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Interesting Facts About The Tasmanian Devil

Updated on June 8, 2013
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The Tasmanian devil is native to Tasmania, an island located at the southern coast of Australia. This animal inhabits the Australian mainland about 600years ago, but was haunted by early settlers thus resulting to its extinction. Today, this animal can be found in the National parks and forest areas of the Tasmanian Island. In the wild, this specie can live up to 6 years and for almost 10 years while in captivity. The Latin name for the Tasmanian devil is Sarcophilus harrisii, which means Harris' meat lover. Their Latin name is Sarcophilus harrisii, meaning Harris's meat lover.

Physical Profile

These creatures are from the Marsupialia family from where pouched mammals, such as the kangaroo, came from. The body of the Tasmanian devil is covered with black fur with white markings on the chest, shoulder, and rump and on the tail at times. Adults normally have heads and necks bigger than their body and because they are equipped with large powerful jaws, they can easily cut and crunch their victim. Average male Tasmanian devils can grow up to 2.5 feet tall, while female species are around 2 feet. Both adult males and females, on the other hand, can weigh between 12 and 18 pounds.

Tasmanian devils have whiskers on top of their head and face. They are known for their excellent sense of smell and hearing, and as these mammals are nocturnal, they also have sharp vision. They also have pointy and pink large ears and they are known as the only living mammal with the maximum bite force. Tasmanian devils have 42 crushing and grinding teeth, which they already have since birth.

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Devil's Diet

These mammals are carnivorous though they are not regarded as great hunters. Tasmanian devils are considered scavengers, as they prefer carcasses instead of hunting animals. This specie has dietary habits comparable to those of the hyenas, meaning they can feed on almost anything like bones, carrion, skin, fur or skull. These mammals also eat possums, birds, kangaroos, wallabies, reptiles, insects and amphibians, and they may even steal eggs from birds' nests in case they are unsuccessful in their hunting practice. Tasmanian devils are referred to as mini-vacuum cleaners because you cannot see any trace of food once they are done eating - even the maggots and fleas. This animal is a noisy eater and can go in a rage when disturbed while having a meal.

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Mating and Reproduction

These marsupials normally start breeding during their second year. March is their month for mating with 21 days of gestation. The male specie follows the female to provide security until she has given birth by the month of April. The female specie, on the other hand, can give birth to approximately 30 babies though only 4 of these can actually survive. Baby Tasmanian devils are usually born pre-mature and will only develop further in the mother's pouch, which is small and with only four teats or mamillae.

The young joey will attach itself to the mother's teat and is usually carried around for 4 months. While inside the pouch, the young one is continuously nursed but once the nesting period ended, young Tasmanian devils are left in small dens or hollow logs and weaned out by 5 months. In late December, the mother can live the baby alone in bushes to fend for themselves.

Baby Tasmanian Devil

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Unique Characteristics

Tasmanian devils are solitary nocturnal mammals. They are intelligent and strong, and they can run twice as fast as the hyenas. They are very agile and can quickly climb trees. These mammals usually spend their time resting in dens, burrows or hollow logs but goes out at night to hunt for prey. They can produce ferocious sounding hollow growls if scared or angry. Their famous yawn is used to frighten predators and they can let go of a sharp odor whenever they are distressed. These Tasmanian devils can make use of fearsome sounds, as well as physical posturing in order to establish dominance over other devils within the area.

Although Tasmanian devils were hunted during the earlier centuries, their number continuously increases with the help of the Australian Government and its programs and initiatives. However, these marsupials are now battling a new enemy and that is the Devil Facial Tumor Disease, which wiped out almost 50% of its entire population during the first outbreak. This is a form of cancer that is transmissible and may occur in the head, face or neck of the animal. As of today, there are no cures found for this condition yet and the only way to stop it from spreading is through isolation. This is necessary in order to save the healthy ones from death and extinction.

Bite of the Tasmanian Devil

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  • Sneha Sunny profile image

    Sneha Sunny 

    5 years ago from India

    Interesting hub. I remember the Tasmanian Devil from the Looney Toons cartoon when I was a kid but I never knew much about them. I didn't knew they are endangered. Thank you for sharing this hub.

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