Our visit to Tasmania was near the end of our Australia trip and despite visits to two different wildlife parks, we still had not seen a Tasmanian Devil. While in Richmond, we found the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park about an hour away. We weren’t really sure what to expect, but we really wanted to see Tasmanian Devils and Tasmania is the only place they are found in the wild. Our impression was that they were ferocious and approximately the size of a medium-size dog.
The Tasmanian Devil is endangered due to its loss of habitat and a cancer that appeared in 1996. It is spread to each other by their bite and is horribly disfiguring for them and has a 100% mortality rate. The park is entirely free of the cancer, so devils raised here are in a safe environment.
We saw four different enclosures at the park and found the devils are quite cute and much smaller, about the size of small cat. They are ferocious, but don’t look it at first glance. They are a carnivorous marsupial (most marsupials are plant-eaters) with incredibly strong jaws. Although smaller than a pit bull, their jaws have similar strength. They are also scavengers rather than hunters, so their prey has to be dead or nearly dead.
It was interesting to watch the devils interact with each other. They often “spar” or fight, particularly over food. Even though they are capable of inflicting pretty severe harm on each other, they do not, although it looks and sounds fierce. We watched a feeding and they eat absolutely everything including the bones and fur. You can hear them crunching! There was nothing left when they were done. Interestingly, after they had finished eating, they spent several minutes very politely washing their paws and face.
At one of the enclosures, you can crawl through a tube and pop up in a plastic bubble above ground, right in the middle of the enclosure. If a devil comes by, you are face-to-face with him, protected, of course, by the bubble. It’s a fascinating way to bring visitors up close to the devils.
The park has several birds that for various reasons cannot live in the wild. We were able to watch a demonstration, and Jenna even participated when a cockatoo collected a coin from her hand. He even returned it at the end of the demonstration!
We were also fortunate to see another marsupial called an eastern quoll. He is also meat-eating and is very agile, able to climb trees and chase birds. They have two color combinations, grey or black, both with white spots. We saw both color combinations, but they were not very active when we were there.
The park also has a large kangaroo enclosure and we were fortunate enough to visit during their feeding, so once again, we were feeding kangaroos! Like cuddling with koalas, you just can’t get too much kangaroo time. These guys loved having their neck scratched. They would stretch their head up so you could reach them better. There were several joeys and one grey kangaroo that is a different species from the rest. In the wild, he lives alone in the bush. This guy was very shy and would not eat out of your hand. We got close to him, but he remained wary. The photos “speak” volumes about how much fun we had! Hope you enjoy.
The Tasmanian Devil Park was a last minute “add-on”. We almost decided not to go, but are so very glad we did!