Devils bite back
When the Tasmanian Tiger became extinct in 1936, the diminutive Tasmanian Devil became the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial. Once also found on the Australian mainland, this iconic Australian critter is now only found on the island state of Tasmania.
Weighing in at less than 12kg, this little critter packs a mean bite! A jaw pressure about 6½ times that of a Pitbull terrier allows it to munch through anything but a tough wombat skull. But don’t be fooled by this fearsome façade. Tasmanian Devils are generally shy creatures and feed mainly on carrion. This feeding habit however unfortunately makes them a regular statistic on Tasmanian highways as they perform their nightly clean up rituals.
In 1996 researchers discovered a new disease affecting Tasmanian Devils in the wild which they aptly named Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). DFTD is a cancer that transfers between animals through biting, a habit that occurs often during group feeding and mating rituals. Affected animals develop debilitating open tumours on their face and usually die within a few months of the wounds becoming visible. Since its discovery, DFTD has spread to affect more than 60% of the State and is responsible for wiping out an estimated 80-90% of wild Devil populations in these areas.
How are we helping:
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary contributes to a captive ‘insurance population’ of Tasmanian Devils to help save the species from extinction. In 2005 many government and non-government organisations worked in collaboration with zoo industry professionals to collect young Tasmanian Devils from unaffected regions of the State. These individuals were spread between 5 zoos on the mainland for the purposes of breeding a ‘clean’ population that in the future may be reintroduced to the wild to repopulate DFTD free regions. There are now over 500 Devils involved in the insurance population which facilitated a successful release onto Maria Island off the Eastern coast of Tasmania in 2012. Plans for re-wilding areas of Tasmania where the species is no longer present will be undertaken in coming years.
Currumbin Sanctuary has bred 9 Tasmanian Devils for this important conservation initiative.
Come and visit us to see our conservation work at the below onsite park location.