Tasmanian devil

‘Taz’, a well-known character of ‘Looney Tunes’ is a Tasmanian devil


Tasmanian devil


‘Taz’, a well-known character of ‘Looney Tunes’ is a Tasmanian devil

Population 10,000 – 25,000
80% decline in its population since the mid-1990s

Tasmanian devils, known for their distinctive black coats and formidable reputation, have long captured the imagination of early European settlers, who were both fascinated and intimidated by these enigmatic creatures. Their fearsome demeanor is accentuated by their piercing screeches, which echo through the Tasmanian wilderness, earning them the moniker “devil” and solidifying their place in local folklore.

Despite their relatively small size, Tasmanian devils possess one of the strongest bites of any mammal, thanks to their powerful jaws and robust muscles. This remarkable biting strength enables them to crush bones with ease, allowing them to consume every part of their prey, from flesh to bone marrow, ensuring nothing goes to waste.

While they may appear clumsy on the ground, Tasmanian devils are surprisingly agile climbers, capable of navigating the branches of trees with dexterity and speed. This arboreal ability expands their range and allows them to access otherwise inaccessible food sources, demonstrating their adaptability to various environments.

In their nightly foraging expeditions, Tasmanian devils can cover considerable distances, traveling up to 16 kilometers (10 miles) in search of food. Their nocturnal habits and wide-ranging movements contribute to their role as apex predators in the Tasmanian ecosystem, where they play a crucial role in maintaining ecological balance by controlling populations of small mammals and scavenging carrion.

Despite their formidable nature, Tasmanian devils face significant threats to their survival, chief among them being the devastating impact of devil facial tumor disease (DFTD). This contagious cancer, first identified in 1996, has decimated devil populations, leading to a precipitous decline in numbers. By 2001, their population had already plummeted by 60%, prompting conservationists to list them as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.


Population est.
Official estimate

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No