The Tasmanian Devil is Nearing Extinction


The Tasmanian Devil

The name “Devil” implies that this animal is dangerous. The truth is, the Tasmanian Devil is not. They will not attack people; however, they will defend themselves if they are attacked or if they are trapped. Although the Devil looks fierce, it would instead prefer to escape than fight. They do have powerful jaws. If they bite, they can cause serious injury.

The Tasmanian Devil Population

They once had a population of 140,000. This has dropped to as few as 20,000 remaining on earth. They are now classified on the endangered list by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Their numbers are dropping because they eventually starve to death. They are also dying from Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), an aggressive transmissible cancer. During the last decade, it ravaged the animal, causing up to a 100 percent mortality. Once the infectious cancerous tumors appear around the mouth, face, and neck, the Devils usually die within three to six months. DFTD is spread by the transfers of living cancer cells by biting. The animals bite each other, particularly when in fights over mates and food. The Tasmanian has the most powerful bite relative to body size of any living mammalian carnivore. DFTD has also become known as the Devil’s disease.

The Size Of The Tasmanian Devil

The Devil is not a large animal. It is about the size of a dog. It has a stocky and muscular build with black fur. It also puts off a pungent odor and has an extremely loud and obnoxious screech. It is known to have a keen sense of smell and ferocity when feeding. Due to its large head and neck, this allows it to generate among the strongest bites. It hunts its prey, searches for dead flesh from other animals, and eats household products if available. They are usually solitary, although they sometimes eat together. They also defecate in a communal location. Although it has a rotund appearance, it is capable of surprising speed and endurance. It is also capable of climbing trees and swimming across rivers.

Mating Season And The Tasmanian Devil

The Tasmanian Devil is not monogamous. One male will fight another for females. They will guard their partners to prevent female infidelity. The female is capable of ovulating three times in as many weeks during the mating season. A surprising 80 percent of two-year-old females are seen to be pregnant during their annual mating season. The female has an average of four breeding seasons in their life. They usually give birth to 20-30 young ones after just three weeks’ gestation. The newborn are pink, they do not have any fur, and they have indistinct facial features. Their weight is 0.0071 ounces at birth. The female has only four nipples, so the competition is fierce, resulting in few newborns surviving. They grow rapidly and are ejected from the pouch after about 100 days when they weigh about 7.1 ounces. The newborns become independent after about nine months.

The Devil is a well-known animal in Australia, particularly associated with Tasmania. It is used as the emblem of the Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife Service. It was previously used as the emblem for the Victorian Football League known as the Devils. Today the animal faces extinction due to the cancer being transmitted among the animal’s population. Hopefully, this cancer can be stopped, and the population will grow in the future.

The Tasmanian Devil has been around for many years. It has attained a reputation with different meanings. It is hoped that it will have a future growth in population as opposed to more deaths.