The Tasmanian Devil may not be the most attractive or friendly of Australia's endangered species, though it is possibly facing the toughest battle. Australian's are battling tirelessly to ensure the Tasmanian Devil doesn't go down the same path as the Tasmanian Tiger which was listed extinct in 1986.
Found only in the wilds of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Devil is the largest of the Marsupial carnivores. With its thick black fur, triangular shaped head with a set of powerful jaws and teeth, it has white markings on its chest, shoulders and rump as well as a thick tail. Some say it resembles a small stocky dog.
Tasmanian Devils are carnivores feasting mainly on beached fish, birds, insects, wallabies, possums and wombats. They will hunt if given the opportunity with their favourite technique being to pounce on the prey and bite at its head or chest. Not one to give up on a perfectly good opportunity they are also happy to feast on already dead animals. Tasmanian Devils have amazingly powerful jaws allowing them to eat the entire carcass. Devils will eat in numbers, there fore putting up a feisty demeanor is a must to scare off the competition and avoid any fights.
A male Tasmanian Devil will weigh up to 12 kilograms and a female up to 8 kilograms, they are known to live up to 5 years in the wild. Their mating season is during march with births beginning three weeks later, the young will then stay in the mothers pouch for up to five months until they are fully furred. Once they have enough fur to keep them warm they will stay in a grass lined den until they are 6 months old. After 6 months of age the young will start to roam out side of the den they will stay near the den until they are fully weaned at around 10 months of age.
The Tasmanian Devil is not a naturally aggressive animal, in fact they are quite timid and shy. A Devil will not attack or hurt a human unless it is being harmed itself or is fearful of being harmed.
It is not necessarily humans or loss of habitat which are affecting the Tasmanian Devils survival rate. It is in actual fact a rare facial tumor disease, which at this stage has no cure. This fatal disease has been found to be covering up to 60% of Tasmania, it is an infectious cancer only spread to other Tasmanian Devils. The disease begins by forming a small lump around the Devils mouth, these continue to grow making it difficult for the animal to eat. Once the lumps are visible the animal tends to pass away within 3 months.
This contagious cancerous disease is spread when adult infected animals bite each other. A very serious condition with already a 70% decline in Tasmanian Devil sightings from 1996 to 2009. There is alot of research being done with government funding involved, to try and find a treatment or a cure to help the Tasmanian Devil before it is to late.
An intriguing animal which is uniquely Australian.