fascinating Tasmanian devil is a carnivorous, semi-nocturnal creature
whose aggressive nature and wild hissing, growling and screaming earned
it the name. It is the largest meat-eating marsupial, and its
voracious appetite is a thing of legend. While devils are
usually solitary, their excellent noses will often lead several of them
to the same carcass and communal feeding is rather common.
Tasmanian devils have powerful jaws filled with large sharp
teeth, and a feeding group will devour every last
bit of a meal, bones and all. Tasmanian devils are mostly scavengers
and are considered very valuable to the environment as sort of 4-legged
vacuum cleaners. They hunt as well, taking birds, insects and other
small game. Living in woodlands and eucalyptus forest devils
can be seen out and about during daylight hours but do most of their
stalking and scavenging at night. The growls, whines and cantankerous
sounds of the devil are its single most fascinating characteristic and
it really isn't clear why they are so incredibly noisy. The crazy and
popular cartoon character of the same name is quite accurate: massive
head, full body, extra cranky.
Tasmanian Devil Facts
and Tasmanian Devil Information Featuring the -AnimalStats-
Making More Tasmanian Devils
Tasmanian devils are marsupials, like kangaroos and koala bears, which
means that their babies start to develop in the womb, but then move to
a pouch on the mothers abdomen to continue growing. Female Tasmanian
devils come into heat in springtime and the month long mating season is
filled with lots of extreme activity. Males battle each other
viscously for the attention of mature females but it does not end
there. Once the most powerful male sends weaker competition fleeing, he
must prove his worth to his sweetheart. The mating pair will engage in
loud, highly aggressive wrestling sessions and if the female is not
impressed she will move on to another fellow. If the male is powerful
and dominant enough the two will mate several times over the course of
a few days. Both males and females may mate with numerous partners
during the season and it is actually possible for one litter of babies
to have two, three, or even four different fathers. After about three
weeks of pregnancy the female Tasmanian devil finds a comfortable den
and settles in. She
will give birth to as many as 30 tiny babies that
are blind, hairless, and less than the size of a single grain of rice.
They are effectively still just embryos, and must make it to the
mothers pouch in order to continue development. Without their mothers
help, an army of squirming babies crawl through a forest of belly-hair
from the birth canal to the mothers pouch which is a distance of about
4 inches (a long trip for a grain of rice). In a true example of "survival of the fittest" the baby
Tasmanian devils find only four teats in the mothers pouch. The four
that make it to a teat first survive, the rest perish. Four months
later the tough little devils emerge from moms pouch and explore their
world. The sound of a litter of devils play fighting is blood-curdling
and constant, and by the time they are eight months old, they start off
on their own, complaining the whole way.
Tasmanian Devil Facts
A Terrible Health Risk
the late 1990's an unusual cancer began to appear in the wild
populations of Tasmanian devils. Know a s "devil facial tumor
or "DFTD" it has caused a disturbing drop in devil
efforts to find treatments and cures have been positive, but
terrible disease persists and may cause the demise of a truly unique
and fascinating creature. Lets hope not...
The Tasmanian Devil Sneeze
Tasmanian devils are
known for their fieceness but they will often use a few clever
techniques first before resorting to full out combat. When a dispute
finds two devils face to face their skin will flush red turning the
ears crimson. They will gape their impressive jaws at each other,
screaming and growling the whole time. If the situation is stressful
enough the devil will release a musky odor that would clear most rooms.
Finally, they will emit a stacatto sneeze that is sometimes so violent
they loose their footing. If all else fails, its time to rumble and
most devils have the scars to prove it.
A Devils Life in Three Easy Steps:
Like a little mini-lion the Tasmanian devil is a "gorge feeder" filling
up to the brim as long as food is available and then collapsing to
digest the huge meal.
Step One: Scurry about wailing and
complaining till you find something dead. Step Two: Eat till you're
ready to explode.
Step Three: Sprawl out like a bear-skin rug
and process, process, process...
It's not hard to snap a photo of a Tasmanian devil
with its mouth agape - the familiar pose is used in many instances and
expresses everything from joy to rage
to the Tas version of nervous laughter.
A Few More Tasmanian Devil Facts:
The Tasmanian devils jaws open a full 80 degrees and it has
a bite strength of 1200 PSI!
The devil stores fat in its tail so when food is scarce the
tail is narrow and limp, when life is good the tail is fat and happy.
Tasmanian devils spend more time biting each other than any
The huge head, massive neck and powerful jaws allow them to
eat parts of carcasses that others might leave behind - like
The mothers pouch is called a "marsupium", and is where the
word "marsupial" comes from
The Fascinating Truth: Urban Coyote
adaptive coyote population in North America seems unaffected by human
The Urban Coyote has been spotted in Central Park,
N.Y. and (as in this photo) Hollywood Ca.!;