Q:

What is the life cycle of the Tasmanian devil?

A:

Quick Answer

Tasmanian devils are typically born in litters of two or three after a gestation of 21 days and continue development in the mother's pouch while nursing for an additional four months. They are weaned between five and six months and leave their mothers at eight months. They reach sexual maturity at 2 years old and breed every year for an average maximum lifespan of five years.

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Full Answer

Most young Tasmanian devils die immediately upon leaving their mothers due to food scarcity or competition. Those that survive live as scavengers and opportunistic predators of insects, larvae and snakes. They find their food mostly through a keen sense of smell, although all their senses are relatively acute. They also occasionally eat small amounts of vegetation. They are typically solitary, but they congregate around a large carcass to feed, although their interactions are still marked by displays of aggression.

Adult Tasmanian devils have few natural predators, despite a weight of around 26 pounds, as they are armed with formidable jaws and teeth. They are stocky and lumbering, with brown-black fur and a pinkish snout. They store any fat accumulations in their tails. They are relatively common on the island of Tasmania, but their population is threatened by a rapidly spreading cancer-like disease.

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