The Tasmanian Devil, Sarcophilus harrisii, is about the size of a small to medium sized Dog.
The Tasmanian Devil now only lives wild in Tasmania and a few smaller islands. It used to live on the Mainland as well. They probably became extinct on Critter Control Orlando the mainland about 400 years back. This was before European settlement. Competition with feral Dingos may have been among the causes of its extinction.
Largest Carnivorous Marsupial
The Tasmanian Devil is the largest 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 the badly named Salt Water Crocodile.
Although the Devil will certainly hunt, it’s largely a scavenger. It does an important job on farms, eating any dead animals. The very strong jaws let it eat all parts of the animal including bones. If a large animal dies there can be a number of those scavengers round the carcase making very alarming noises. Their prey includes Wallabies such as the Tasmanian Pademelon. They’ll eat whatever animal they can catch or find like reptiles, birds, amphibians, insects and items washed up on the beach.
For over a hundred years this animal, together with the Thylacine was shot, trapped and poisoned. The Thylacine is now probably extinct, and it seemed that the Devil was heading the same way. In 1941 it had been given complete protection under the law. The numbers steadily increased until the 1990’s. Then they were hit by a catastrophic disease.
This fatal disease causes cancers around the creature’s mouth, face, neck and occasionally other parts 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 this iconic animal are decreasing.
Foxes have to Tasmania. So far they are only present at low densities, but if they’re permitted to increase their impact on the Devils is unknown, but potentially disastrous. On the mainland they’ve contributed to the extinction of several species.