TASMANIAN devil is one of the unique animals found in Australia. They are well known for their aggressiveness and opportunistic nature. They are super carnivores. Devils are also the largest carnivores of all marsupials. Although they are small in size, devils can take up prey nearly the size of a small kangaroo. Most of the devil’s diet consists of carrion (decaying flesh of dead animals) or roadkill. Let’s see what do Tasmanian devils eat in the wild.
What Do Tasmanian Devils Eat
- Tasmanian devils mainly scavenge dead animals and occasionally hunt them.
- Devils are ‘specialized scavengers’. They love to eat decaying flesh of dead animals also called carrion but they do take on live prey.
- Due to the their extremely sharp teeth and ability to take on just about any prey, they have long turned out to be the most effective predators of all marsupials.
Although all species of Tasmanian devils are exclusively meat-eaters, they do sometimes eat seasonal flowers or fruits to supplement their diet.
- Tasmanian devils are highly opportunistic hunters, they can eat just about anything from corbie grubs to animals greater than its size.
- Sometimes, they can kill live small kangaroo but generally they don’t seem to be interested in feeding on live prey. Like raptors, devils prefer to rely on carrion.
- Small domestic mammals make up most of the Tasmanian devil diet. Devil likes to eat
- wombats for two reasons; wombats are relatively easy to prey and they are rich in fats. Wombat is the staple diet of Tasmanian devils.
Tasmanian Devil Diet Facts
- They have a varied diet. Their diet mainly depends on the availability of food.
- Tasmanian devils also used to hunt Tasmanian tiger (thylacine) cubs before thylacine went extinct in the 20th century. Tasmanian tiger or wolf was the largest carnivorous marsupial then.
Read More: Do Tasmanian Devils Eat Humans?
- Devils do not appear be scared of humans either. They are often seen eating dead fish or sheep legs near human habitation. They will also kill water rats by the sea.
- They are not fast runners so they can’t hunt animals like rabbits or wallabies. Sometimes however, fast-running animals become too sick or eventually too old to run fast. If that is the case then devils will attack these animals.
- Tasmanian devils have acute sense of smell. They can smell carrion or flocks of sheep at a distance of 10–15 meters (33–49 feet). They are unable to run at extreme speed but devils have been reported to achieve 25 km/h or 16 miles. The average speed is however 10 km/h (6.2 mph).
Tasmanian Devil Diet Fact Sheet
|Diet ⇢||✓ Carnivorous|
|Preferred Food ⇢||✓ Carrion|
|Favorite Prey ⇢||✓ Wombats|
|Infraclass ⇢||✓ Marsupial|
|Eating Habits ⇢||✓ Opportunistic hunter|
|Large Mammals ⇢||✓ 50 – 60%|
|Small Mammals ⇢||✓ 25 – 30 %|
- Devils will also dig out any animal corpse. Many animals which die of illness become the easy food for devils.
- Tasmanian devils will use their sharp teeth to take out the digestive system of the dead animal first. The digestive system is eaten first because it’s the softest part of the animal’s anatomy.
How Much Do Tasmanian Devils Eat
- Tasmanian devils are known to consume as much as 15% to 20% of their entire body weight. If a devil weighs up to 6 kilograms it likely eats up to 1 kilogram at one time.
- When they starve or the food is available in large quantities devils will eat up to 40% of their weight in just half an hour.
Tasmanian Devils Eating Habits
- Devils become too lazy and fatty when they have done eating. They can barely run right after the lunch so they’ll waddle away slowly.
- Devils are such hungry animals that they would clean up any possible carrion.
- Tasmanian farmers would love to have devils around their livestock primarily because of their scavenging ability. The carrion they eat prevents any possible invasion of insects that feed on dead animals. And so their livestock remain safe.
- In winter, female devils rely more on arboreal species which accounts for 40 % of their diet out of which 26.7% comes from possums and the rest is from numerous birds.
Do Male and Female Tasmanian Devils have Same Diet?
- No, their diet depends on seasons and both sexes have different diet.
- Adult males fancy eating medium sized mammals during winter but as the summer arrives they begin to feed on larger mammals.
- More than 95% of the Tasmanian devil diet consists of mammals.
- Unlike males, adult females are less likely to prey on larger prey but their diet varies seasonally. During winter, females will rely on medium sized mammals (58%) and large mammals (25%).
What Do Baby Tasmanian Devils Eat?
- Young devils can climb trees. They like to eat small invertebrates and vertebrates including birds’ eggs and grubs.
- The baby devils will climb up into the trees to attack birds into their nests.
- They are thought to consume tree-living species around 16.2%.
- Juveniles are most likely to feed on possums with only 1% of their diet consists of large birds.
How Do Tasmanian Devils Hunt?
- Tasmanian devils are usually solitary hunters but they are observed hunting in team coordination too.
- One of the dominant males forces the prey out of its habitat and the other members go after it immediately. However, Tasmanian devils mostly hunt alone.
- They will live in groups of 4 to 5 individuals but the group size can go up to 12 individuals.
- Devils are nocturnal species. But they are travelers too. Tasmanian devils will travel as much as 10 miles searching for food. They will use their acute sense of smell to find carrion.
- When in group, devils produce loud harsh sounds one that can be heard many miles away. They eat in groups. When the food is abundant they call out their counterparts to join them at lunch.
- Young devils get to the carcass site more quickly than adults do.
- They become active at dusk.
- The most dominant male will eat the food first followed by females and juveniles.
- The alpha male also defends the carcass from any possible intruder.
- Tasmanian devils seldom fight during feeding. The reason behind is that they wish to find as much food as they possibly can, so the food is always good enough to feed the entire group.
- Devils often compete with quolls. They will dominate one another by producing raucous sounds or possibly by physical posture.
- Devils also communicate via chemical gestures. Adult males are highly aggressive toward other members.
What Do Tasmanian Devils Eat – Video
Horton, M. “Tasmanian devil – Frequently Asked Questions”. Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
Pemberton, David; Renouf, Deane (1993). “A field-study of communication and social behaviour of Tasmanian Devils at feeding sites”. Australian Journal of Zoology. 41 (5): 507–26. doi:10.1071/ZO9930507.
Jones, Menna E.; Barmuta, Leon A. (1988). “Diet overlap and relative abundance of sympatric dasyurid carnivores: a hypothesis of competition”. Journal of Animal Ecology. 67 (3): 410–421. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2656.1998.00203.x.
“Sarcophilus harrisii – Tasmanian Devil”. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Retrieved 30 September2010.