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Tasmanian Devil

In Danger of Extinction

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Tasmanian devil

Tasmanian devil ... doomed to extinction?

© 2009 Larry Rivera licensed to About.com, Inc

The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is not to be confused with the Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus) which, despite reports of sightings, is believed to be now extinct.

In fact Tasmania's Department of Primary Industries and Water, in its listing of native plants and animals, reported that the Tasmanian tiger was declared extinct by international standards in 1986.

The last known Tasmanian tiger died in Hobart Zoo on September 7, 1936. There have been reported — but unverified — Tasmanian sightings since.

The devil disease

The Tasmanian devil, its numbers cut down drastically by a deadly facial tumor disease, was put on Australia's national list of endangered species in May 2009.

According to Tasmania's Department of Primary Industries and Water, 70 per cent of the Tasmanian devil population has already been wiped out by the disease in just 13 years.

The Tasmanian government said 90 per cent of adult Tasmanian devils have been killed by the disease in high density areas and 40 to 50 per cent in medium to low density areas.

Estimates of the Tasmanian devil population as at the start of 2009 have ranged from 10,000 to 100,000.

Devil facial tumor disease (DFTD) is said to be one of only three recorded cancers that can spread like a contagious disease and is passed from devil to devil through biting.

The devil you say

The Tasmanian devil is the world's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial.

It has a thick-set build, a broad head and short thick tail.

Large Tasmanian devil males weigh up to 12 kilograms, and stand about 30 centimetres high at the shoulder.

The Tasmanian devil is mostly or wholly black but white markings have in some instances been seen on its rump and chest.

Hiding by day in dense bush, the Tssmanian devil forages through the forest at night as it scavenges for food.

The Tasmanian devil is a protected species.

Cartoon character

The Tasmanian devil has appeared as Taz in several Warner Bros Looney Tunes cartoons.

To help raise funds for research into the devil disease, Warner Bros has allowed the government of Tasmania to produce Taz toys with all profits going into Tasmanian devil research.

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