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Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil
Photographer: Wayne McLean

Tasmanian Devil
Photographer: Wayne McLean

Tasmanian Devil Range Map (Tasmania, Australia)
Tasmanian Devil Range Map
(Tasmania, Australia)

Latin Name Sarcophilus harrisii
Conservation Status Endangered
Location Tasmania, Australia
Colour Black
Length 52 - 80 cm (20.5 - 32 inches)
Tail 23 - 30 cm (9 - 12 inches)
Weight 4 - 12 kgs (8.75 - 26 lbs)
Life Expectancy Up to 6 Yrs (in Wild)

Main Characteristics

Tasmanian Devils are the largest carnivorous marsupial. They have a body length between 52 and 80 cms (20.5 - 32 inches), a tail length between 23 and 30 cms (9 - 12 inches) and they weigh between 4 and 12 kgs (8.75 - 26 lbs).

Their coat is black in colour with a white patch on their throat and spots on their sides and rump.
They have a stocky build with an extremely large head. Their jaw is strong and they have heavy molar teeth that are well adapted for their diet.

They store fat in their tail so an unhealthy animal usually has a thin tail. Their long whiskers help them locate prey when foraging in the dark or aid in detecting when other devils are close during feeding. When they become agitated they can produce a pungent odour that is strong enough to rival that of a skunk.

Tasmanian Devils have good senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. They have a range of vocalizations that they use to communicate, which include a spine-chilling screech and aggressive growls, as well as physical gestures such as yawning and raising their tails.


Tasmanian Devils are found in a variety of habitats in Tasmania, Australia. They are mainly solitary and they occupy territories of 8 - 20 Sq. Kms (3 - 7.7 Sq. miles). They are active at night and spend their days hiding in a den or dense bush.


Tasmanian Devils are opportunistic predators but they eat carrion more often than they hunt live prey. They feed on small mammals, birds, fish, frogs and reptiles but their diet is varied and they will eat whatever is available.

They eliminate all traces of a carcass, they even consume bones and fur. On average they eat about 15% of their body weight each day but they can eat up to 40% of their body weight in 30 minutes if the opportunity arises.

They are known for their rowdy, communal feeding which can often be heard several kilometers away.


Tasmanian Devils mate in March and after a gestation period of 21 days, 2 - 3 young are born in April. The young are born into their mother's rear opening pouch where they remain, attached to a teat, for 4 months. After this period they begin to venture out of the pouch and they are moved to a den. When they reach 5 - 6 months old they are weaned and they become independent at 8 months old. They become sexually mature at 2 years of age.


Tasmanian Devils have few natural predators but smaller individuals may fall prey to eagles, owls and spotted tail quolls.

Interesting Facts

Tasmanian Devils are often referred to simply as devils.

Tasmanian Devils are probably best known internationally as the inspiration for the Loony Tunes cartoon character "The Tasmanian Devil" or "Taz".

The Tasmanian Devil is the symbol of the Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) has ravaged the devils in Tasmania. It is estimated that it has caused a 20 - 50% decline in population with over 65% of Tasmania affected.

Similar Animals

Western Quoll
Northern Quoll

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