For those who don’t dwell Down Under, the phrase “Tasmanian Devil” immediately brings about childhood images of Looney Toons. Although Taz the cartoon character may share some traits with the real life carnivorous marsupial, he neither looks nor acts particularly like a real Tasmanian Devil.
As the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial, Tasmanian Devils are undoubtedly one of Australia’s most interesting and unique animals. Get ready to become an expert on these cheeky little devils, here’s 10 facts about Tasmanian devils…
The popular Looney Toons character “Taz” vs a real-life Tasmanian Devil. Seeing double? Nope! Us neither…
A Quick Look….
Scientific Name: Sarcophilus harrisii
Size: Up to 12 kg in weight and 30 cm tall.
Found In: Tasmania
Estimated Wild Population: 10,000-15,000 (as of 2008)
Diet: Mostly carrion. Can hunt small mammals and lizards, fish, birds, amphibians, insects.
1. They Once Lived In Mainland Australia
…Or so historians believed. The Tasmanian Devil is estimated to have become extinct on the Australian mainland around 400 years ago and fossils have been found that prove this.
2. They Are The Largest Carnivorous Marsupial In The World.
The Tassie Devil has held this title for over 80 years. Prior to 1936, the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world was the thylacline, which is commonly know as the Tasmanian Tiger. The thylacline is a distant relative of the Tasmanian Devil and was over the twice it’s size!
3. They Store Fat In Their Tails
As a matter of fact, a particularly plump tail is a sign of a healthy Tassie devil!
4. They Can Eat Up To 40% Of Their Body Weight In A Day
….And you felt bad about reaching for that extra biscuit!
5. Joeys Are Born The Same Size As A Grain Of Rice
A mother gives birth to around 20-40 Joeys at once. However, these joeys have to race to her pouch, which only has 4 teats. Talk about a hard start to life!
6. They Have Once Of The Most Powerful Bites In The World
It’s estimated to be around 544 kg per square inch. This helps them to crush bones for consumption. They can also open their jaw 75-80 degrees.
Sleepy little devil!
7. They Yawn When Confronted
Although the yawn is more a display of fear and anxiety than aggression.
8. They Are Great Tree Climbers
They are also incredible swimmers and can run at 24 km/h for up to an hour straight.
9. Their Scientific Name Translated To “Harris’s Meat Lover”
“Sarcophilus harrissii” comes from the scientist Harris who described the Tasmanian Devil.
10. Rainforestation Has The Only Captive Tasmanian Devils In Far North Queensland
Our Tasmanian Devils Neville the Devil and Dennis
Luckily, you don’t have to head all the way to Tasmania to spot the state’s namesake Devil! Rainforestation Nature Park is home to two cheeky and energetic Tasmanian Devils, Neville the Devil and Dennis the Menace. These half-brothers are very fond of each other and often enjoy playing together in their enclosure, although they do have their moments, as all siblings do!
Neville and Dennis were sent to Rainforestation by Devils Ark, a captive breeding program that aims to save the Tasmanian devil from extinction. Since the start of the charity in 2011, Devils Ark have successfully bred over 180 healthy joeys.
Rainforestation is also proudly party of the ‘Save the Tasmanian Devil Foundation’, the official response to the threat of the extinction of the Tasmanian Devil due to the horrific Devil Facial Tumour Disease. Devastatingly, 90% of the wild population has died due to the disease since its first detection in 1996.