Tasmanian Devil

The greatest recent threat to Tasmanian devils is Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) as populations have declined up to 80% due to the contagious cancer.

The greatest recent threat to Tasmanian devils across Tasmania is Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD). In September 2006, the Tasmanian devil disease was gazetted under the Animal Health Act as a List B notifiable disease.

In diseased areas, nearly all sexually mature Tasmanian devils, older than two years of age, become infected and succumb to the disease. Juveniles as young as one year old can also be infected. This is resulting in populations with a very young age-structure in which females have only one breeding event, whereas they would normally have three.

Populations in which DFTD has been observed for several years have declined by up to 80% (approximate, due to low sample size in recent years). There is no evidence to date of the decline in devils stopping or the prevalence of the disease decreasing, but monitoring teams continue to assess Tasmanian devil populations as DFTD spreads.

Although this disease has not resulted in extinction in the past, the effect of additional, human-associated threats may pose a grave threat to the persistence of Tasmanian devil populations. There’s a real fear that Tasmanian devils could become extinct. The identification of a second type of DFTD highlights the importance of ongoing monitoring of wild populations and disease investigations as part of assisting the ongoing survival of the Tasmanian devil in the wild.

Image | © Shane Lin, Some Rights Reserved, (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Sources | (Boyce, 2018; Bradshaw & Brook, 2005; Fahey & Kinder, 2001; Hawkins, McCallum, Mooney, Jones, & Holdsworth, 2008; Nowak, 1999; Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, April 2018,November 2018)

Learn More About the Tasmanian Devil


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.