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Tasmanian devil

Tasmanian devil, extremely voracious marsupial, or pouched mammal, of the dasyure family, now found only on the island of Tasmania. The Tasmanian devil, Sarcophilus harrisi, formerly found also in Australia, is about 2 ft (60 cm) long, excluding the 12-in. (30-cm) tail. It has a large head, with powerful jaws, and weak hindquarters. Its blackish fur is marked with white patches on the throat, on each side, and on the rump. The animal has a fierce appearance. It is very strong for its size and preys on animals larger than itself, such as small kangaroos, as well as on rodents, lizards, and other small animals. It lives in burrows in rocky areas.

Like the related thylacine, or Tasmanian wolf, the Tasmanian devil was relentlessly hunted because of its inroads on domestic livestock and poultry. Although it survived in sizable numbers in remote areas of the island, it is now threatened by a fatal facial cancer that has spread steadily and decimated infected populations since the late 1990s. In 2009 the Tasmanian devil was officially declared endangered. A lack of genetic diversity in the marsupial has facilitated the cancer's spread; the recent discovery of a possibly resistant genetically different population in W Tasmania has raised hopes for the species. Efforts are being made to establish a sizable disease-free population on the Australian mainland.

The Tasmanian devil is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Marsupialia, family Dasyuridae.

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Tasmanian devil

Tas·ma·ni·an dev·il / tazˈmānēən; -ˈmānyən/ • n. a heavily built marsupial (Sarcophilus harrisii, family Dasyuridae) with a large head, powerful jaws, and mainly black fur, found only in Tasmania. It is slow-moving and aggressive, feeding mainly on carrion.

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Tasmanian devil

Tasmanian devil Carnivorous marsupial with a bear-like appearance; it is found only in the forest and scrub of Tasmania. It feeds on a wide variety of animal food, including carrion. Length: to 80cm (31in). Species Sarcophilus harrisii.

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Tasmanian devil

Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisi) See DASYURIDAE.

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Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil

The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii ) is the largest surviving marsupial predator, occurring only on the island of Tasmania in dense thickets and forests. The Tasmanian devil is one of about 69 species of marsupial predators that make up the family Dasyuridae.

The Tasmanian devil once occurred widely in Australia and Tasmania. However, the Tasmanian devil became extirpated from Australia following the prehistoric introduction of the dingo (Canis dingo ; this is a placental, wild dog) by aboriginal people, and the species is now confined to the island of Tasmania.

Male Tasmanian devils can attain a body length of 32 in (80 cm) and a tail of 12 in (30 cm), and can weigh more than 20 lb (9 kg). Their pelage is colored dark brown or black, with several white spots on the rump and sides and a pinkish snout. The body is stout and badger like, and the jaws and teeth are strong.

As is the case with all marsupials, young Tasmanian devils are born in an early stage of embryonic development. The tiny babies crawl slowly to a belly pouch (or marsupium) on their mother, where they suckle until they are almost fully grown and ready for an independent life.

Tasmanian devils sleep in a den during the day, located in a hollow log, cave, or another cavity. This species is a fierce, nocturnal predator of smaller animals, and a scavenger of dead bodies, filling a niche similar to those of such placental carnivores as foxes,

cats, badgers, and wild dogs. Tasmanian devils feed on a wide range of species, including domestic chickens and sheep.

Sometimes, individual Tasmanian devils will invade a chicken coop and create havoc there. Unfortunately, this and sheep-killing often turn out badly for the Tasmanian devil in the end. Because many people consider the Tasmanian devil a pest, this extraordinary and uncommon animal is still persecuted over much of its remaining native range. This is highly unfortunate, because the Tasmanian devil is the last of the large marsupial predators, and it is essential that this species survives the human onslaught on its habitat. Although not yet listed as an endangered species, the Tasmanian devil is much reduced in abundance.

Recently a fatal diseasedevil facial tumour disease (DFTD)has been sweeping through Tasmanian devil populations. This disease kills up to 90% of the adults in areas with high population densities and 40 50% of adults in areas with medium to low population densities. The disease is characterized by facial cancers and the animals appear to die within six months of the lesions first appearance. Scientists are currently studying this disease and its impact on Tasmanian devil populations. Laboratory studies seem to indicate that DFTD is an infectious cancer and research is underway to devise ways to combat this serious threat to Tasmanian devils.

Bill Freedman

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Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian devil

The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is the largest surviving marsupial predator , occurring only on the island of Tasmania in dense thickets and forests . The Tasmanian devil is one of about 45 species of marsupial predators that make up the family Dasyuridae.

The Tasmanian devil once occurred widely in Australia and Tasmania. However, the Tasmanian devil became extirpated from Australia following the prehistoric introduction of the dingo (Canis dingo; this is a placental, wild dog) by aboriginal people, and the species is now confined to the island of Tasmania.

Male Tasmanian devils can attain a body length of 32 in (80 cm) and a tail of 12 in (30 cm), and can weigh more than 20 lb (9 kg). Their pelage is colored dark brown or black, with several white spots on the rump and sides and a pinkish snout. The body is stout and badger-like, and the jaws and teeth are strong.

As is the case with all marsupials , young Tasmanian devils are born in an early stage of embryonic development. The tiny babies crawl slowly to a belly pouch (or marsupium) on their mother, where they suckle until they are almost fully grown and ready for an independent life.

Tasmanian devils sleep in a den during the day, located in a hollow log, cave , or another cavity. This species is a fierce, nocturnal predator of smaller animals, and a scavenger of dead bodies, filling a niche similar to those of such placental carnivores as foxes, cats , badgers , and wild dogs. Tasmanian devils feed on a wide range of species, including domestic chickens and sheep .

Sometimes, individual Tasmanian devils will invade a chicken coop and create havoc there. Unfortunately, this and sheep-killing often turn out badly for the Tasmanian devil in the end. Because many people consider the Tasmanian devil a pest, this extraordinary and uncommon animal is still persecuted over much of its remaining native range. This is highly unfortunate, because the Tasmanian devil is the last of the large marsupial predators, and it is essential that this species survives the human onslaught on its habitat . Although not yet listed as an endangered species , the Tasmanian devil is much reduced in abundance.

Bill Freedman

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