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Tasmanian Tiger

Updated on January 2, 2015

Tasmanian Tiger

The Tasmanian tiger, also known as the thylacine or Tasmanian wolf, is not actually a member of the cat family (tiger) or the dog family (wolf) but is a type of marsupial (the female carries her young in a pouch like a kangaroo). Its scientific name is Thylacinus cynocephalus which literally means "pouched dog with wolf's head" or more accurately, "pouched thing with dog's head".

The Tasmanian tiger is a carnivorous (meat-eating) marsupial. Once common in Tasmania, it is now labeled as extinct. During the 1930s, the last thylacine to be killed in the wild was shot and the last known Tamanian tiger died in captivity.

The above picture and all the black and white images on this webpage are courtesy of wikimedia commons.

Tasmanian tiger facts #1

Tasmanian tigers were also known as:thylacineTasmanian wolfmarsupial wolfVan Dieman's land tigerTasmanian dingopouched hyenazebra wolf


What does a Tasmanian tiger look like?

The Tasmanian tiger is a sandy-colored, dog-like marsupial with a rigid tail and 13 to 19 stripes between its shoulder and the base of its tail. The male has a longer, thinner face than the female. The average length for an adult thylacine is about 5 feet but the thylacine can be up to six feet in a straight line measure from its nose to the tip of its tail. Its hindfeet each have four pads and its forefeet, five. The female has a pouch which opens towards the rear, unlike most marsupials, whose pouches open forwards.

Thylacine from wikimedia.


Male and Female Tasmanian Tigers

male and femaleTasmanian tigers
male and femaleTasmanian tigers

A photo of a male (background) and female (foreground) Tasmanian tigers in the Hobart Zoo. Notice how the male is bigger than the female.

Tasmanian tiger facts #2

The pattern of stripes on the Tasmanian tiger's back is unique like each person's fingerprints.

Where did Tasmanian tigers live? - Here's a map of Australia

Where is Tasmania?
Where is Tasmania?
Thylacine rock art
Thylacine rock art

The Tasmanian tiger once inhabited most of Tasmania (the southern-most island state of Australia) apart from the southwest. From fossil evidence, bones and rock paintings, sceintists have found that thylacines once lived in places other than Tasmania: mainland Australia and Papua New Guinea. In 1965 a mummified carcass of a Tamanian tiger was found in a cave on the Nullarbor Plains. The cave was relatively cool and dry (like Egyptian tombs) enabling this carcass to be preserved intact for maybe thousands of years.

The aboriginal rock painting shown here was found in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and is possibly of a thylacine and her cub.


Tasmanian tiger facts #3

A Tasmanian tiger could open its mouth unusually wide - up to 120°.

Tasmanian tiger with wide open mouth
Tasmanian tiger with wide open mouth

What did the Tasmanian tiger eat?

Tasmanian tiger with chicken
Tasmanian tiger with chicken

It is said that the Tasmanian tiger liked only freshly killed meat. Its diet consisted of mainly wallabies and pademelons, although some other birds and mammals were also eaten. It was a predator and with its stripes giving it great camouflage, it would lie in wait for its prey. According to reports, a thylacine would track its prey either singly or in small family groups. It had a good sense of smell and although it moved more slowly than most of its prey, its stamina enabled it to catch even these faster animals.

Thylacine eating

Historic video (only 8 seconds long) of a thylacine eating in capitivity - 1911.

thylacine bounty hunter
thylacine bounty hunter

The sad history of thylacine extinction

  • 200-2000 years ago: Thylacine disappeared from Papua New Guinea and mainland Australia (possibly due to climate change or from predators such as the dingo).
  • 1803: Europeans first migrated to Tasmania.
  • 1808: George Harris, surveyor general of Tasmania published the first scientific description of the thylacine, naming it Thylacinus cynocephalus.
  • 1824: sheep grazing begins in eastern Tasmania. The sheep were easy targets for the thylacines.
  • 1824: A large pastoral company in north-west Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land Company) paid a reward for every Tasmanian tiger killed on its property. They paid more than 80 bounties.
  • 1888 - 1909: The Tasmanian government paid 2072 £1 bounties for thylacine scalps.
  • 1910: Tasmanian tiger numbers were critically low and live Tassy tigers were worth much more than dead ones.
  • 1928: A proposal by the Tasmanian Advisory Committee for Native Fauna that the Tasmanian tiger be protected was opposed by landowners and was consequently defeated.
  • 1930: The last Tasmanian tiger to be shot in the wild was killed.
  • 1936: Thylacines were declared a protected / endangered species.
  • 1936: The last captive Tasmanian tiger died in the Hobart zoo.
  • 1986: The Tasmanian tiger was declared extinct.

Tasmanian tiger facts #5

The last captive Tasmanian tiger died on September the 7th 1936.

The last known Tasmanian tiger - Died in Hobart Zoo

Tasmanian tiger facts #6

The last Tassy tiger in the Hobart zoo was most probably female although there are many stories around saying that it was a male named Benjamin.

The Hobart Zoo - formerly called the Beaumaris Zoo

Home of last Tasmanian Tiger
Home of last Tasmanian Tiger

This is a picture of the restored gates of the zoo where the last Tasmanian Tiger died.

(My own photo)

Tasmanian tiger facts #7

No thylacines were ever bred in captivity.

Tasmanian Coat of Arms
Tasmanian Coat of Arms

Tasmanian Coat of Arms

Of course you will recognise the supporters on either side of the shield on the Tasmanian coat of arms - two Tasmanian tigers.

Tasmanian Tiger Coloring Page - Thylacine Colouring Page

Tasmanian Tiger Coloring Page
Tasmanian Tiger Coloring Page

My Tassy tiger lineart. Click to enlarge.

More Tasmanian Tiger Activities and Crafts

Tasmanian Tiger Activities and Crafts
Tasmanian Tiger Activities and Crafts

Click to enlarge the above thylacine pattern which can be used for perler beads (hama beads) or sticking colored dots on some graph paper.

Student workbook and teacher's guide

Make a printable model Tasmanian tiger (as well as a kangaroo, galah and bilby)

Online interactive cloning activity

Online thylacine jigsaw puzzle

Links checked Apr 2013

Tasmanian tiger sightings

Several searches for the Tasmanian tiger have been funded over the years. But although thousands of dollars have been spent, no conclusive evidence has yet been discovered. Thousands of sightings have been recorded and some of them even filmed. Many of these sightings have been on the Australian mainland rather than in Tasmania. Check out these videos. Do you think any of these could be our elusive Tassy tiger?

Is the Tasmanian tiger still out there?

So what do you reckon?

See results

Any thoughts or comments?

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    • profile image

      Namsak 4 years ago

      Sadly, the Tasmanian Tiger's story is not unique. Man is responsible for so many extinctions. Perhaps genetics can show the way to saving some of our most endangered species. Very interesting lens.

    • Elis173 profile image

      Elis173 5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • maryseena profile image

      maryseena 5 years ago

      I didn't know anything about Tasmanian Tiger until I read your lens. It's sad that we are rapidly losing many of the animal species in spite of conservation efforts!

    • profile image

      Snakesmum 5 years ago

      I would love to know for sure that these animals still exist. What a tragedy that they were persecuted as they were.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 5 years ago from Connecticut

      Hopefully, there's still a undiscovered remnant popular of Tasmanian Tigers out there somewhere....

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @captainj88: it is

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Since 1987 I have been told of their sightings by very-believable people in north, & central Queensland, Golden Beach & Loch Sport in Victoria, as well as various areas of Tasmania.

      Recently I was told by an ex lighthouse keeper that he saw one when he was stationed at Wilsons Promotory lighthouse in approximatelt 1984.


    • profile image

      nifwlseirff 5 years ago

      Such a beautiful animal, and such a shame it is extinct! I wonder how they are related to the Tassie devil - both of them could / can open their jaws amazingly wide.

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 5 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Very cool. Never heard of this animal. I hope it's not extinct.

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 5 years ago from Australia

      @anonymous: Oops. You caught me out. I've now reworded the answers so that it's hopefully clearer.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I didn't answer #5 with all of Australia and Papua New Guinea because of the part in the distribution section that said they were not found in the southwest part of Tasmania.

      I just want to say that this is the most amazing thing I have seen in a while! What a wonderful thing to do for your fellow homeschoolers!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I sure hope that they are still alive. They look so cute!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      hope their still out their

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      hope their still out their!!!!! cool animal like a dog or dingo

    • EMangl profile image

      EMangl 5 years ago

      the stuffed one in the viennese museum of nature is somehow a monument for people's idiocy

    • profile image

      supersiva 5 years ago

      Interesting to hear about Tasmanian tigers for the first time

    • profile image

      ShoppingQueen47 5 years ago

      I sure hope there are more in the wild. They are beautiful creatures and it would be horrible if they are really extinct.

    • profile image

      Tasmania-australia 5 years ago

      Awesome lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Yall need to study more. Ive been in love with this amazing animal for most of my life. I read on more then one occasion that they did successfully bred one of them in captivity. Look it up and give me my credit for being right.

    • AgingIntoDisabi profile image

      AgingIntoDisabi 6 years ago

      I have hope that there are one or two still in the wild somewhere.

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 6 years ago from Australia

      @anonymous: All the best with your talk. Are you talking about the Tassie tiger?

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      well I mean I"m doin this project on extinct animals and i have to talk for 3 min long without sayin ummm or mmm.... so I have to pick an animal that is not hard ohh.. I can't look at the board !!!=( im dead it's DUE wensday

    • MindPowerProofs1 profile image

      MindPowerProofs1 6 years ago

      I love tigers but not this one.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

      Great lens and loved the quiz. Blessed, hugs

    • BryanLSC profile image

      BryanLSC 6 years ago

      Would love to see a real live Tasmanian Tiger... Would surely be a fascinating sight! Or perhaps I should travel back in time? :p Nice lens!

    • JK Sterling profile image

      Jim Sterling 6 years ago from Franklin, Tennessee

      What a fantastic lens, thank you.

    • ozylizzy profile image

      ozylizzy 6 years ago

      Great lens, and I love the quiz,

    • GypsyPirate LM profile image

      GypsyPirate LM 6 years ago

      Wow, I had never heard of the Tasmanian Tiger and thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It's so sad that man is the reason for it's extinction - it would be lovely if some of those videos on the Australian mainland were truly a Tiger or two.

    • profile image

      gogolf162 6 years ago

      I did not know there was so much information on the Tasmanian Tiger!

    • pimbels lm profile image

      pimbels lm 6 years ago

      I have never seen them before. Very interesting lens, thank you.

    • profile image

      termit_bronx 7 years ago

      Wow! Nice lens! I loved reading it! :)

    • profile image

      CofCJenny LM 7 years ago

      How interesting! I don't think I've ever seen one before.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Very interesting. Hopefully some of these animals are still hiding out in remote regions that we haven't found yet. It's happened before.

    • missbat profile image

      missbat 7 years ago

      Congratulations on your new purple star! This lens deserved one! :D

    • missbat profile image

      missbat 7 years ago

      I'd never heard of the Tasmanian Tiger before reading your lens. What a beautiful creature, so sad it's now extinct. Thank you for sharing about this unusual animal!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      How sad that this unusual animal has been lost to the world. I had never heard of it before. I wonder if my convict ancestor saw one when he was living in Tasmania.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 8 years ago from Central Florida

      I learned some new information here as I hadn't realized they lived outside Tasmania. The videos were fascinating and really makes one wonder. I hope there are some elusive Tasmanian tigers on the loose.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 8 years ago from United States

      What a shame this pretty little fellow could not be saved from extinction! Thank you for sharing about him. I am lensrolling to my Hanginâ With Sylvestermouse and Her Favorite Animals lens.

    • profile image

      CleanerLife 8 years ago

      I just saw a program about the people who think they may have sighted some of these unique animals still living in the wild. It would be wonderful if some still existed, but do we really want to find them?

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Very interesting. I'd never heard of this animal. How sad that's it's disappeared.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Very, very interesting lens. I got an education about a wonderful animal I never knew about before. Blessed!


    • verymary profile image

      Mary 8 years ago from Chicago area

      Had not seen this animal before. Thanks for the introduction!

    • momto4 lm profile image

      momto4 lm 8 years ago

      What a great lens! I've never heard of the Tasmanian Tiger. I hope they're still alive too! They're a neat looking animal.

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 8 years ago

      Very cool!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      What a gorgeous animal! I hope they really are being seen and are not extinct as thought.

    • profile image

      bdkz 8 years ago

      Super lens!