Do you know about the Tasmanian Devil? If not, this article has got you covered.
The Tasmanian Devil is known to be the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial. Hence, it is biologically related to kangaroos, bandicoots, and possums.
They serve as the inspiration for well-known childhood cartoon characters and are one of Australia’s most cherished animal species. As interesting as they can be, Tasmanian devils are.
Also, It makes it logical to be more interested in this little devil considering their ongoing battle against extinction. This article includes all the fascinating information about the Devil of Tasmanian that a fan should be aware of.
Facts About Tasmanian Devil
Here are 10 things you should know about these little devils (pun intended):
1) Where Does the Name “Tasmanian Devil” Come From?
The origin of their name goes way back to when the early European settlers came to Australia.
They mentioned hearing cries that sounded so devilish that it convinced the group that the sounds were made by evil spirits that had possessed the bushes in the forest. At that time, many believed if something killed livestock, it had to be the devil.
Thus, they were discovered in Tasmania, and their cries seemed so far from animal cries that they convinced people that the sounds were made by evil spirits sent by the devil himself.
Based they named these rodent-like creatures the Tasmanian Devil.
2) The Behavior of the Tasmanian Devil
The Tasmanian Devil’s MO is that of a lone ranger, i.e. it likes being alone.
Their relationship with humans is non-threatening. Although there is a commonly held belief that they will attack human beings, they shake nervously when in the presence of humans and hence might also react violently if they feel threatened.
They do not display or respond to affection of any sort. This devil usually settles in dark places like burrows that they dig themselves or find, caves, or hollow tree logs that offer habitable conditions. They emerge at night to hunt and gather food.
These animals are nocturnal and have an excellent sense of smell and eyesight that helps them smell out prey and avoid predators.
3) The Temperament of the Tasmanian Devil
Although these little guys might seem adorable in at least some pictures, they’re not so in real life.
They’re wild-tempered. In other words, they go crazy when they feel threatened, compete for a meal with their peers, or fight for a potential mate.
The extent of their aggressive behaviour includes, but is not limited to, teeth-baring, lunging and making terrifying guttural noises to establish dominance.
Tasmanian Devils are also reported to be incredibly territorial.
4) What is the Diet of the Tasmanian Devils?
Tasmanian Devils are known to be carnivorous marsupials; with their large heads, long whiskers, and powerful jaws(also powerful bites), they hunt prey like small birds and small mammals.
It feeds on the dead, decaying matter, which is also considered a secondary food source, although it is tapped into quite frequently.
Its main carnivorous diet consists of insects, birds, snakes, and fish. They are not very selective about what they consume and eat every last bit of their meal, usually whatever they can get their hands on.
5) What are the Reproductive Tendencies of these Animals?
Tasmanian Devils are mammals and marsupials, so the young devils are born underdeveloped and grow up further inside the mother’s pouch.
Many babies are only as small as the size of a raisin. Devils are usually pregnant for only about three weeks.
The mothers give birth to twenty to thirty younglings, but because the mother feeds the children with only four nipples, many younglings born do not make it and lose their chance to be adult devils.
The infants crawl out of the mother’s pouch by the sixth month and are left to fend for themselves by the eighth month of their existence.
The breeding season usually lasts from February to May, and since these animals are mostly solitary, they can only be seen during the mating season.
6) Physical Appearance of the Devil
The Tasmanian Devils are typically known to have either dark brown or black fur coats. They have long front legs and rather short hind legs. You can also compare their appearance to that of a baby bear.
They also have a white patch on their chest, with patchy spots on their sides and behind. They are also a bit stocky and have an almost pig-like gait.
The average length of Tasmanian Devils is about thirty inches or two and a half feet. They weigh between 20 and 30 pounds, but their living conditions widely determine that, and more importantly, food availability.
If the Tasmanian Devil is well fed, the tail swells with the fat accumulated by the food consumed. This feature is common to a lot of marsupials.
Their heads are slightly oversized, with very sharp teeth and immensely strong and muscular jaws. Their bite is also considered to be one of the most powerful of all mammals.
The devils, however, do not have a very long lifespan, as they only live for about five years. Females of two are the most active in reproduction and spend most of their time caring for their babies.
7) Habitat of the Tasmanian Devil
Tasmanian devils usually prefer open and dry surroundings for sustainable habitat.
They prefer living in open forests and are found in areas with little to moderate rainfall. They are not found in places that are at high altitudes, either.
As the name suggests, Tasmanian devils are most prominently found on the island of Tasmania, but they were once found on the Australian mainland.
They are most commonly found around roads on the outskirts of urban areas and farmhouses.
They also lie in wait to scavenge roadkill and often do so in groups. The devils are also known to lie in wait to pounce on small livestock like chickens.
8) Why are they Getting Extinct?
There is a leading cause of the extinction of Tasmanian Devils.
- The Devil Facial Tumour Disease, also known as DFTD, was first identified in 1995 and is the primary contributor to the declining number of Tasmanian Devils.
- The secondary causes that lead to the deaths of members of the species include roadkill. This is because of the devil lingering while feasting on dead carcasses found on highways and the like.
- The third cause that leads to the death of the species’ members is the introduction of Asian dogs into Australia, which dates back about 5000 years.
9) The Devil Facial Tumor Disease
The Devil Facial Tumour Disease has been the primary cause of the depletion of the population of Tasmanian devils by thousands over the years.
It is transmissible and can spread across members of the species by biting. What makes DFTD lethal is the fact that it has no cure to date.
It is a cancer-like disease where infected devils develop tumours around the head and mouth, which makes it extremely difficult for the animal to eat. The devil usually starves to death if it has DFTD due to its inability to consume food.
The species is officially listed as endangered, and scientists are hard at work, looking for regions in which this lethal disease has not yet appeared in populations of the Tasmanian Devils.
They are also working on captive breeding programs to breed members of the species that are free from the disease and to combat the steadily declining population of the Tasmanian Devil.
In research conducted by scientists in 2016, another transmissible cancer-like disease was found, which was labelled the Devil Facial Tumor 2 or DFT2, which is quite indistinguishable from the DFTD, which has now come to be known as DFT1, due to the discovery of the other disease.
The Australian government has made attempts to make a difference and has launched a government-funded initiative; the save the Tasmanian devil program.
Researchers established the movement in 2003 after national wildlife specialists took up the issue with increasing importance.
10) In Pop Culture Appearances of Tasmanian Devil
The Tasmanian Devil, however lethal and aggressive it might be, is widely beloved in mainland Australia and is the animal mascot of its state.
It is also the mascot of many state basketball teams, predominantly in Arkansas, with three to four schools using the coveted devil as their mascot.
The devil has also featured in the immensely popular cartoon TV, in which the Tasmanian Devil is better known as Taz (looney tunes cartoon character). Its cartoon adaptation shares most of its behavioural characteristics with its actual behaviour in the wild.
In other words, it is just as crazy, wild-tempered, and impulsive as the viral cartoon shows portray.
FAQs About Tasmanian Devil
1) What Is Being Done To Fight Against Devil’s Extinction?
Scientists are conducting extensive studies and testing to determine whether or not human anti-cancer medications can affect the treatment of DFT1 and DFT2.
The Tasmanian Devil serves the ecosystem in a variety of ways. The survival of the Tasmanian Devil must be of utmost significance to environmentalists and animal welfare lovers not only in Australia but everywhere else in the world, given the rate at which wild species are going extinct in that country. The extinction of protected species like the Tasmanian tiger proves that.
Awareness-raising efforts by sanctuaries like the Healesville Sanctuary and the shipment of animals to zoos, particularly the San Diego Zoo, have raised hopes that the species’ population would grow.
2) Can Tasmanian devils be kept as pets? If not, why?
The Tasmanian devil is far from being tame enough to be kept as a pet. International and regional legislation likely provides equal protection for Tasmanian devils.
In 2009, WWF listed them as endangered because they would need specialist veterinary treatment, for which most veterinarians lack the necessary training.
3) How is Taz in Looney Tunes different from the real Tasmanian Devil?
It is very different. McKimson only knew the creature from his regular crossword puzzle completion. It’s unclear if he had ever seen a picture of one.
There are several intriguing similarities, including how an egregiously giant skull facilitates a forceful bite. The cartoon shows that Tasmanian devils are believed to have the strongest bite force in proportion to any animal.
However, Taz (the animated character) is unlike his real-life model.
Because there were already too many cats, dogs, bears, etc., in cartoons, animator Robert McKimson wanted to create something unique. Thus, he came up with the cartoon character in 1957.