Zoos Victoria Zoos Victoria
The back end
So once we have checked the front of the devil, it’s time to check the back end to see if it is a male or female, the condition of females’ pouches, check for wounds or scars and to measure the tail. They get a thorough check for scarring, DFTD and any new wounds from fighting or mishaps. We check the feet carefully too – devils have very sensitive feet!
Devil Woolf has beautiful feet!
If it is a female, we look to see if she is reproductively active. Young females will have clean, pale pink pouches, reproductively active females may have secretions in their pouches associated with a reproductive cycle, they may be lactating and have large teats so we can tell how many young may be in dens, or we may find beautiful pouch young! We saw no young on this trip as it is too late in the season, but here are some we have seen in the Healesville Sanctuary breeding program.
Devils drinking from their mother’s the pouch at Healesville Sanctuary (photo: Annalise McLeish)
We also measure the diameter of devil tails using calipers. Like many marsupials, devils store fat in their tails, so a nice fat tail means a nice healthy devil! Using the tail diameter, diameter of the head (taken earlier), feel of the devils ribs and hips and weight, we can then assign a condition score. A score of 4+ is a very healthy fat devil, 3 is an average healthy devil and less than 2 is underweight and needs to be monitored.
Socrates has a nice thick tail – he is a 4+ condition score!
The devil can then be released back home!