The scientific name ‘Sarcophilus’ (meaning ‘flesh-lover’) is well suited to these carnivores who feed on fresh meat as well as rotting carcasses of other animals. When devils feed, they consume the entire animal – flesh, fur, bones and all. They often screech and growl when feeding, to intimidate and scare off other animals to prevent fighting.
As a top predator in Australia, the Tasmanian devil helps maintain small animal populations and assists in removing carcasses. They act like natural vacuum cleaners, keeping the bush healthy and reducing maggots.
Devils under threat
The biggest threat to this endangered species is a disease called ‘Devil Facial Tumour Disease’. This contagious cancer is a fatal disease that spreads rapidly from one devil to another through biting.
Lone Pine’s devils come from the ‘Devil Ark’ project. Devil Ark is a not-for-profit organisation aiming to breed disease-free Tasmanian devils on mainland Australia.