Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian DevilScientific Name: Sarcophilus harrisii
Conservation Status: Endangered
Body Length: 55–65 cm
Weight: 7–9 kg
Gestation: 18 days
Number of young: 3–4

Distribution: Tasmania
Habitat: Rainforests, eucalypt forests, farmlands and even outer city suburbs.

Description: Tasmanian Devils are Australia’s largest carnivorous marsupial and are about the same size as a large domestic cat. Their powerful jaws and teeth have the same crushing power as a dog four times their size. They are black in colour with a white band on the chest and hindquarters and have nearly-hairless, pink ears. The tail is 24–26 cm long.

Diet: Tasmanian Devils are carnivores and will eat any meat they find, dead or alive, such as small mammals, birds and insects. Devils are not territorial, and will wander over a range of 10–20 hectares in search of food.

In the wild: Tasmanian Devils are nocturnal and spend the daytime sleeping in dens made in hollow logs, caves or old wombat burrows which they line with grass and leaves. If attacked, adult Tasmanian Devils can use their threatening growls and powerful bite to deter most animals.

Young Devils are excellent tree climbers and this allows them to escape predators.

Threats: They are often hit by cars as they feed on other road-killed animals. They were once common on mainland Australia. The arrival of the Dingo may have caused their extinction on the mainland due to food competition.

Tasmanian Devils are threatened by a transmissable cancer called Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) which causes facial tumours and death. It is now known the disease is spread directly from animal to animal through bites infected when fighting. No cure has yet been found.

Australian zoos are working with government departments to secure a future for the Tasmanian Devil. This includes research and the establishment of the Save the Tasmanian Devils Program Insurance Population which aims to maintain a captive population of these endangered marsupials against extinction.

At Perth Zoo: Perth Zoo’s Tasmanian Devils can be seen in the Australian Bushwalk next to the koalas.

Did you know? It can be very noisy when Tasmanian Devils come together to feed on the same carcass. These noises range from snorts to barks and growls to terrifying screeches.

Download the Tasmanian Devil Fact Sheet (pdf).

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