Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No Willy Willies Here

Last week one of my cyber-space friends had to take her cat to the vet.  She wasn't looking forward to the event and ended her post by asking, "Ever tried putting the Tasmanian Devil into a cat carrier?"  If I had read this post two years ago, I would have imagined a whirling dust devil.  However, since moving to Australia I have learned that there really is an animal called the Tasmanian Devil.
The similarities between the Warner Brothers bipedal Taz and the Australian marsupial are limited to the ravenous appetite and a bad temper.

The Tasmanian Devil only survives in the wild on the island state of Tasmania.  However, widely spread fossils indicate that they were once found on mainland Australia.  It is believed that due to meteorological changes and the spread of the dingo they became extinct prior to the arrival of European settlers.   
The Tasmanian Devil is not a large animal, and they are about the size of a small dog.  Its build is stocky and muscular.  The fur of the marsupial is black, though patches of white can occur on its  rump or chest.  When under stress it produces a strong odor and its ears turn pink.  It makes a variety of boisterous noises, but its vocalizations are primarily to warn and ward off intruders.        
The devil is carnivorous and nocturnal.  It roams considerable distances, up to 16 km a night, in search for food--either carrion or prey.  It uses its powerful jaws and teeth to completely devour the carcass bones, fur and all.
After almost a century of being hunted by those that viewed them as a threat to livestock, the Tasmanian Devil was on the brink of extinction.  However, in 1941 they officially became protected and their numbers began to increase.  Unfortunately, starting in the mid 1990's the species has fallen victim to the devastating Devil Facial Tumor Disease-a fatal condition characterized by cancers around the mouth and head.  Currently the wild Tasmanian devil population has decreased by 80%, and the animal is now considered endangered.


  1. I hope they find a cure soon for this devastating disease. I want to be able to see one some day.

  2. Oh, they are so cute with their little red ears in the sunlight. You wouldn't think they'd have such a nasty temper.