SPECIES SARCOPHILUS HARRISI
Devils, as they are affectionately called, resemble a small squat, thick set black dog, with a large solid muscular head, short muzzle and short limbs with its forelegs longer than the hind legs. They have dense black fur with random white patches on their chest and sometimes on shoulders and posterior. Fur is sparse on the muzzle, ears and eyes exposing their pink skin.
Devils are found throughout Tasmania in habitats such as dry forest, coastal woodland as well as outer suburban areas. They shelter in dens in dense bush, hollow logs, caves and even abandoned animal burrows.
Tasmanian Devils are nocturnal and crepuscular (active in twilight). They can scavenge as well as hunt, making them excellent vacuum cleaners, similar to the roles Hyenas play in African and Asian ecosystems. They feed on a variety of live animals and carcasses including invertebrates, as well as small wallabies. They are known to patrol roads for road kill and beaches for washed up animals. Their powerful jaws make short work of most food items and very little is left. The only tell a tale sign from a devil feed is usually some fur and the intestines, which are delicately removed and discarded.
Devils breed at two years of age. Females give birth to 40 possibly more, undeveloped grain sized young that find their way into the pouch. Only four will survive the journey as there are only four teats in the pouch.
Did you know that when agitated, a Tasmanian devil’s opaque ears turn a deep red colour and at night if you surprise them by shining a light at them, the ears look like two little devil horns!