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Devil of a good time

DEVIL’S ON THE DETAIL: Australia Zoo’s Beth Gibson and Amanda Brown with two of the offspring of Presley, Brian and Troy.
DEVIL’S ON THE DETAIL: Australia Zoo’s Beth Gibson and Amanda Brown with two of the offspring of Presley, Brian and Troy. John Mccutcheon

PRESLEY knows how to woo a lady. The Tasmanian devil has been called upon once again to do his part for his endangered species by participating in Australia Zoo's annual breeding program for the second year in a row.

Last year's program at the Sunshine Coast attraction was its most successful to date as five joeys were born and all but one were his.

Staff are in the process of introducing him to potential partner Narahi in the coming days.

Native mammals supervisor Beth Gibson said from there it was a waiting game.

"Our ultimate goal is to just continue getting those numbers up," Ms Gibson said.

"Being a critically endangered species it's imperative we do what we can. There have been a couple of years where we didn't get any joeys. It's nothing we worry too much about. It could be that the female wasn't fertile enough or it could be the age of devils. There are a lot of factors."

Ms Gibson said no one breeding program was more important than another.

"I believe all breeding programs are just as important as the devils. We've got a lot of animals within Australia that are just as vulnerable as these guys," she said.

Once Presley and Narahi have been introduced and if their personalities are a match, they remain together for five to 10 days. Then it will take 21 days until it is known if breeding was successful.

After 21 days, if successful, a Tasmanian devil will be born. However, the joey will remain in its mother's pouch for four months.

Female devils usually raise two young at a time, but can carry up to four in their pouch. Ms Gibson said the breeding period for devils lasted from late January to May.

Encouraging strong devil numbers is imperative for the species.

The zoo now has 10 devils.

For details on Australia Zoo's conservation work with Tasmanian devils, go to australiazoo.com.au/conservation/projects/tasmanian-devils.

Devil in the detail

Tasmanian Devils are the largest living carnivorous marsupial (Dasyurid) in Australia. They have sharp powerful claws and a backward facing pouch. Male devils have a head to body length of 652mm. Females are smaller, reaching only 570mm in length.

Male Tasmanian Devils can weigh up to 12kg, and females up to 10kg. Each Devil has distinctive white markings on their chest, which is used like a fingerprint to identify individuals.

More than 5000 years ago, Tasmanian Devils were common on mainland Australia.

Today, they are only found in Tasmania.

They are however, found in virtually every type of habitat occurring in Tasmania, including suburban fringes.

They are shy, nocturnal creatures and are rarely seen in the wild.

They often scavenge dead animals found on roadsides. Sadly, many of them are hit by cars while feeding.

Topics:  australia zoo, tasmanian devil


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