The Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is a marsupial mammal from Tasmania, Australia. It is a dasyurid.
The Tasmanian Devil has black fur with irregular white patches on its chest and rump. It has a muscular build with a large head, thick neck, and a medium-sized thick tail. Similar to a hyena, its front legs are slightly longer than its back legs. It has five long toes on its front feet and four toes on its back feet, with long non-retractable claws. It has long whiskers on its face.
It is the size of a small dog, but it is the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world. It grows to about 65 centimetres (26 inches) long. Its tail is about 25 centimetres (10 inches) long.
It can run quite fast over short distances, swim, and climb trees. It is crepuscular, because it is mainly active at dawn and dusk.
Its jaws are very strong and powerful, enabling it to crush bones and tear meat from its prey. Its jaws and teeth are similar to a hyena’s jaws and teeth. It can hold food with its toes, and dig for food with its claws. It has excellent hearing and sense of smell for hunting.
It makes circuits, or laps, of its home regularly – it runs in circles looking for food. It eats small kangaroos, wombats, possums, small mammals, sheep, birds, fish, reptiles, vegetation, and carcasses.
It lives throughout Tasmania in Australia, preferring dry to medium-rainfall forests and coastal woodlands.
The Tasmanian Devil is general solitary, but it eats with others in a small group of 2-5 individuals. They do not form packs. They live in dens, or burrows in the ground, or in caves.
Females have a backward opening pouch, and are pregnant for about 21 days, before giving birth to about 20 young, called pups, imps, or joeys. Competition for survival means that usually only 4 pups survive in the pouch.
The young are pink and without fur when they are born. They usually have all of their fur when they are 3 months old. The pups are independent at about 9 months old.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM