Wildlife of Tasmania was one of my reasons why I have decided to add Tasmania to our Australian tour. With fewer introduced predators and a relatively large amount of intact habitat, Tasmania is a final refuge for many animal species including the Tasmanian devil.
Tasmania is a natural haven for Australian wildlife. Bennetts wallabies, seals, penguins and wedge-tailed eagles can be found without venturing too far from the state’s capital, Hobart, and encounters with friendly wildlife are an almost inevitable feature of travels around the state.
About the size of a small dog, the Tasmanian devil is the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is found only in Tasmania. The discordant snarls, screeches and growls they make are believed to have contributed to the naming of the devil and they are often heard fighting over food and during mating.
Tasmanian devils still occur in the wild. It is believed that devils became extinct elsewhere in Australia some 500 years ago. However now there is a new threat for this unique marsupial. Devil Facial Tumour Disease is a fatal disease that has caused a massive decline in devil numbers over much of the State. DFTD is extremely unusual as it is only one of three recorded cancers that can spread and it is passed from devil to devil by biting.
The wombat is a large marsupial found only in Australia. Wombats are nocturnal creatures and have powerful claws and rodent-like front teeth that they use for digging extensive burrows. Being marsupials, the wombat rears its young in a pouch, however in the case of the wombat this is a backwards-facing pouch – a very useful evolutionary variation that prevents the wombat covering its young with soil when digging. Wombats weigh around 25-30 kg and are herbivores, eating mainly grasses, herbs, bark and roots. One of the best places to see wombats is in the late afternoon at Narawntapu National Park in Tasmania’s north.
The pademelon is a stocky animal with a relatively short tail and legs to aid its movement through dense vegetation. It ranges in colour from dark-brown to grey-brown above and has a red-brown belly. The unusual common name, pademelon, is of Aboriginal derivation. The species is abundant and widespread throughout the state of Tasmania. It is commonly seen around many of the state’s national parks and in the suburbs of Hobart.
In Tasmania we have visited Tasmanian Devil Zoo where you can donate and support the research regarding DFTD. We have seen there also many kangaroos.