The Tasmanian Devil, Sarcophilus harrisii, is about the size of a small to medium sized Dog. A large male can weigh up to about 12 kilograms (26 pounds).
The Tasmanian Devil now only lives wild in Tasmania and a few smaller islands. It used to reside on the Mainland as well. They probably became extinct on Animal Control Orlando the mainland about 400 years ago. Competition with feral Dingos may have been one of the causes of its extinction.
Largest Carnivorous Marsupial
The Tasmanian Devil is the biggest Marsupial Carnivore. This also means that it’s the biggest carnivorous Mammal native to Australia still in Existence. When Europeans first came to Australia, there was one Carnivorous Marsupial larger. Of course there are larger Carnivores in Australia. The biggest one is that the badly named Salt Water Crocodile.
Although the Devil will certainly hunt, it is largely a scavenger. It does an important job on farms, eating any dead animals. The very strong jaws let it eat all areas of the animal including the bones. If a big animal dies there may be a number of these scavengers round the carcase making quite alarming noises. Their prey includes Wallabies such as the Tasmanian Pademelon. They’ll eat whatever animal they can catch or find like birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and items washed up on the shore.
For more than a hundred years this creature, along with the Thylacine was shot, trapped and poisoned. The Thylacine is now probably extinct, and it seemed that the Devil was going the same way. In 1941 it had been given total protection under the law. The numbers steadily increased until the 1990’s. Then they were hit by a catastrophic disease.
Devil Facial Tumour Disease
This fatal disease causes cancers around the creature’s mouth, face, neck and sometimes other areas of the body. Where the devil population is large, as much as 90 percent of those animals are dying. In lower population density areas, the mortality rate is more like 50 percent. The numbers of the iconic animal are decreasing.
Foxes have got to Tasmania. Up to now they’re only present at low densities, but if they’re allowed to improve their effect on the Devils is unknown, but potentially devastating. On the mainland they’ve contributed to the extinction of several species.