Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Tasmanian Devils

Thinking about holidays reminded me of the trips I have made to Tasmania.

That reminded me of Tasmanian devils.

On our second holiday in Tasmania we saw many devils, especially when we went to Cradle Mountain. We heard them calling to each other in the bush with their rather scary sound. The scientific name is Sarcophilius harrisii and they are about the size if a domestic cat, maybe a bit smaller. These little darlings are marsupials and only the strongest survive. When the babies are born they are only about the size of a grain of rice and there could be twenty or so born at the one time. There are only four teats so only four young will make it.

Sadly there is a ghastly contagious cancer that is now exterminating these wonderful animals. The tumours grow around the mouth, but because the devils fight and bite so much the tumours spread rapidly. So far scientists have been unable to prevent or cure the disease. You can read about it here. http://www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/webpages/lbun-5qf86g

Small populations free of the facial tumour disease have been established on reserves on mainland Australia in the hope that they can be eventually released in Tasmania.

This fabulous photo is from Australian Geographic. Just look at those baby claws. And trusting faces.

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