Tasmanian Devil, Sarcophilus harrisii
January 2012

SDZ Global Logo

Image copyright: frompandora from Flickr
Some rights reserved



TAXONOMY & HISTORY
(Archer 1982) (Archer & Baynes 1973) (Balme et al. 1978) (Beck 2008) (Beck et al. 2008) (Brown 2006) (Cosgrove 1999) (Dawson 1982) (Flood 2004) (Gerdtz & Archbold 2003) (Gillespie 2002) (ITIS 2012) (Krajewski et al. 2000) (Long et al. 2002) (Muirhead & Wroe 1998) (Owen & Pemberton 2005) (Turney et al. 2001) (Williams 1980) (Wright 2010) (Wroe et al. 2000)

Describer (Date): Boitard 1841

Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
        Class: Mammalia
             Subclass: Prototheria (egg laying mammals - platypus, echidnas, spiny anteaters)
             Subclass: Theria (placental and marsupial mammals)
                 Infraclass: Eutheria (placental mammals in 21 Orders)
                 Infraclass: Metatheria (marsupials in 7 Orders)
                       Order: Dasyuromorphia (most of the carnivorous marsupials in Australia; around 70 species of small marsupials)
                           Family: Extinct Thalacinidae (Tasmanian wolves, extinct in 1936)
                           Family: Myrmecobilidae (only the numbat which is also called the banded anteater)
                           Family: Dasyuridae (some 21 genera of small marsupials)                 
                                 Subfamily: Sminthopsinae (4 genera of marsupial mice, dunnarts)
                                 Subfamily: Dasyurinae (16 genera of marsupial mice, quolls; 1 genus Tasmanian devil)
                                      Genus: Sarcophilus (2 fossil and 1 living Tasmanian devil)
                                          Species: Sarcophilus harrisii (modern Tasmanian devils)
                                               Subspecies: Sarcophilus harrisii dixonae
                                               Subspecies: Sarcophilus harrisii harrisii


Taxonomic History and Nomenclature

Evolutionary History Cultural History

DISTRIBUTION & HABITAT
(Hawkins et al. 2008) (Jones et al. 2004) (Owen & Pemberton 2005)

Distribution (Hawkins et al. 2008)  Habitat (Hawkins et al. 2008) 

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
(Eisenberg et al. 1975) (Guiler 1970) (Jones 1995, 2003, 2008) (Lee et al. 1982) (Owen & Pemberton 2005) (Pemberton & Renouf 1993) (Pocock 1926) (Quammen 2008a)


Very long whiskers aid nighttime perception
as devils scavenge and feed communally.

Image credit: Wayne McLean via
Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.


Body Weight: 8-14 kg (17.6-30.9 lb) - male; 5-9 kg (11.0-19.8 lb) - female
Head and Body Length: 652 mm (2.1 ft) - male; 570 mm (1.9 ft) - female
Tail Length: 258 mm (10.2 in) - male; 244mm (9.6 in) - female

General Pelage Sexual Dimorphism

Other Physical Characteristics


When stressed or agitated, devils' ears
become flushed red.

Image credit: Jamie Muchall from flickr
Some rights reserved



BEHAVIOR & ECOLOGY
(Bloomfield et al. 2005) (Croft 1982, 2003) (Eisenberg et al.1975) (Grzimek 1967) (Guiler 1992) (Jones 1995, 2003, 2008) (Jones & Barmuta 1998) (Owen & Pemberton 2005) (Pemberton 1990) (Pemberton & Renouf 1993) (Ruibal et al. 2010) (Sanderson et al.1979) (Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service 2011)


Activity Cycle Territory Size

In spite of their solitary habits, devils feed
together in noisy gatherings. Larger
carcasses attract larger groups of devils.

Image credit: Two Big Paws from flickr
Some rights reserved

Social Groups
Hierarchy Territorial Behavior Aggression (Pemberton & Renouf 1993)

Young devils play like puppies, chewing on
each other vigorously; as adults their faces
are scarred from frequent biting, especially
during sexual encounters.

Image credit: Arthur Chapman from flickr
Some rights reserved

Play Communication
      Displays       Vocalization (Pemberton & Renouf 1993)

To hear what a Tasmanian devil sounds like, visit the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service website:
http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=387


      Olfaction/Scent Marking Locomotion Interspecies Interaction

DIET & FEEDING
(Jones 2003, 2008) (Jones & Barmuta 1998, 2000) (Kelly 1993) (Owen & Pemberton 2005) (Pemberton & Renouf 1993) (Schaap 2002)

Strong meat-eating teeth give devils
a bite force about as strong
as that of the maned wolves

Image credit: variationblogr from flickr
Some rights reserved



REPRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
(Buchmann & Guiler 1977) (Fleay 1935) (Guiler 1970) (Hawkins et al. 2008) (Jones 2008) (Jones et al. 2008) (Kelly 1993) (Lee et al. 1982) (Owen & Pemberton 2005) (Pearse & Swift 2006) (Slater 1993)

Courtship Reproduction Gestation Life Stages

      Birth (Guiler 1970) Infant/Pouch Life (< 1 year old) (Guiler 1970) Subadult (1-2 yrs old) Adult Longevity Mortality

MANAGED CARE
(Jackson 2003) (Schaap 2002) (Smith 1993)


POPULATION AND CONSERVATION STATUS
(Australian Government 2011) (Brennan 2011) (Hamede et al. 2011) (Hawkins et al. 2008) (Jones et al. 2004) (McCallum et al. 2007) (Quammen 2008a,b) (Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service 2011)

Population Status (Hawkins et al. 2008)

Encroachment of human development
in Tasmanian devil habitats remains a
conservation challenge, but mortality from
Devil Facial Tumor Disease is the most
urgent and serious threat to their survival.

Image credit: Halans from flickr
Some rights reserved

Conservation Threats to survival (Hawkins et al. 2008)
Important Web Resources:

© 2012 San Diego Zoo Global. Last updated February 10, 2012. Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to library@sandiegozoo.org.

©2012 San Diego Zoo Global. Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to library@sandiegozoo.org.


Return to the Fact Sheet Index