Many of us around the world first learnt of the ‘Tasmanian Devil’ via Looney Toons.
Despite Taz being one of the most popular characters to come from the animated show in reality he does not share many traits or even look like an actual Tasmanian Devil.
The Tasmanian Devil is the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial and one of the most unique and interesting animals living in Australia which in itself is packed full of animals that you will not find anywhere else in the world.
So if they are the largest carnivorous marsupial do they have any predators?
But before we get to that, let’s learn about these creatures and the environment that they live in, and how they survive in one of the world’s harshest environments.
The Tasmanian Devil
These cuddly creatures have a fur coat of brown or black fur and their stocky physique gives them a similar look of a bear cub.
The majority will have a white patch or long stripe down their chest with some spots on their rear end or side.
Devils have longer front legs than rear which gives them a lumbering gait.
As we have already covered the Tasmanian Devil is the largest carnivorous marsupial they will reach up to 30 inches in length and can weigh upwards of 26 pounds though the size of the marsupial will vary a lot depending on the area that it lives and the current availability of food.
Their head is oversized and is home to sharp teeth and a strong muscular jaw that delivered comprehensively to its size, the strongest bite of any mammal on the planet.
Where Do They Live?
The Tasmanian Devil used to be spread widely throughout the country of Australia but overtime the population has dwindled so much that they are only now found on the island state of Tasmania.
They are spread across the entire island nation and can be most commonly found on coastal lands and forests.
It is speculated that their extinction from mainland Australia happened 400 years ago and coincided with the introduction of Dingoes to the country who were a natural predator of the Tasmanian Devil.
Behavior And Diet
Unlike other marsupials in Australia the Tasmanian Devil is strictly a carnivorous animal meaning they will only eat meat, this can be smaller prey such as birds, insects, frogs and also fish.
They do prefer to scavenge for meals rather than hunting so will favor carrion over fresh kills that require them to hunt.
Their behavior is heavily affected by the situation they are in.
For example, when there is food on offer they can become rowdy and will jockey with each other for food especially if the food is a large carcass.
Much like other marsupials the Tasmanian Devils tail will swell up after they are well fed as it is where they will store fat.
Tasmanian Devils are nocturnal animals as well as solitary, they like to spend the day time in hollow caves, logs or even a burrow.
One the sun is set then the Devil will emerge from its slumber and begin either hunting prey or scavenging the area for any dead animals.
They will eat basically anything that they can grasp and when they find something to engorge on then they do not hold back, they are very voracious and will eat every last part of the poor creature they are consuming that includes all of the hair, bones and organs.
Sleeping In Corpses
A bizarre habit that many Tasmanian Devils display is after they have eaten enough of a corpse they will just climb in and fall asleep inside the corpse they were just feasting on.
As if that is not bad enough once they re awaken from their slumber they will go straight back to eating.
Although this may seem disgusting it does actually help the local ecosystem as eating the corpse whilst it is fresh and also eating all of it does not give the chance for decomposition and maggots to come and feast on the corpse.
The Tasmanian Devil got the name (see also: Where Did The Name Tasmanian Devil Come From? (The Truth Is In The Name))‘Devil’ from the loud piercing sounds that the animal makes.
When the Europeans discovered Tasmania they would hear what they would describe as loud blood curdling screams, and growls coming from deep in the bushes around them.
This made them believe that the island was infested with demons who would surround them when they were in the wilderness.
They actually make many sounds such as coughs, snorts, growls, sniffs and their famed screeches that are used to scare off any other animals to avoid fighting.
Threats To Their Existence As A Species
The Tasmanian Devil is currently an endangered species.
But how did a creature that once roamed most of Australia as well as their home of Tasmania face such a drastic downturn in population.
It all dates back to the late 1800s when the Tasmanian Devils were considered to be a pest due to them being linked to killing livestock.
Due to this they were hunted and killed by farmers which drastically reduced the population.
As well as this the introduction of the Dingo to the country gave the Devils a natural predator that they did not previously have.
The humans and Dingoes would drive the population down considerably, however in 1941 the government would name the Tasmanian Devil a protected species, following this the population would begin to recover but unfortunately not for long.
The population would plummet once again but this time not because of predators but illness.
In the mid 1990s an illness was discovered to have killed tens of thousands of Tasmanian Devils. It was named devil facial tumor disease.
The disease was a rapidly progressing condition that is a rare contagious cancer that would result in lumps forming on and around the Devils mouth and head making it almost impossible for the animal to eat and eventually making it starve to death.
As a result of this disease the population of the Tasmanian Devil was almost wiped out dropping from an estimated 140,000 all the way down to just 20,000, due to this the Tasmanian Devil is considered to be an endangered species.
So there we have it, hopefully you have gained some new knowledge on one of our planet’s most unique and endangered species.
With the species struggling there have been big strides in conservation around the species and since 2003 there has been an initiative that is purely dedicated to saving the Devil and restarting the growth in their population.
As one of our planet’s most unique creatures in the most unique continent on our planet it is our duty to ensure that the species survives so future generations can learn all about this phenomenal creature.
In terms of predators right now it has none, on Tasmania it can thrive however on mainland Australia only the Dingoes would be a threat to them and had they not been introduced to the country from Asia then the Tasmanian Devil would have no natural predators and remain the supreme mammal in the Australian outback.