The Tasmanian devil is a carnivorous marsupial of the family Dasyuridae. It was once native to mainland Australia and was only found in the wild on the island state of Tasmania. It is characterised by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, pungent odour, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell, and ferocity when feeding. It has now been reintroduced to New South Wales with a small breeding population.
About Tasmanian devil in brief
The Tasmanian devil is a carnivorous marsupial of the family Dasyuridae. It was once native to mainland Australia and was only found in the wild on the island state of Tasmania. It has now been reintroduced to New South Wales with a small breeding population. It is characterised by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, pungent odour, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell, and ferocity when feeding. Since the late 1990s, the devil facial tumour disease has drastically reduced the population and now threatens the survival of the species. The devil is an iconic symbol of Tasmania and many organisations, groups and products associated with the state use the animal in their logos. Starting in 2013, Tasmanian devils are again being sent to zoos around the world as part of the Australian government’s Save the Tasmanian Devil Program. The size of a small dog, it became the largest carnivorous Marsupial in the world, following the extinction of the thylacine in 1936. It hunts prey and scavenges carrion, as well as eating household products if humans are living nearby. Although devils are usually solitary, they sometimes eat and defecate together in a communal location. Despite its rotund appearance, it is capable of surprising speed and endurance, and can climb trees and swim across rivers. Males fight one another for females, and guard their partners to prevent female infidelity. Females can ovulate three times in as many weeks during the mating season, and 80% of two-year-old females are seen to be pregnant during the annual mating season.
The newborn are pink, lack fur, have indistinct facial features, and weigh around 0.20g at birth. The young grow rapidly, and are ejected from the pouch after around 100 days, weighing roughly 200 g. The young become independent after around nine months. A tooth found in Augusta, Western Australia, has been dated to 430 years ago, but archaeologist Oliver Brown disputes this and considers the devil’s mainland extinction to have occurred around 3000 years ago. It is believed that ancient marsupials migrated across Gondwana tens of millions of years ago and that they evolved as Australia became more arid. Fossils of species similar to modern devils have been found, but it is not known whether devils are descended from these species or co-existed with them. In 1941, devils became officially protected, and since then, scientists have contended that earlier concerns over the threat to livestock were overestimated and misplaced. In 2008, the species was declared to be endangered, and is now being kept in captivity in Tasmania. The Tasmanian devil was named Sarcophilus harophrisii by French naturalist Pierre Boitard in 1841. It had earlier been given to the common wombat by George Shaw in 1800, but was later changed to the name Sarcopus harophilus in 1987, and later to the modern Tasmanian devil.