Here at Light Future Art, we like to discuss fun facts about unique animals from all over the world. Today’s animal that we’re spotlighting is the Tasmanian Devil. Many of the facts, you probably will be reading here for the first time.
1. The Tasmanian Devil was first classified scientifically by George Harris in 1807. He thought at first that they were bear-like opossums, but later discoveries showed that they were more distantly related to opossums than he thought. After many changes, the Tasmanian Devil’s scientific name became Sarcophilus harrisii. In English, this means “Harris’s flesh-lover”.
2. The Tasmanian Devil is the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial. Most marsupials are herbivorous and mainland Australia has no native apex predator like wolves or bears, but the Tasmanian Devil only eat meat.
3.Tasmanian Devils didn’t always use to live only on the island of Tasmania. They once roamed throughout mainland Australia but about 400 years ago, the introduction of dingoes drove them back to only Tasmania. Some scientists believe that this event actually occurred much earlier, around 3,000 years ago.
4. Sadly, the populations of Tasmanian Devils have been threatened many times in the past, and not always by humans. In the 1800s, they were viewed as a major threat to livestock and humans tried to eradicate them. However, in the 1940s, Australia named them as a protected species. In the late 90s, their numbers greatly dwindled due to a cancer which affects only the Tasmanian Devils. In the early 2000s, the Australian government launched an initiative to stop the spread of the cancer. In the past decade, significant progress has been made in the field of medicine which is helping some Tasmanian Devils recover.
5. They are crepuscular animals, most active at dawn and dusk. To help them navigate in the dark, Tasmanian Devils rely on their highly sensitive whiskers. Although they are not often active in the daylight, they do enjoy laying out in the sun.
6. Though they can sometimes be known to hunt, Tasmanian Devils prefer to scavenge, finding prey which has died naturally or which was killed by someone else. They are solitary animals usually but have no problems eating together in groups. Their feeding rituals look aggressive and are noisy, and this is one of the main reasons why they were called “devils” by Europeans.
7. Mother Tasmanian Devils give birth to a huge litter, usually 20 to 30 offspring at once. The young Tasmanian Devils are called “joeys”, “pups”, or, in reference to their devilish names, “imps”. They live in their mother’s pouch for the first 3 to 4 months of life before moving into the den. It is only around a half year in age that they are able to be completely independent.
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