Zoology A Closer Look: Sarcophilus laniarius (tasmanian Devil)

Discussion in 'Zoology' started by mscbkc070904, Mar 1, 2005.

  1. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    TASMANIAN DEVIL

    Image: ADW: devil.jpg

    Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
    Subphylum: Vertebrata
    Class: Mammalia
    Order: Dasyuromorphia
    Family: Dasyuridae
    Genus: Sarcophilus
    Species: Sarcophilus laniarius

    Geographic Range

    Today, S. laniarius is found only in Tasmania, although fossil evidence suggests that it once occupied much of the Australian mainland. It has been hypothesized that its absence in many areas which it previously occupied can be explained by competition with the introduced dingo.

    Habitat

    Tasmanian devils are numerous throughout Tasmania except in areas where there has been extensive habitat fragmentation and deforestation. They are most numerous in coastal heath. Their dens typically are located in hollow logs, caves, or burrows.

    Physical Description

    Mass - 4 to 9 kg (8.8 to 19.8 lbs)
    Stocky with a brownish black pelage, the Tasmanian Devil resembles a small bear. They have a white throat patch and white spots on the sides and backside, and a pinkish snout. The head is massive with well developed jaw muscles. Molar teeth are heavy and adapted for their role in crushing bone. Females are slightly lighter than males.

    Reproduction

    The Tasmanian devil is monestrous. Most mating takes place in March, with females at least two years old. Litter size is usually between 2 and 4, gestation taking about a month. The young then travel to the pouch where they remain for about three and a half months. By eight months, the young are completely weaned.

    Cool Fact: Since Tasmanian Devils only have 4 #@!&%, the young battle out to whoever gets to the #@!&% first wins, any other young born, beyond 4 die due to starvation. This is the first sign competiveness by this marsupial, "only the strong will survive".

    Behavior

    Tasmanian devils are nocturnal and usually solitary. Occasionally, when individuals congregate at food sources such as carrion, they interact aggressively but they are not territorial. When fighting, Tasmanian devils vocalize with growls, screeches, and vibratos. There also seems to be a learned dominance hierarchy, at least in captive situations. Both males and females make nests of bark, grass and leaves which they inhabit throughout the day.

    Cool Fact: The Tasmanian Devil got its name the devil by the loud demon-like vocalizations they make, not to mention, due to being nocturnal and humans fear in the dark, they were given the name.

    Food Habits

    The Tasmanian Devil has an unwarranted reputation as a savage beast. In reality, these marsupials take most of their large prey such as wombats, sheep, and rabbits, in the form of carrion. It is an efficient scavenger, eating even bones and fur. Other food items, such as insects, insect larvae, snakes, and small amounts of vegetative matter, are taken when encountered. The Tasmanian devil forages in a slow, lumbering manner, using its sense of smell to find food at night.

    Cool Fact: Tasmanian Devils will eat up to 40% of their body weight in a singel meal. They will continue to eat until they waddle. Another fact, unlike most carnivorous creatures, these little devils eat their meals from the inside out, if its a large animal. They will dig themselves a hole into the meal and continue to eat the insides, inside the animal.

    Conservation Status

    At one time, the Tasmanian Devil was thought to be in danger of extinction due to persecution by settlers and destruction of forest habitat. In recent years, populations are recovering due to increased amounts of carrion as a result of the livestock and commercial trapping industries.