Tasmanian Devil Facts


About the Tasmanian Devil

Australia's smallest state is home to a big wildlife superstar - the country's coolest, and some might say crankiest marsupial, the Tasmanian devil.

Many years ago, about 600 or so, Tasmanian devils also lived in mainland Australia. Now, due to hunting and animal predators, they are only found in a few pockets of the Apple Isle.

The Tasmanian devil's scientific name is Sarcophilus Harrisii.

Sarcophilus means flesh lover, a suitably suitable name for this ravenous carnivore.

Harrisii comes from the person who first described these animals . . . Mr Harris!

So what is life like when you are a Tasmanian devil?

Tasmanian Devils fightingYou've got dark fur with a white stripe . . . which sort of sounds like a skunk. However, unlike skunks, Tasmanian devils have got a bit of an attitude, or so it seems.

They have a pretty ferocious sounding growl and coughing noise which they often make when feeding at night.

In fact, they sound so cranky and crazy, that early settlers thought they sounded like a devil, hence their common name.

Tasmanian devils are pretty serious about their food. They are known as mini-vacuum cleaners because of the way they eat anything and leave nothing behind.

Tasmanian DevilAnd here is a word of warning: You should never disturb a Tasmanian devil when it is eating. Why? Because getting between this marsupial and his meat will result in one very cranky critter.

And if the growling and cranky behavior doesn't help you to see you've upset one of these guys, check out their ears.

Tasmanian devils usually have pink ears. But, make them angry and they don't see red - they hear it as their pink ears turn red. Like other marsupials, Tasmanian devils have a pouch where their young stay safe. The body is up to 80 cm long, and it weighs about 4-12 kgs.

Additionally, their tail measure a bit less than 30 cm. The front legs are longer than its hind legs, which is unusual among marsupials.

They have broad necks and short legs ending in sharp claws.

The tassie devil is powerfully built and has powerful jaws and well developed teeth that can crush the bones of animals it eats.

The devils are not territorial and they spend most of their time alone.

Sadly, these animals are in a bit of trouble. Many are killed by cars and for the past few years, they have also been struck down by a horrible disease called devil facial tumor disease.

This type of cancer is quickly killing the species who now need help from us to ensure their survival - Read more about Tasmanian Devil Cancer

Tasmanian Devil illustration