Imagine meeting a snarling black beast with a gaping mouth and strong gleaming teeth in the dead of the night! You could meet such an animal on the Australian island of Tasmania, now the only home of the animal known as Tasmanian devil. It was once abundant in mainland Australia. But when the Aborigines came, the dogs they brought, the dingos, ousted the devil from the mainland.
The spine-chilling research of the marsupial, its jet black appearance and bad temper made size of a small dog- 75cm high at the shoulder-but it can look and sound incredibly fierce. Its monstrous screech like that of a hyena has made people sometimes call it the Tasmanian hyena.
The Tasmanian devil has powerful jaws and teeth and can devour its prey completely- bones, fur and all. The massive jaws have a gape of 120 degrees giving it a threatening look. Although it is believed that the animal gapes more out of fear and uncertainty than out of aggression, a naturalist when asked if the Tasmanian devil was as ferocious as it looked, replied, “Maybe, maybe not.”
The Tasmanian devil prays on birds, small mammals, and insects and also eats dead animals. It hunts mainly at night and spends the day in a cave or in the hollow of a log.
The female gives birth to 30 young called ‘imps’ at a time. Each is slightly larger than a grain of rice. They are carried in a pouch on the mother’s belly for 5 months, after which they are left in the nest, while the mother is away feeding. Imps become independent after about 28 weeks.