Until two years ago, the Tasmanian devils only lived on the island of Tasmania. There, however, their existence was threatened. Species conservationists have now succeeded in having young animals born on the mainland again.
Conservationists celebrate Down Under: For the second year in a row, Tasmanian devils have been born in the wild on the Australian mainland.
So far, nine of the tiny carnivores have been discovered in the pouches of mother animals, the animal welfare organization Aussie Ark said on Friday. However, the team expects the number to increase in the coming weeks. There’s something very special about checking the bags and seeing little pink cubs there, said Kelly Davis, the organization’s curator.
As of 2020, Tasmanian devils only lived on the island of Tasmania
“It’s even more special out here at Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary because we know they’re completely wild with no human intervention,” Davis said. Until 2020, the aggressive “Tasmanian Devils”, weighing up to eight kilograms, only existed on the island of Tasmania, to which they also owe their name. There, however, their existence was threatened because of a type of cancer.
Aussie Ark has its own Tasmanian devil breeding program. In 2020, the organization, along with other conservation groups, released 28 of the black animals, who showed no signs of disease, at a reserve north of Sydney. Then last year the good news: the animals multiplied. Around 3000 years after the Tasmanian devils went extinct on the mainland, young were born again in the wild for the first time.
Young animals live around 100 days in the pouch
After birth, the tiny and still completely naked young animals crawl from the vagina into the mother’s pouch. There they attach themselves to the mammary glands and slowly grow until they leave the pouch after about 100 days. Even with larger litters, only a maximum of four babies can survive due to the limited number of mammary glands.
The team will now monitor the dams with motion sensor cameras. “We expect that in six months young Tasmanian devils will explore the sanctuary,” it said. This year’s season has been critical to the program’s long-term success, and the confirmation of at least nine “joeys,” as the youngsters are called, is a significant step in the right direction.
The animals have been under protection since 1941. In nature, they aid in the control of feral cats and foxes that threaten other endangered species. Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) have an extremely strong bite. Characteristic are the red ears, a wild screeching and a foul smell that the animals emit when excited.