of rice, however, she has only four teats in her pouch, so it is a race to the pouch from the birth canal for the joeys, with the first four winning a chance at survival.