The Tasmanian Devil

The Tasmanian Devil

Yes, the Tasmanian devil lives in Tasmania but this was not always the case.

Way back in time when Tasmania was part of mainland Australia these marsupials roamed throughout the whole continent. It is believed that the introduction of the Dingo drove them to isolation in Tasmania. Other marsupials include Kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and koalas and some fierce meat-eaters such as the Tasmanian devil and spotted-tailed quoll. It was once home to many more carnivorous marsupials; including the Tasmanian tiger (some believe it is not extinct).

Tasmanian devils are nocturnal so they hunt at night and spend the day in their den or hollow log. They love to eat dead animals which are helpful as it keeps the bush clean. Their diet consists of birds, small animals and reptiles. The devils have strong jaws that bite through bones and teeth that rip at the flesh. Their claws are sharp and powerful. Male devils are 652 mm in length and the females 570 mm. Male devils weight up to 12 kg and females up to 10 kg. Devils can retain fat in their tails to keep up nutrition when there is little food. A male Tasmanian devil is capable of consuming one quarter of its own body weight in one feeding session. They have dark fur with distinctive white markings which makes it easy to identify individuals. Females commonly raise two young at a time. Joeys live in the pouch for four months. Once they emerge they remain in the den for a further few months before they leave to learn survival skills.

Devils are found in northern, eastern and central Tasmania. They have a rocking movement when running and a top speed of 13 kilometers per hour. There is an ongoing effort to save the Tasmanian devil from a rare, infectious cancer. This is an unusual cancer in that it is directly transmissible. The devils bite and snarl which makes the condition travel fast through the population. A pilot trial of a new drug has led to success in a handful of animals. In 2010 Biotics was keen to test their drug which had been successful in treating tumors of domestic animals. The drug has been effective in ridding cancer for small and early lesions. Giving the drug to an infected mother can extend her life and give her a chance to wean healthy pups and teach them survival skills. The people looking for a cure noticed a particular plant which the rat-kangaroo was eating. This plants seeds were used to investigate its properties and to develop a cure for cancer. This is not a permanent cure as the devils can be reinfected. This cancerous disease has reduced the population by 70%.

The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program (STDP) is an initiative of the Tasmanian government. A governing steering committee, comprised of national and state representatives, coordinates research and conservation efforts. The first stage was to establish a group of 250 Tasmanian devils to be held among 18 zoos and fauna parks, both on the mainland and Tasmania. In addition at least 500 devils will comprise the second stage to be held in a “free-range” enclosure

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2017-08-10T16:07:50+00:00