With the size of a small muscular dog, the Tasmanian Devil is the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world, only found in the Australian island state of Tasmania. It has black fur and is renowned for its disturbing call, ferocious temperament and the fact that it releases an offensive odor when stressed.
The Tasmanian Devil, also referred to simply as “the devil” is now facing extinction and was listed as an endangered species by the Tasmanian state government. The cause is a disfiguring facial cancer that kills an animal in just a few months, that decimated the island state’s wild devil population by as much as 60 percent.
The transmittable parasitic cancer causes tumors to form in and around the mouth, interfering with feeding so that an animal may starve to death. It originates from a single contagious cell that has spread through biting during fights for food or mates. However, they may be hope because David Llewellyn, Tasmanian Primary Industries Minister, said that some devils from Western Tasmania had developed antibodies to this facial tumor.
“While it is still very early days, discoveries such as this provide hope that the disease may be managed in the longer term and that devils with genetic diversity will survive it,” he said.
Photo by blather