The Tasmanian Devil, Sarcophilus harrisii, cannot be mistaken for any other marsupial, its spine-chilling screeches, black colour, and reputed bad-temper, led the early European settlers to call it The Devil, although only the size of a small dog, it can sound and look incredibly fierce.
Generally Tasmanian Devils eat dead animals they find. This is an important activity because they clean up dead carcasses which helps keep the bush clean. However, they can also hunt and kill birds, reptiles and small mammals. Like many marsupials, devils can retain fat in their tails to keep up nutrition when there is little food to be found.
Tasmanian Devils have powerful jaws that can bite through bones. The can open their mouths in a very wide gape. When several gather at one carcass, they growl and screech loudly, but rarely injure each other. This bone-chilling screeching gave the devil its name: early settlers thought that they sounded like ‘devils’ in the night.