One of the scariest animals in Australia got its name from the last territory it still lives in the wild, the island state of Tasmania. In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about Tasmanian Devils.
Related: The Tasmanian Devil is included in our list with 9 of the scariest animals in Australia. In this post, you’ll discover exactly why.
Things to know about Tasmanian Devils
1. The Tasmanian Devil is a carnivorous animal that is defined as a marsupial of the family Dasyuridae. There are still about 75 living species in this family and most are them are small, mouse-like creatures.
2. The animal is only found in the wild on the island state of Tasmania which is located below the South-East of Australia. It’s located about 240 kilometers (150 mi) to the south of the Australian mainland.
3. The Tasmanian Devil used to live on the Australian mainland as well. It is also believed that marsupials, which include the Tasmanian Devil, migrated from South America to Australia during the time of the Gondwana.
During this time, which happened over ten million years ago, Australia and South America were connected making migration possible.
4. The Devil is the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world but hasn’t always been. It only holds this title for about 80 years since the thylacine, also referred to as the Tasmanian Tiger or Tasmanian wolf, was extinct. The thylacine was about twice the size of the Tasmanian Devil.
5. If we would pull a Jurassic Park type of trick, we would be able to revive the thylacine by combining DNA matter from museums with the ova of the Tasmanian Devil. After all, thylacine is the closest relative of the devil.
6. Despite being the largest carnivorous marsupial in existence, Tasmanian Devils are only the size of a small dog. It’s just 20 to 31 inches (51 to 79 centimeters) tall and weighs only 9 to 26 lbs. (4 to 12 kilograms).
7. So why are Tasmanian Devils called Tasmanian Devils? Well, the person who came up with it didn’t have to think too long we imagine. The erratic behavior that devils often display when they feel threatened along with the otherworldly noise they produce makes it a pretty fitting name.
Just check the video below and you’ll understand:
8. The Tasmanian Devil became very popular worldwide because of the Looney Tunes character with the same name. They share a similar characteristic, which is having a very short fuse that turns into aggressive behavior in the blink of an eye.
What’s remarkable though is that “Taz” from the Looney tunes doesn’t resemble the real Tasmanian Devil in any way when it comes to appearance.
9. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the Tasmanian Devil is a solitary creature. After all, who wants to hang out with somebody with a bad temper, right?
10. Devils are also nocturnal animals. They spent most of the day sleeping in a pit, below a rock, in a dense bush, or a cave, and hunt at night. Some scientists believe that the reason they became nocturnal is to avoid conflict with humans and stay safe from predators.
11. While they hunt at night, it’s possible that they travel over 10 miles (16 kilometers). So even though they sleep all day long, they are surely not lazy animals!
12. Even though they are fit to tackle a small kangaroo as a form of prey, they are more opportunistic and lazy when it comes to actually hunt. That’s why they prefer to eat carrion (decaying flesh of dead animals) and probably also explains why they travel so far during the night. When multiple Devils find a carcass, a huge brawl can ensue as well.
13. Apart from carrion, their diet consists of birds, snakes, fish, and insects. They aren’t very picky and this translates into the fact that they devour everything of their prey, including bones, hair, and organs.
14. When the mating season starts, which is usually in March, all hell breaks loose on the island state of Tasmania. The male devils line up to have a good old fight to see who will take the female home. Once a male got himself a female, he will protect her with his life to ensure she remains loyal to him (even though he surely won’t be).
15. Devils don’t have a long and happy life. They reach adulthood when they are just 2 years old and in the wild have an average lifespan of 5 years. The oldest Devil in captivity reached the age of 7 years old.
16. Devils store a lot of their fat in their tails. This means that when you see a Devil with a huge tail, it’s most certainly a healthy one.
17. Reproduction is done on a large scale. The gestation period only lasts about 3 weeks, and 50 babies are born at the same time. One of the most interesting facts about Tasmanian Devils is that the babies are only the size of a grain of rice the moment they are born.
18. Apart from being very small at birth, Devil babies, which are referred to as “imps,” are pink and hairless.
19. A remarkable feature of the Tasmanian Devil is that its front legs are longer than its back legs.
20. Another distinct feature is that the Tasmanian Devil has a very large head and neck compared to its body size. This allows it to have one of the most powerful bites of predatory mammals in the world. It’s so powerful that it can bite straight through metal.
21. The Tasmanian Devil is considered to be an endangered species. Since the late 1990s, a disease has spread amongst Devils called the devil facial tumor disease (DFTD) and has wiped out a large number of devils and is the main cause for the species being in danger of extinction.
22. Another danger for Devils is being killed on the road. Especially at night, they are nearly impossible to spot. A study has shown that about 3-5% of the Devil population is being killed in road accidents every year.
23. To conclude the ultimate list of facts about Tasmanian Devils, here is a list of its taxonomy according to the ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System):
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Subkingdom: Bilateria
- Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
- Superclass: Tetrapoda
- Class: Mammalia
- Subclass: Theria
- Infraclass: Metatheria
- Order: Dasyuromorphia
- Family: Dasyuridae
- Subfamily: Dasyurinae
- Tribe: Dasyurini
- Genus: Sarcophilus
- Species: Sarcophilus
- Subspecies: Sarcophilus harrisii dixonae, Sarcophilus harrisii harrisii