Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisiia)

Endagered Species Classification

Extinct in the Wild
Critically Endangered
Conservation Dependent

The main threat to the survival of the Tasmanian Devil is the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). This infectious, spreading cancer that has been associated with local population declines of up to 90% since first reported.

FAME in partnership with leading wildlife experts from The Australian Reptile Park established Devil Ark. Set in NSW’s Hunter Valley it has the largest mainland population of Tasmanian Devils. The vision is to create a large population of healthy Tasmanian Devils which in the long term can be used to repopulate Tasmania.

Appearance: The Tasmanian Devil is a distinctive black, or very dark brown, with a white band across the chest.  The head is dog-like and the ears are large and pinkish-red in colour.

Size: The typical male Tasmanian devil grows to a total length of around 90cm including the tail and weighs over 8kg. Females rarely exceed 80cm in length and 6kg in weight.

Diet: Despite its formidable reputation, most of the diet is carrion (animals that are already dead). They have an exceptionally acute sense of smell enabling the animals to locate dead food items from many kilometres away.

Adult devils will also tackle anything as large as a small wallaby but they are by no means an agile or speedy hunter. Smaller animals, such as insects, lizards and fish are also eaten. The jaws of a Tasmanian Devil are extremely powerful and can break even the largest bones, all of which are eaten.

Behaviour: The Tasmanian devil is solitary but not territorial, with a home range of up to 20 square kilometres in size that may overlap with the ranges of several others. Several adults may congregate at a carcass and feed together, although much squabbling and growling usually takes place.

Did You Know?
Tasmanian devils were once widespread over much of mainland Australia, but are now only found in Tasmania. This is most probably as a result the introduction of the dingo, which never reached Tasmania.

Last updated March 2012