The Tasmanian Devil; Undoubtedly, the state’s animal mascot, and one of the most well-known Aussie creatures in the entire country. But why have they been labelling such an unfortunate name?
They are the largest carnivorous marsupial to exist, similar in size to a small stocky dog. Their bodies are covered in a bristly black hair, with white fur underbellies. They have a rough appearance, with multiple starches, a coarse muzzle area, and extremely sharp teeth. Its front legs are longer than their rear with its tail short and sharp, making it distantly similar shape to a rat. The males are typically larger than the males, but not by much.
As it’s easy to guess from their name, the Tasmanian Devil is only found in Tasmania. In the state, they are usually found in forest areas and woodlands, making lairs in hollow logs, caves, or an abandoned burrow. Nowadays, after the development of farmsteads, they hang out by livestock farms and roads, scavenging road-kills and small farm animals such as chicken.
Their attitude is probably a contributing factor in their name choice. Being notoriously aggressive and territorial. They are nocturnal creatures, as well as being solitary creatures, only coming together in breeding season.
The breeding months are between February and May and involves the males fighting for the right to mate with the females, with the females selecting the most dominant male. As Devils are marsupials, this means the babies are born only partially developed, and spend the rest of their development in the mother’s pouch. Once the babies are at nine months old, their mother abandoned them, and they must take care of themselves.
Naming the Tassie Devil
The title ‘Tasmanian Devil’ came from the first European settlers who first entered the state. The large group began hearing mysterious and unearthly screams and growls from deep within the bush. These cries were far from a normal animal growl, making settlers believe they were actually evil spirits from the devil himself. Hence the name; Tasmanian Devils! In reality, these frighting screeches are actually the creatures defence response from fear and uncertainty more than aggression.
The devils face complete catastrophic harm when the Tasmanian Devil Cancer appear in the state in 1996. The disease wiped out a lot of the population, almost to the brink of extinction. Nowadays, Tasmanian Devils are endangered and are protected by the state.