Tasmanian devils are Australia’s only true indigenous carnivorous mammals. They are specialized scavengers and terrestrial predators. Devils are almost entirely nocturnal. They are most likely to feed on medium-sized mammals including possums and wallabies. Tasmanian devils are inefficient hunters and they probably never attack humans.
What Do Tasmanian Devils Eat
The Tasmanian devil is the largest living carnivorous marsupial of the world. Devils eat just about anything as their diet is composed of 1080 poisoned animals. (Le Mar and McArthur 2000; Statham 2001).
Tasmanian devils are found in large numbers in regions where food is abundant. Devils are known to rely on medium-sized mammals but they seldom attack animals larger than their own size. They are opportunistic feeders and are likely to prey animals live or dead.
Devils are very bad at killing or even capturing active prey. They rarely attack small reptiles or mammals and will often eat carrion in the form of road kill.
Much of the devil’s diet is composed of small wallabies including Bennet’s wallaby (Macropus refugriseus fructia), lizards, birds, livestock (lambs), pademelons, wombats, invertebrates, and rat kangaroos.
Like hyena, Tasmanian devils will consume almost all parts of sheep’s carcass. They will chew flesh and crush bones with their powerful jaws.
Although devils are able to take down prey as large as a young kangaroo but they rarely do so and they primarily rely on dead animals. Devils are extremely fond of eating wombats because wombat’s flesh is rich in fat content and also they are easy to kill.
Devils are known to feed on some native mammals including potoroos and bettong. Apart from animals devils supplement their diet with fruits, vegetables, fish, and tadpoles.
The Tasmanian devil has a varied diet and it depends on the food available. Reports also suggest that these devils used to eat Tasmanian tiger’s cubs (before their extinction).
They feed on water rats and also consume dead fish.
Devils are slow runners as such they are mostly outrun by fast animals like rabbits or wallabies. However, animals which become slow due to illness are prone to devil’s attack. Devils have a keen sense of smell as they can detect prey as far as 10 – 15 meters from the source.
According to a rough estimate, devils eat 10 – 15% of their body weight each day but they can eat as much as 40% of their body weight if the food is abundant.
If the prey animal is small then devils are least likely to leave any traces behind. Even the bones are chewed and swallowed. The male devils are more inclined to feed on medium-sized prey while females often consume small animals.
Devils will also eat crayfish and frogs which is why they are often found on the bank of streams.
They are most likely to consume carrion precisely because they are poor hunters.