The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) was given its common name by early European settlers, who were haunted at night by the sound of its spine-chilling screeches and demonic growls.
The largest of the living marsupial carnivores (and Australia’s only specialised mammalian scavenger), the Tasmanian devil resembles a robustly-built, small dog with powerful jaws and a set of large, strong teeth.
Its head is broad, its tail is thick, and its coarse, black fur often has irregular-shaped white blazes across the chest, shoulders and rump.
Despite its name, appearance and reputation, the Tasmanian devil is actually a shy, wary creature. As for the reputed bad temper it’s mostly bluff. Since many individuals can feed simultaneously on a large carcass, a feisty display is an attempt to intimidate others and thus avoid a fight.