Zoos Victoria

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Tassie Devils are the world's largest surviving marsupial carnivore.
In the wild they are found only in Tasmania where they are now under threat from the devastating Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD).

They were once found all across mainland Australia but disappeared from the mainland around 3,000 years ago. This is widely attributed to competition with Dingoes which were introduced around 5,000 years ago to Australia but never made it to Tasmania.

Healesville Sanctuary are part of a mainland captive breeding insurance population program and have successfully bred 101 devils in the last 5 years! The aim of the program is to establish a viable disease-free insurance population on the mainland to re-introduce to Tasmania if the DFTD continues to decimate the wild population in Tasmania.

  • They are the world's largest marsupial carnivore
  • Their bite is the strongest of any mammal relative to their body weight
  • Despite their strong jaws they mostly feed on carrion (dead animals) and are actually quite poor hunters.
  • Their scientific name Sarcophilus means 'lover of death' due to their preference for carrion
  • They are mostly solitary but do come together over food and when competing for mates. When they do so they bite each other which is one reason DFTD has spread so rapidly across the state of Tasmania.
  • They also have a blood curdling call when fighting over food and mates which gave them their name 'Devil'.
  • They are fully independent at 2 years of age and rarely live longer than 5 years in the wild. Males are slightly larger than females.

  • Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is a transmissible cancer able to be passed between animals.
  • The disease was first seen in 1996 and has rapidly spread across Tasmania and has reduced the wild devil population by up to 50%
  • They are solitary by nature but are often social when feeding and during breeding season where they easily transmit the disease to other animals. Infected animals will usually die within months.
  • More is being understood about this disease all the time and there seems to be areas where wild devils are showing more resistance. The success of captive breeding at Healesville and other captive breeding facilities on the mainland also gives hope that devils will eventually recover from this threat.
  • The other big threat to devils are cars on the road which account for around 2,000 devil deaths per year in Tasmania

At our Zoos...

  • Healesville Sanctuary

In the Wild...

  • Across Tasmania