Tuesday, 27 February 2018

The Devil you know.

The Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is a carnivorous marsupial only found today in Tasmania.   I suspect that Taz the cartoon character of this animal, is a bit of a two edged sword for this species.  Yes, it makes it well known - but biologically the depiction of the Devil in the Looney Tunes cartoon series is rather way off the mark!

I've mentioned this before, but the Devil is under threat of extinction because of a facial cancer that is spread from Devil to Devil when they fight over food.  Populations of the Devil have fallen by 80% in many areas - and although this rapid decline is not continuing, a slow continued fall in population is now being seen.  Considerable effort are being made to find a cure for the cancer and to establish disease free 'refuge' colonies.  This may even involve (eventually) the establishment of semi-wild populations on the main land.

All of the animals shown here are captive, from a sanctuary near Cradle Mountain.  I have seen Devils in the wild, but that was in the dim and distant past - ie when we still used film!

One of the interesting things you can see here are the Devils red ears - they are supposed to get redder when the animal is agitated.  Well, if thats the case, they must get very red.

The animal reclining on its back is not dead - its resting!  But you can see the entrance to the pouch and two of the four nipples that the young Devils use to feed.  Adult Devils are about the size of a small dog - but that still makes them the world's largest living marsupial predator.  The best way to describe them is stocky!  When they are born the young Devils weigh in at about 20 grams - and they have upwards of 20 siblings.  Only four of these manage to attach to a nipple in the pouch - and they stay that way for about 100 days.  The young leave the pouch at about 105 days, and then stay in the den rather than the pouch for another three months.

All in all, they are not your average animal!















More pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.  SM


19 comments:

Kaya said...

Stewart, I have never heard about Tasmanian Devil. This is an Incredible animal with red ears which are getting even more red when he is excited. He is so cute when he is laying on his back.
Great photos and moments of a very special and interesting animal!

BumbleVee said...

wow...those ears are reeellly red..... and, how can he be that upset ?.... they must almost catch fire if he gets totally ticked!

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
As with many antipodean critters, these are fascinating - I have only ever seen them in captivity, but never as clearly as this! YAM xx

Fun60 said...

Your photos give us a very good view of the red ears. Something I have never heard about before.

Marie Smith said...

Thank you for the info and great photos. I hope these animals can be saved!

Richard Pegler said...

Saw a programme on TV about the plight of these creatures, Stewart - a very sad and worrying situation. I hope the research comes up with a cure for that cancer. Thank you for the reminder.

Best wishes - - - Richard

Linda W. said...

Fascinating animal. I still remember the looney tunes verison - one of my favorite characters.

David Gascoigne said...

I really hope they can find a cure for the cancer and ensure a secure future for this unique creature.

Missy George said...

Wonderful series of pictures Stewart..Interesting about the red ears..very sad about the cancer thing..I hope they don't become yet another extinct species..Enjoy your week..

Lea said...

Great photos and interesting information!

Lady Fi said...

Wow - what amazing shots! How did you manage to get up so close?

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Hoping for a comeback.

Margaret Adamson said...

An very interesting animal and I hope it doe not become extinct Stewart.

Rhodesia said...

We saw them in captivity when we were in Sydney, but I do not remember those very red ears! Sad how many animals are endangered and for different reasons. Hope the facial cancer problem is solved before it is too late. Love that one lying on its back, very relaxed :-) Cheers Diane

carol l mckenna said...

What a fascinating post and photos ~ My son loved the cartoon character and you are so right ~ no comparison to your great photos and so glad all that 'red' color was suppose to be there ~

Happy Week to you,
A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A Creative Harbor)

June Caedmon said...

Good grief, she does look dead, doesn't she! Such an interesting animal. Those ears! I'd hate to see one upset. I hope they can find a solution to stop their decline. Thanks for sharing, Stewart!

A Colorful World said...

The Taz is really beautiful! It's sad they are in such decline! I hope there will be a cure found before they disappear from our world, which would be such a tragedy! Love your photos. Hope there will be preserves that will protect them in the future after the disease is under control and so people can continue see and photograph them. Wonderful post!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh my gosh that was so interesting. I can't imagine their ears getting any redder! But obviously there's no agitation showing here so I guess they must. That is too bad about the cancer and I hope wildlife experts can find a good solution. Thank you -- these are the first pictures I've ever seen of this fascinating animal.

italiafinlandia said...

Very interesting.
This is the only Devil that I would like to meet...
Thank you for sharing!