Tasmanian Devil


Student for life
Tasmanian Devil

If you are like me, you may have heard of the Tasmanian Devil but are wondering what kind of animal it is. So I thought to do a little write-up based on a visit to a TD Sanctuary in Cradle Mountain National Park.

A nice hairy animal or a devil?

If you see this photo, you may think "how cute". But the animal got its name because of it sudden mood swings and unpredictable behavior. Instantly the TD can change into this:

That looks more like a devil! The jaws are incredibly strong. The devil eats everything of the prey it catches: fur, flesh, bones, everything. The only bones that cannot be crushed by the TD's jaws and teeth are the skull of a wombat.

This one must have been used to design the look of the Orcs in Lord of the Rings. It is one of the older TDs in the sanctuary and over 7 years old.

She can also look like a curious old lady:

Most animals in the sanctuary are kept solitary. This is aonther oldy with some mean teeth and claws:

They sleep a lot:

Although they are 100% anti-social, solitary and are only interested in their own best interest, they tolerate others…when there best interest is not jeopardized. If that is threatened, they fight:

The next moment they relax in the sun:

We saw a movie where 10 month old sons attack their mother to keep the food for their own. Their little sister was also attacked to stay away. But the people at the sanctuary assured us that female TDs are as bad as male TDs! But to survive, a TD has to be aggressive.

The TD is the largest predator in Tamania but a lazy hunter. It prefers to steal the food away from a quoll that just killed a wallaby. This is a quoll. Looks cute but it is vicious!

The keepers are careful not to consider TDs as pets because they may loose their natural fear for humans, see them as competitors and potentially attack them. This little boy proves that:

We also learned that the TDs are basically the “hyena’s” of Tasmania because they clean up carcases, sick animals, and alike. After the decimation of the TD population with 85%, you see a lot more dead wallabies, pedamelons, and other animals on the roads.

The cause of the decimation is a 100% fatal face cancer that was traced back to one TD! They transfer the virus via food and fighting. That is why the Government has established sanctuaries to save the race. There are even signs of a cure for the disease. The plan is to vaccinate the animals in the sanctuaries and to put them back in the wild.

All in all, we were glad we visited a sanctuary to learn more about the TD. It is an ugly, unpredictable, 100% selfish animal that fulfills a very useful function!



Just looking at the photos you can see how parts of these animals have been chewed off by aggressors. Not a happy way to live.


Student for life
I have to pull you up on this, Devils have incredibly complex (and poorly understood) social networks - 'selfishness' is very much a human concept! http://eprints.utas.edu.au/11406/

I used that word based on a discussion with one of the keepers in the sanctuary. Indeed, she also said that it was possible that animals got used to each other which would make mating easier. But...this was only a 2 hour visit so I fully believe. Thank you for adding your remark and the link. Fascinating! There are many animals that we poorly understand.
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