Tasmanian Devil Adaptations – Behavioral & Structural Adaptations

YOU’LL get to know quite many Tasmanian devil adaptations in this article. Every living organism has two kinds of adaptations; one is structural or physical adaptations which includes just about every physical part; and the other is behavioral adaptations one that the animal does to survive. Here we’ll talk about both in respect of a Tasmanian devil. Let’s see what adaptations does a Tasmanian devil have to survive in the natural habitat.

Tasmanian Devil Adaptations – Two Main Adaptations of a Tasmanian Devil

Structural Adaptations Behavioral Adaptations
Fur and Coat Sense of Smell
Teeth and Skull Sight and Vision
Eyes and Ears Hearing Sense
Legs and Body Vocalizations
Devil’s Tail Slower Metabolism
Claws and Paws Anatomy and Temperature
Female’s Pouch Devil’s Speed

Tasmanian Devil Structural Adaptations

Fur and Coat

  • The Tasmanian devil’s dark fur is typical of any marsupial.
  • The devil’s fur is all black just like its body.
  • Some of the males are recognized their white patch that runs across their chest.
  • The characteristic quality of a devil’s coat allows it to survive in just about any habitat environment.
tasmanian devil adaptations
Adult devil feeding on a bird. PHOTOGRAPHY BY abc.net.au

Teeth, Jaw & Bite

  • The most prominent adaptation of the Tasmanian devil is its powerful teeth.
  • They have the strongest bite of any living mammal in respect to their body size.
  • Tasmanian devils are scavengers. They can exert a force of 553 N (56.4 kgf) which is enough to crush any bone.
  • Devils have the ability to open their jaws 70 – 80 degrees. Thanks to their large jaw-opening, devils are able to exert a tremendous amount of bite force.
  • Devil can
  • Tasmanian devils have 42 teeth.
  • They can get hold of prey as big as a wombat weighing up to 66 pounds with their powerful teeth.

Eyes and Ears

  • Like in all marsupials, the eyes and ears are probably not the defining features of the devil.
  • They don’t seem to have any external ears or opening.
  • The Tasmanian devil’s eyes are small but they do serve important function.

Legs and Body

  • Devils are the animals of pretty character. They have short robust legs and thick build.
  • The hind legs of a devil are only slightly shorter than the forelegs—perhaps an adaptation to reach speed of 13 km/h.

Devil’s Tail

  • Tasmanian devil has a pretty long tail in proportion to its body size.
  • The tail is measured at 10.2 inches long that is nearly half the length of its body.
  • The tail assists the devil in maintaining balance particularly when it runs quickly.

Claws & Paws

  • Tasmanian devils have five long toes attached to each of their forefeet. One of the toes is exposed from the side while the rest of the four toes are pointing forward.
  • Devils can hold their prey as well as food with these claws.
  • Like bears, Tasmanian devils have non-retractable claws.
  • There are four toes attached to its hind feet.
  • Devils are also expert diggers. They use their strong claws to dig burrows where they spend daylight hours.

Female’s Pouch

  • Female devils are largely recognized by their distinctive physical adaptation that is
  • The pouch opens to the rear and its primary purpose is to prevent joeys from falling as well as to cover female’s nipples.

Devil’s Whiskers

  • Tasmanian devils have got long whiskers on their face.
  • Whiskers play a vital role in finding prey in the darkness.
  • Devils also use their whiskers to search their counterparts at night. The whiskers function more like radar that tells the devil if it’s alone in the forest.
  • The Tasmanian devil’s whiskers begin from the end of the chin all the way down to its rear jaw. It covers its entire shoulder.

Tasmanian Devil Adaptations – video

tasmanian devil adaptations
The devil’s whiskers are quite visible.

Tasmanian Devil Behavioral Adaptation

Sense of Smell

  • The devil has an acute sense of smell.
  • It can detect the carrion at 1 kilometer a distance.

Sight & Vision

  • Tasmanian devils are nocturnal animals. They will hunt at night.
  • Thanks to their excellent night vision, devils can see prey quite clearly at night.
  • Nonetheless, devils are unable to see objects that aren’t moving at night. Their vision is limited to the moving objects.


  • Tassie devils are known to produce as many 11 different sounds each of which conveys unique meaning.
  • They will growl, screech, or even scream like a child.

Tasmanian Devil Speed

  • Devils aren’t really speedy. They can only hunt those animals that are weakened by age so they get to them easily. That is to say that Tasmanian devil is unable to run down faster prey such as wallaby.
  • They will attain the maximum speed of 25 km/h (16 mph) for as long as 1.5 km (0.93 mi).
  • According to Pemberton’s findings, Tasmanian devils have an average speed of 10 km/h (6.2 mph).


  • Unlike other marsupials, devils have much slower metabolism of about 141 kJ/kg (15.3 kcal/lb).
  • An average sized devil can consume up to 170 kcal a day.
  • The metabolic rate of a devil is comparable to the marsupial herbivores.

Anatomy and Temperature

  • Tasmanian devils are thought to maintain their body temperature of 37.4 and 38 °C (99.3 and 100.4 °F).
  • Some scientists believe that devils dissipate heat by sweating while others claim they only pant to release heat.

Tasmanian Devil Adaptations – video

Article Cited

Owen and Pemberton, pp. 21–22.

“Devils at dinner”. Save the Tasmanian Devil. 10 December 2010. Retrieved 4 May 2011.

Guiler, E. R. (1970). “Observations on the Tasmanian devil, Sarcophilus harrisii II. Reproduction, Breeding and Growth of Pouch Young”. Australian Journal of Zoology. 18: 63–70. doi:10.1071/ZO9700063.