Tasmanian devil, animal: description, distribution, lifestyle


Marsupial animalsas everyone knows, live in Australia, New Guinea and the surrounding islands. The exception is the American opossums. The marsupials are closer to the primitive beasts that fed their offspring in bags on the belly.

In the process of struggle for existence, mammals with complete intrauterine development won, as they were born stronger, developed better and exceeded those who stayed for a short time in the womb of the mother and fed on milk in her bag for a long time.

Better-adapted mammals have driven out marsupials on all continents, with the exception of Australia. Why they survived there and why it happened so - no one has so far been able to convincingly explain.

One of these wonders is marsupial, or tasmanian devil (and this is a scientific name, not a nickname). It is a small predator, similar to a bear cub, with a body about 70 cm long. It has an unusually large gallop, a wide bulldog muzzle and large ears covered with hair outside, and the inside is completely bare, whose pink skin contrasts with black hair.

His naked also nose, lips, and almost bare tip of the face. Its tail looks like a large carrot: thick at the base, with a sharp end. A white collar and two white spots stand out on the chest of the beast.

This is the portrait of the Tasmanian devil, who got its name not because of its scary appearance, but because it is considered the most rabid and aggressive creature in the world.

Such a reputation, he most likely owes the testimony of hunters struck by wild rage, which defends this clumsy-looking beast. And since it is rarely found, such a characteristic was subsequently simply retold or reprinted many times.

The reputation of the poor devil firmly stuck to him. And only in the thirties of the last century, when the first specimens of these marsupials appeared in zoos, it became clear that it was built on random and incorrect observations. These devils are tamed no worse than other animals, even if they fall into bondage as adults.

But upon closer acquaintance with them, it turns out that a very unpleasant smell emanates from them. In habits the marsupial devil resembles a hyena - it feeds on carrion. All this pushes away from him a man who unwittingly ascribes to a nasty little creature all sins indiscriminately.

It should be said that the devil's food is not only carrion, he eats everything: frogs, insects, and even poisonous snakes. In addition to gluttony, this animal differs in illegibility in food - in its excrement they found echidna needles, pieces of rubber, silver foil, pieces of leather shoes and harness, dishcloths and undigested carrots and corn cobs.

His hunting excitement manifested itself in one amusing case: when the male devil ran into the open doors of the house and tried to drag the cat dormant on the fireplace.

Another reason why hunters dislike him is his ability to spoil snares. With his strong teeth, he is able to gnaw through even iron rods.

The Tasmanian devil is nocturnal, but at the same time he behaves very noisily: a beast swimming in the water can be heard over 25 meters. Just loudly, having forgotten about any caution, the devil males scream during fights, their wild cries spread far and wide in the silence of the night.

As for the offspring, the name "devil" seems to be the most appropriate here, because the males happen to eat their young, and even at that moment when they, completely helpless, appear from the mother's bag. Devilish, let's face it, care. However, we must remember that such a phenomenon as eating offspring in the animal world is not so rare, for example, in domestic pigs.

But at that moment, when the marsupial devil arranges a “family nest,” the male works on a par with the female. In the pits of trees turned out with the root, in the hollows of fallen trunks, future parents line the bottom with bark, grass and leaves. The number of calves, which will appear in late May - early June, reaches four, and the same number of mother's nipples in a bag.

For the first time, the offspring of the marsupial devil was able to get in captivity in the 40s of the last century. In early June, in the bag of the female, which was kept with the male, four small pink, naked and blind creatures appeared, barely one and a half centimeters long. After seven weeks, they had grown to eight centimeters, they were already moving their legs and giving a voice.

At the age of one and a half months, they were overgrown with black hair, but only at the age of fifteen weeks they finally broke away from their mother's nipples, which they held so far continuously. They opened their eyes and at the eighteenth week began to crawl out of the bag and show interest in the games. At the slightest danger, however, they huddled close to their mother, trying to get into the bag on their own.

As shown by further observations, in captivity these animals do not live long - on the strength of seven years.

But why does the marsupial devil dwell not in Australia, like all marsupials, but on a small island south of this continent? As the fossils showed, he used to live in Australia, like the second marsupial predator - the marsupial wolf, but was ousted from there in ancient times. Unknown to anyone brought to Tasmania, it is preserved only on this relatively small piece of land.

Tasmanian devils caused a lot of trouble to European settlers, ruining chicken coops, eating animals trapped, and allegedly attacking lambs and sheep, because of which these animals are actively pursued. In addition, the meat of the marsupial devil was edible and, according to the claims of the colonists, it tasted like veal.

By June 1941, when the law was passed to protect the Tasmanian devil, he was on the verge of extinction. However, unlike the marsupial wolf, extinct in 1936, the population of marsupial devils was restored.

The greatest danger to the devils in our time is a contagious tumor. The first fatal disease called devil facial tumour disease (the disease of facial neoplasms of the devil, "the facial tumor of the devil"), or DFTD, was registered in 1999. Over the past period, according to various estimates, from 20 to 50% of the population of marsupial devils died, mainly in the eastern part of the island.

There is currently no cure for DFTD. To restore the population of young devils are grown in special nurseries and then released into the wild.

Tasmanian devil - aggressive marsupial

Most of us associate this animal primarily with a cartoon character. In fact, this animal is as uncontrollable as its fabulous counterpart. But the facts show that even one individual in just one night can kill up to 60 pieces of poultry.

Tasmanian devils are peculiar animals. These are small marsupials with characteristics like a rat, sharp teeth and thick black or brown hair. The animal is short, but do not be deceived: it is a very fighting creature and is quite frightening.

Description of the Tasmanian Devil

The real Tasmanian devil, in fact, is completely different from the famous cartoon character. It is not of such size and does not create a storm near the surroundings, like a twisted tornado. The Tasmanian Devil has a length of from 51 to 79 centimeters and weighs only from 4 to 12 kg. These animals show sexual dimorphism: males are larger than females. Their life expectancy is on average 6 years.

It is the largest carnivorous marsupial, present in existence. The body of the beast is strong, strong and disproportionate: the big head, the tail is almost half the length of the body of the animal. This is where most of the fat accumulates, so healthy individuals have very thick and long tails. On the front paws of the beast there are five fingers: four simple and one directed to the side. This feature allows them to keep food in their paws. On the hind limbs, four fingers with very long and sharp claws.

The animal - Tasmanian devil - has very strong jaws, resembling hyena jaws in their structure. They have protruding canines, four pairs of upper incisors and three lower ones. The beast can open its jaw a width of 80 degrees, this allows it to generate a very large bite force. Because of this, he is able to eat a whole carcass and thick bones.


The Tasmanian devil lives on Tasmania in Australia, covering about 35,042 square miles (90,758 square kilometers). Although these animals can live anywhere on the island, they prefer coastal shrubs and dense and dry forests. Often drivers can meet them on the roads where the devils eat carrion. Because of this, they often die under the wheels of cars. Road signs warning drivers about the possibility of a Tasmanian devil are very common in Tasmania. But no matter what area of ​​the island these animals inhabit, they sleep under stones or in caves, hollows or holes.

There is one thing in common between an animal and a cartoon character of the same name: a bad temperament. When the devil feels threatened, he turns into anger, in which he growls, rushes and grins his teeth. He also publishes otherworldly, terrible screams, which can seem very daunting. The latter feature can be explained by the fact that the Tasmanian devil is a lonely animal.

This unusual beast is nocturnal: it sleeps during the day and stays awake at night. This feature can be explained by their desire to avoid predators dangerous for them - eagles and people. At night, while hunting, he can cover a distance of more than 15 km thanks to his long hind limbs. The Tasmanian devil also has a long mustache, allowing him to navigate the terrain well and look for prey, especially at night.

The habit of hunting at night is explained by their ability to see everything in black and white. Therefore, they respond well to movement, but have problems with a clear vision of fixed objects. Their most developed feeling is hearing. They also have a well-developed sense of smell - they smell smells at a distance of more than 1 km.

Interesting fact

Young devils are able to climb well and stick to trees, but with age, this ability is lost. Most likely, this is the result of the adaptation to the environmental conditions of the Tasmanian devils, whose lifestyle is also marked by cases of cannibalism. During strong hunger, adults can eat the young, which, in turn, are protected by climbing trees.

Power Features

As already mentioned, Tasmanian devils are carnivorous animals. Most of the time they eat birds, snakes, fish and insects. Sometimes even a small kangaroo can become their victim. Often, instead of hunting live animals, they feast on dead carcasses called carrion. Sometimes several animals may gather near one carcass, and then fights between them are inevitable. While eating, they absorb everything without loss: they eat the bones, hair, internal organs and muscles of their prey.

The favorite food of the Tasmanian devil, due to its high fat content, is the wombat. But the animal may well enjoy other mammals, fruits, frogs, tadpoles and reptiles. Their diet depends primarily on the availability of dinner. At the same time they have a very good appetite: a day they can eat food equal to half their weight.

Reproduction and offspring

Tasmanian devils usually mate once a year in March. Females very carefully choose a partner, and the latter for their attention can arrange real fights. The female has a gestation period of about three weeks, and children are born in April. A litter can make up to 50 cubs. Young devils are pink and hairless, the size of a rice grain, their weight is about 24 grams.

Breeding Tasmanian devils is closely linked to strong competition. At birth, the young individuals are in the mother's bag, where they compete for one of her four nipples. Only these four will have a chance to survive, others die due to malnutrition. Cubs remain in the mother's bag for four months. As soon as they come out, the mother carries them on her back. After eight or nine months, the devils grow up completely. Tasmanian devils live from five to eight years.

Conservation status

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Red List of Endangered Species, the Tasmanian devil is under the threat of extinction, its number is decreasing every year. In 2007, the IUCN estimated that the spread of the Tasmanian devil is reduced. Then there were about 25,000 adult individuals.

The population of this animal, since 2001, has declined by at least 60% due to a cancerous tumor called facial neoplastic disease (DFTD). DFTD causes a swelling on the face of the beast, making it harder for it to eat normally. Ultimately, the animal dies of hunger. This is an infectious disease, because of which the species was on the verge of extinction. Today there is a program to save the devil - a movement created by the initiative of Australia and the Tasmanian government to save animals from a terrible disease.

What does a marsupial devil look like?

The Tasmanian Devil is the largest modern marsupial predator. The marsupial devil has a dense massive constitution from 50 to 80 centimeters in length. Tail length of 23-30 centimeters. Fat accumulates in the animal's tail, which is burned when the devil cannot find food for a long time. As a rule, males are larger than females. Male can weigh up to 12 kg. One of the interesting features of the structure of the animal is that its fat reserves accumulate in the tail, so its thickness can be judged on the fatness of the animal. When the Tasmanian devil is starving, the tail becomes very thin. Due to its massive and dense physique, the Tasmanian devils resemble small bears. Their hair is short, black and thick, the inner surface of the ears is red.

Devil's marsupial is called because the female animal has a horseshoe-shaped skin fold, resembling a bag.

Lifestyle and Biology

The animal's powerful jaw allows it to easily crack and split bones, which speaks of the excellent qualities of the hunter. The marsupial devil feeds on small animals and birds. It can be seen on the coast looking for small inhabitants of reservoirs.

The main part of his food are dead animals. Eating carrion, the marsupial devil performs a very important for nature function of a nurse. This animal is active mainly at night, and during the day it hides in abandoned canyons and dense bushes.

The marsupial devils climb the trees well and swim. Basically, these animals live alone, and gather in groups only with the division of prey. The marsupial devils secure a certain territory for themselves and tend to bypass their possessions in search of loot.

These animals, along with their militancy, have an interesting feature: at the sight of danger, they, like a skunk, can surround themselves with an unpleasant smell, protecting themselves from enemies.

Reproduction begins at the end of the second year of life. The mating season starts in March - April. Pregnancy lasts for 21 days, after which 20-30 babies are born. The mass of a newborn is only 0.18–0.24 g. However, only four of the litter are destined to survive: in the female’s bag there are only four nipples to which the babies will attach for the next 100 days. Since the bag of Tasmanian devils opens from behind, the female is not able to communicate with the cubs: they are left to themselves. Kids leave the bag at the age of about four months, but about half a year they are periodically fed with mother's milk. During the day, the Tasmanian devil consumes a quantity of food equal to 15% of the mass of his body.

Listed in the Red Book

From the very beginning of the acquaintance of a person with this beast, the first one had the wrong impression of bloodthirstiness and the danger of a marsupial devil for livestock, which led to its widespread extermination by farmers.

Today, the number of the marsupial, or Tasmanian, devil does not exceed 20 thousand adult individuals, and it continues to decline. By 1941, he was on the verge of extinction, but the ban on his extermination gave him another chance. Using it, the Tasmanian devil reached in a couple of years a number of several tens of thousands of individuals.

In 1950, a new threat loomed over - a disease and death from a facial tumor, which crippled more than 70% of the Tasmanian devils population. Scientists have found that the disease is viral in nature and repeats at intervals of 70–140 years. A new outbreak of the deadly disease occurred in the 1990s. This time, she took with her about 80% of the total number of the species, and the Tasmanian devil again faced the threat of extinction. Only the decisive actions of the authorities to isolate sick animals stopped the epidemic.

It is interesting

In 2009, in order to attract the attention of the general public to the problem of preserving the Tasmanian devil, the developers of the new version of Linux replaced the famous emblem of the penguin Tux with the emblem of a rare animal named Ace.

Listen to the Tasmanian (marsupial) Devil's voice

Если внимательно приглядеться, то у дьявола довольно симпатичная мордочка, шкурка ухоженная, они умываются, смачивают ладошки слюной и протирают свой мех. Внешний вид дьявола, если совершенно не знать о его проказах, не производит отталкивающего впечатления на людей.

Externally, the animal does not look like the devil.

Previously, no one studied the habits of this animal, and only when he became a rare animal, scientists have compiled a description of the external signs and characteristics of the behavior of the devil. At the same time, interesting facts came to light: adult animals are very caring parents, they have to work hard to raise their young. After all, the newborn baby, which was born, has a body size a little more than a centimeter, while her parents reach a body length of more than half a meter. So the baby has to sit in the bag of the mother until his eyes open and there is at least some sort of hairline.

The marsupial devils are good parents. Mother takes care of the offspring, carrying him in a bag.

Cubs can not be more than 4, since the parent has only four nipples with milk. In two months, babies gain weight so quickly that they weigh 7 times more before they are born. And only when they reach six months, young animals leave the bag. Parents watch the young generation for a long time, take care, arrange a cozy nest of grass, feed them with milk, and of course, protect them from enemies.

Description and appearance

Animal Tasmanian devil - predatory marsupial mammals. This is the only representative of this kind. Scientists have managed to establish a relationship with the marsupial wolf, but it is expressed rather weakly.

Tasmanian marsupial devil - medium-sized predator, about the size of an average dog, that is 12-15 kilograms. The height at the withers is 24-26 centimeters, less often 30. Externally, you might think that this is an awkward animal because of asymmetrical paws and a rather full build. However, it is a very clever and successful predator. This is facilitated by very strong jaws, powerful claws, his keen eyesight and hearing.

It is interesting! The tail deserves special attention - an important sign of animal health. If it is covered with thick hair and very thick, then the Tasmanian marsupial devil is well nourished and completely healthy. Moreover, the animal uses it as a fat accumulator for difficult times.

Habitat of the marsupial devil

Modern representatives of such an animal as the marsupial devil are found only on the territory of the island of Tasmania. Formerly on the list of Australian animals and the Tasmanian devil. Approximately 600 years ago, it was quite common its inhabitants, who inhabited the continental part of the continent and were quite a large species.

After the aborigines brought dingo dogs, which actively hunted the Tasmanian devil, their population decreased. The settlers from Europe didn’t treat these animals any better. The Tasmanian marsupial devil constantly ravaged the chicken coops, and also caused significant damage to rabbit farms. Often raids of predators took place on the young sheep and soon a real war of extermination was declared on this petty bloodthirsty thug.

The Tasmanian devil almost met the fate of other animals, completely exterminated by man. Only by the middle of the twentieth century the extermination of this rare species of animals was stopped. In 1941, a law was passed banning the hunting of these predators.. Thanks to this, today it has been possible to successfully restore the population of such an animal as the marsupial devil.

Understanding the danger of human proximity, cautious animals usually settle in inaccessible areas. They live mainly in central and western parts of Tasmania. They live mainly in forest areas, savannahs and near pastures, and are also found in mountainous, hard-to-reach areas.

Tasmanian Devil Lifestyle

Animal marsupial devil leads a single nocturnal lifestyle. It is not tied to a certain territory, so they calmly relate to the appearance of strangers at the place of residence. During the day, as a rule, they are inactive and prefer to sleep in burrows, which are built in the roots of trees from branches and leaves. If the situation allows and there is no danger, they can go out into the air and bask in the sun.

In addition to burrows built independently, they can be occupied by strangers or abandoned by other animals. Rare conflicts between animals arise solely because of the food that they do not want to share with each other.

At the same time, they emit terrible cries that spread over several kilometers. The Tasmanian devil's cry deserves special attention. These sounds can be compared with a rattle mixed with howls. Especially creepy and ominous is the cry of the marsupial devil, when these animals gather in flocks and give joint "concerts".

Nutrition, main diet

The Tasmanian marsupial devil is a ferocious predator.. If you compare the strength of the bite with the size of the animal, then this small animal will be the champion in strength of the jaws.

It is interesting! Among the interesting facts about the Tasmanian devil is the way of hunting this animal: he immobilizes his victim by eating the spine or biting through the skull. It feeds mainly on small mammals, snakes, lizards, and if especially lucky to hunt, then small river fish. Less carrion, if the carcass of a dead animal is large, then several marsupial predators may gather for a feast.

At the same time there are conflicts between kinsfolk, often comes to bloodshed and serious injuries.

Tasmanian devil and interesting facts about the food of this predator.

It is interesting! This is a very voracious animal, extremely illegible in food, in its secretions, scientists were able to detect rubber, rags and other inedible objects. While other animals usually eat from 5% to 7% of the mass of their weight, the Tasmanian devil can devour at a time up to 10%, or even 15%. In case the animal is really very hungry, it can eat up to half of its weight.

It also makes it a kind of champion among mammals.


By puberty, the marsupial devils reach two years of age. Pregnancy lasts three weeks. The mating period falls on March-April.

It is interesting! There are also very interesting facts in the breeding method of the Tasmanian devil. After all, litters of females are born to 30 tiny cubs, each the size of a large cherry. Immediately after being born, clinging to the fur, they crawl into the bag. Since females have only four nipples, not all cubs survive. Those cubs who could not survive, the female eats, so natural selection works.

The Tasmanian devil's cubs come out of the bag at about four months. From mother's milk to adult food go on reaching eight months. Despite the fact that the animal the marsupial devil is one of the most prolific mammals, not all live to adulthood, but only 40% of the brood, or even less. The fact is that young animals that have entered adulthood often do not withstand competition in the wild and become prey to larger ones.

Diseases of the marsupial devil

The main disease from which the animal marsupial devil suffers is the facial swelling. According to scientists in 1999, about half of the population in Tasmania died from this disease. In the first stage, the tumor affects the areas around the jaw, then goes over the entire face and spreads to the whole body. Its origin and how this disease is transmitted is still unknown for sure, despite the best efforts of scientists.

But it has already been proven that the death rate from such a tumor reaches 100%. No less an enigma for researchers is the fact that, according to statistics, the cancer epidemic among these animals repeats regularly every 77 years.

Population status, animal protection

Export of the Tasmanian marsupial devil abroad is prohibited. Due to population growth, the issue of assigning the status of a vulnerable to this unique animal, which previously belonged to the endangered, is currently being considered. Thanks to the laws passed by the authorities of Australia and Tasmania, the number was restored.

The last sharp decrease in the population of the marsupial predator was recorded in 1995, then the number of these animals decreased by 80%, it happened because of a massive epidemic that broke out among the Tasmanian marsupial devils. Prior to this, similar was observed in 1950.

Buy Tasmanian Tasmanian Devil

The last marsupial predator officially exported to the USA died in 2004. Now their export is prohibited and therefore it is impossible to buy the Tasmanian devil as a pet if you want to do it in an honest way.. There are no nurseries either in Russia or in Europe or in America. According to unofficial data, you can buy a marsupial devil for $ 15,000. However, this should not be done, the animal may be sick, because there will be no authentic documents for it.

If you still managed to acquire such a pet one way or another, then you should get ready for a number of problems. In captivity, they behave aggressively to both humans and other domestic animals. The Tasmanian marsupial devil can attack both adults and young children. They start screaming and hissing threateningly even from minor irritants. Anything can even enrage him, even a simple stroking, and his behavior is completely unpredictable. Given the strength of the jaws, they can cause serious injury even to a person, and a small dog or cat can be seriously injured or nibbled.

At night, the animal is very active, can imitate hunting, and the Tasmanian devil's heart-rending cry is unlikely to please your neighbors and household members. The only thing that can facilitate and simplify its maintenance is unpretentiousness in nutrition. In food, they are illegible and consume everything, literally it can be scraps from the table, something that has already gone bad can be given different types of meat, eggs and fish. It often happens that the animals steal and clothing items that are also eaten. Despite the terrible cry and bad character, the Tasmanian marsupial devil tame well and loves to sit in the arms of his beloved master for hours.