If you’re a fan of old Bugs Bunny cartoons, you’re probably familiar with the Tasmanian Devil. Did you realize the cartoon character is based on a real animal, though? It’s true. Tasmanian devils are real creatures that live in the wild on the island state of Tasmania in Australia.

If you’ve ever seen the cartoon Tasmanian Devil, you know it’s a whirling, snarling, ferocious creature. In reality, Tasmanian devils aren’t much different! About the size of small dogs, Tasmanian devils are the largest carnivorous (meat-eating) marsupials in the world.

Tasmanian devils are notorious for being cranky. If they feel threatened by a predator or believe they need to defend their food, they will often fly into a ferocious rage. Early settlers of Tasmania who witnessed these animals screeching, growling and baring their teeth gave them the name “devil.”

Although they can be quite fierce, Tasmanian devils usually don’t attack human beings. They will defend themselves if they feel threatened, but they prefer to run away rather than stay and fight.

Tasmanian devils are solid and muscular with brown or black fur and a unique, strong smell. They will eat just about any type of meat, including prey animals and the carcasses of dead animals. And when they eat, they eat everything — including hair, organs and even bones!

Although it may sound kind of gross, Tasmanian devils provide a useful service by eating sick and dead animals. By doing so, they help prevent diseases from spreading and keep populations of certain species in check.

Tasmanian devils have large heads and necks, which make them look a bit like small bears and give them one of the strongest bites of any mammal on Earth. They tend to live alone and are nocturnal, only venturing out at night to hunt for food.

Despite their stocky appearance, Tasmanian devils can run long distances with surprising speed. They can also climb trees and swim across rivers.

Although there used to be many Tasmanian devils throughout Australia, they can now only be found on the island state of Tasmania. As of 2008, they now are considered endangered. In the past 20 years, a rare contagious cancer — called Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) — has killed tens of thousands of Tasmanian devils.

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    • Look at all the WONDERing you’ve been doing, Monkey Geek! We thought the Tasmanian devil was just a cartoon character at first, too! However, we are all learning something new together– how great! :)

    • That is a SUPER thing to Wonder, Siddman! There are lots of different ways that animals in the wild can prevent getting sick– they have different immunities that help their bodies stay strong. If a human were to eat an animal that had been infected, we would most likely get sick. Additionally, the disease that is affecting these animals could be linked to the prey that they eat, too. We Wonder if you can do some research of your own, or ask your librarian to help you find out more about the health of Tasmanian devils. We’d LOVE to hear about what you find! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Wonder Friend C! We’re glad you liked seeing all the different Tasmanian devils! :)

  1. Good morning Wonderopolis,

    The Hoppers said…
    -They look like dogs.
    -Do they smell like a skunk?
    -Poor Tasmanian Devils. Why are they dying so quickly?
    -I really want to see one.
    -Is there anyway to save them from the disease?
    -They are cute.
    -How does the cancer spread?
    -Awesome.

    As you can see the Hoppers really enjoyed this morning’s wonder. Thank you for keeping us wondering!

    All smiles,
    The Magnificent Hoppers

    • Hello to our Wonder Friends The Hoppers! We’re oh-so-glad you’ve joined us to Wonder today! :)

      We are so happy to read all of your comments about today’s Tasmanian devil Wonder! There is so much WONDERing happening that we are smiling from ear to ear!

      Unfortunately, a lot of the Tasmanian devils are facing hard times because of the rare cancer that is being spread from animal to animal. Scientists believe it’s being spread through biting, which is how they protect themselves and find food for their families at night. There are lots of zoos and organizations in Australia that are working hard to help these animals. We Wonder if you can find some more information on the help these animals are receiving.

      We’re very proud of all of you, Magnificent Hoppers! GREAT WORK! :)

  2. Mrs. Wright’s 2nd graders WONDER if tasmanian devils are related to any other animals like bears or badgers or dogs? Do they spin when they are in a frenzy? How did the cancer start? Mr. P. REALLY enjoys imitating the tasmanian devil.

    • What a great Wonder from the 2nd grade students in Mrs. Wright’s class! Our Wonder Friends are working hard this Friday– YOU ROCK! :)

      The Tasmanian devil is believed to be closely related to the opossum, but they do make wild gestures when they are in a frenzy! We bet you’re all having a great time WONDERing with Mr. P today– keep up the great work! :)

  3. I have heard about these little devil looking
    creatures.They’re so cute but they’re not! I know,
    it doesn’t make sense! I think tomorrows wonder will be black panthers.

    • We’re glad to hear you’re WONDERing about the Tasmanian devil with us today, Isabel! They can look cute, but they are feisty in order to protect themselves! Thanks for joining us today and for sharing your guess, too! We hope to Wonder with you tomorrow! :)

  4. We really enjoyed the video and reading about the Tasmanian Devil!

    There were a lot of “ewww’s!” from the class when we read about them eating all of their prey’s body parts.

    Many of our wonders were about size, speed and if they had natural predators.

    • Great job Wonder Friends in Mr. Carrico’s 3rd grade class! We are so proud of all the WONDERing you’ve been doing today! We are glad you joined us today to learn about that crazy Tasmanian devil! Have a WONDERful weekend! :)

  5. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We thought Tazmanian Devils would make cute pets but now we know better! We wonder if anyone has them as pets? Can they be domesticated?

    We are also wondering how long they live for?

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about monkey’s or apes???

    Thanks for keeping us wondering!

    Mrs. Van O’s grade 3/4 class

    • WOHOO, our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Van O’s grade 3/4 class are here today! What a SUPER Friday! :)
      We think you’ve been doing a super job of WONDERing about the crazy Tasmanian devil! Because there are only Tasmanian devils left on one island, they are not allowed to be taken to other places or live in houses. We Wonder if you can do some more research on your own about their average lifespan! :)

      Thanks for sharing your super guess with us– we can’t wait to find out what tomorrow will bring! :)

    • We’re sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy our Wonder too much today, Nicky J! We hope you have a SUPER day and come back to Wonder with us soon! :)

  6. I thought that this thing was cute at first but once I read this I felt disgusted. But I still think that this thing is still cute.

    • Hi there Kaley, we’re glad you read our Wonder today! :) We appreciate you sharing your comment, even if your first reaction to the Tasmanian devil wasn’t too great. We hope you have a SUPER day! :)

  7. Wow! They are so cute!!! I love this article. It’s so interesting. They do look like small bears! But, in my opinion they are SUPER cute. ~Gina.

    • Thanks for sharing your SUPER comment, Gina M! We agree– Tasmanian devils look like smaller versions of bears! We are glad you joined us to Wonder today– it’s a SUPER day to hang out with our Wonder Friends! :)

    • Oh no, Tyler, we are SUPER glad that you got away! We hope you learned something new about these animals– they can be aggressive at times! Thanks for sharing your comment today! :)

    • Hi there Wonder FRIEND! We appreciate your comment about Tasmanian devils– it can be a tough call to decide if they are cute or not-so-cute… but we’re glad you’re here today! :)

    • Hi there, Lyrra, we are glad you’re WONDERing with us today! We liked your Medieval comment, too! We Wonder if you learned anything new about the Tasmanian devil today?! :)

    • That’s a great Wonder, Hunter! We know that the Tasmanian devils’ teeth are quite sharp and strong, like a bear’s! We are so glad you’ve been WONDERing with us today! :)

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend Barbie Doll! We’re glad you liked our Wonder about those crazy Tasmanian devils– and they are real, too! :)

  8. I NEVER EVER knew that the Tasmanian devil exist until last year. I saw lots of Tasmanian devils photos online. I was like: WOW! Thank You Wonderpolis for this video!!

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend P, we’re so glad you learned something new with us about the cool Tasmanian devils! They sure are interesting! We’re glad you’re here today! :)

    • Great question, Wonder Friend P! When the animals were first discovered, the shrieking sounds they made were very devilish– and that is how they got their common name, the Tasmanian devil. However, each animal has a latin-based classification and name… we Wonder if you can find out what the Tasmanian devil’s scientific name is? :)

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend B! We’re glad you’re WONDERing with us today– we hope you enjoyed learning about the real Tasmanian devil– the one that Tazz was created after! Thanks for sharing your comment today! :)

    • We’re glad you liked WONDERing about the Tasmanian devil, Raymond! How interesting to learn about their habits– and that they only live on one island! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

    • Great point, Ellie! We learned that the Tasmanian devil’s teeth help when they are stalking their prey to feed themselves. We think you made a great observation today– thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

    • Great point, Missy! These Tasmanian devils resemble a wolf and a bear– they might be cute but they can be scrappy! We’re glad you’re WONDERing with us today! :)

    • We’re glad you liked WONDERing about the Tasmanian devil, Rose! We think they are pretty cute, too! We bet you’ll enjoy our Wonder tomorrow… it’s a discovery! :)

  9. They were so cute!!!!! I loved the song, it was very funny. And I think at one part the song said ‘hey little devil I’m gonna make you my girl’ so basically the guy who sang that song is saying he wants to date a female Tasmanian devil.

    • Hi there, Fliss! We think you’re doing a great job of WONDERing about the Tasmanian devil with us– way to go! :)

      We like your interpretation of the song, and we’re sure there are many different ways to listen to that song. We’re so glad you visited today, Fliss! :)

  10. Tasmanian devils are cute.They are so cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) ;) ;0 I didn’t know that there is a cancer disease!

    • We’re glad you enjoyed WONDERing about Tasmanian devils with us, Kaytlyn and Rori! We are sad to hear about the cancer that affects Tasmanian devils, but we’re glad to learn about them! :)

  11. Hi again. I really hope they are all right!! They look so cute, but I know they are not completely like that. Thank you for all these videos.

    • Hi there again, Rori! We are glad you’re WONDERing with us– it’s great that you’ve learned so much about Tasmanian devils! WAY TO GO! :)

    • WOHOO, that’s music to our ears, Wonder Friends Joshu and Skyelar! It’s fun to Wonder and learn something new together! Have a SUPER day! :)

  12. DEAR WONDEROPOLIS

    I really like your wonderopolis thing that is going on. How did you come up with wonderopolis?

    LOVE YOUR FRIEND, SUMMER

    • Hi there, Summer, we’re so glad you commented today! :) We are glad you enjoy WONDERing with us– there is so much to learn and do at Wonderopolis! A bunch of us here at Wonderopolis wanted to find a way to spread our creative Wonders with students, friends and families all over the place! We’re glad you’re one of our newest Wonder Friends! :)

    • Hi there, David, we are glad you liked today’s Wonder! Sometimes it’s difficult to imagine something when you can’t see it in person. However, we think it’s GREAT that you are using your imagination to enjoy today’s Wonder! :)

  13. Thank you for this amazing wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really liked the song and the video! This is one of my favorite animals EVER and I hope to see more wonders like this! This wonder has inspired me to do a school research project on the Tasmanian devil. I’ll be doing some research on this site. :) But before I finish this comment, what inspired you to create Wonderopolis? How do you come up with these amazing wonders and do you make some of the videos you show or do you just find them on youtube?

    • Hello, Wonder Friend Erin! You’ve got us smiling ear-to-ear with your AWESOME comment! We couldn’t be happier that you are going to do a research project on the Tasmanian devil– there is so much to learn and share! Thanks for letting us know that you’ll be using Wonderopolis for some of your research– we love to hear when we’re helping our Wonder Friends learn, imagine and grow!!

      We really appreciate your question about how Wonderopolis came to be, too! We are a site that encourages students, classrooms, friends and family members to take in the Wonder that is all around us! All of our Wonder Friends here at Wonderopolis really like to research and use our imaginations to provide fun and informational Wonders for you! Sometimes, our Wonder Friends make their own videos, but we have found a lot of cool, helpful videos through vimeo, youtube, and other sites like National Geographic! Thanks for asking such SUPER questions– we’re really proud of you! :)

    • WOHOO, we’re glad you learned something new about that crazy Tasmanian devil, Kiah! We bet it’s fun to imagine a Tasmanian devil in its own habitat! Thanks for commenting today! :)

  14. I really like the Looney Toon shows. I think Taz is really funny. I have never seen a Tasmanian Devil before but I would like to see one in a zoo. I wonder if any zoos in the United States have any?

    • Great connection to our Wonder, Patrick R! We didn’t know that the Tasmanian devil was real until we started WONDERing about it! We learned that the animals are endangered, and unfortunately there are no longer any in United States zoos. In years past, the Fort Wayne, Indiana Zoo had 12 Tasmanian devils, but they are no longer there. We think you’re doing a great job of WONDERing! :)

  15. I think Tasmanian devils are cute IF their teeth are not so strong and big :) :) :) ! I am an animal lover!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    YAY

    • We’re glad that our Tasmanian devil Wonder was right up your alley, Gabe! Thanks for sharing your comment– we hope to see you soon! :)

  16. It was great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. I was wondering if there was something that could cure the Tasmanian Devil disease? I learned that the Tasmanian Devils are the largest marsupials in the world. Using background knowledge, I already knew that the tasmanian devils lived in Australia and they were endangered but I didn’t know why. Do tasmanian devils live in caves or outside near people? I thought the devils were larger than dogs but I was wrong. I think tomorrow’s wonder will be something about typing on the computers because you type on the computer and type is the last word in the hint.

    • Great question, Am7wonder! There are scientists and veterinarians who are trying to help the Tasmanian Devils with cancer get better. These animals tend to live in wooded, forest areas– away from people. They are also like nocturnal animals, so they are really good at detecting movement and other animals while they’re in the dark! :)

    • Thanks so much, Wonder Friend Meow! We are glad this Wonder connected to two of your favorite things! Perhaps you’ll travel to Tasmania to see the Tasmanian devils in their natural habitat! :)

    • Madalyn, aren’t Tasmanian Devils interesting to Wonder about? We want to travel to Tasmania to see them in person! Thanks for visiting us today, Wonder Friend! :)

    • Well thank you so much, Connor, we’re glad to hear that you enjoyed this Wonder video! :)

      We Wonder if you get songs stuck in your head often? We feel like we do from time to time! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Is there really a devil in Tasmania?
  • Why are they called Tasmanian devils?
  • Are Tasmanian devils endangered?

Wonder Gallery

Tasmanian devil shutterstock_13319098Vimeo Video

Try It Out

If you’re familiar with the Tasmanian devil, it’s likely that you were introduced to the creature via cartoons. Grab a friend or family member and watch these fun Tasmanian devil cartoon videos below:

What do you think? Based upon what you’ve learned about the REAL Tasmanian devil, do you think the cartoon character is an accurate portrayal? Why or why not? How are real Tasmanian devils different than the cartoon version? How are they similar?

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Watch National Geographic Education’s Cane Toads video to learn more about these toxic toads from Australia!

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