Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil walking on rocky and leafy ground

What does it look like? Unmistakable. Predominantly black, occasionally with reddish wash, with white patches often present on chest, but may also appear on shoulders and rump, and female with complete, rear-facing pouch. Head wide (wider in males), with large, powerful jaws. Five toes on the front foot and four on the rear. Emits loud, guttural vocalisations.

Where is it found? Once widespread on the mainland, but now restricted to Tas, including Robbins and Maria (introduced in 2012) Islands. Captive population in Barrington Tops NSW.

What are its habitats & habits? Most habitats, including wet and dry sclerophyll forests, woodlands, scrublands and grasslands, where it is nocturnal, foraging on the ground for medium-sized mammals, birds, large invertebrates and carrion, with all parts of the animal (even bones) digested. Sleeps during the day in hollow logs, rocky caves, dense vegetation or in a den. Females have four teats and around 2-3 young are normally born in March.

Interesting fact: Population decimated following Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) discovery in 1996, an infectious cancer that is spread by contact. Recent evidence suggests that immunotherapy is proving successful against DFTD.

Scientific name: Sarcophilus harrisii    

Size: 815-910 mm TL, including tail 245-260 mm (males generally larger than females)

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