IN the wild, they can deliver a bite far more powerful than a dog while their mating behaviour is from the cavemen era.
But these little Tasmanian devil joeys were showing no signs of the devilish reputation they endure.
They were more like placid puppies, content to snooze in the arms of the youngest child as long as they felt safe and secure.
Australia Zoo's five baby devils were given their first public outing at the weekend and passed the test with flying colours.
It was only when they briefly yawned that their wickedly sharp teeth were revealed.
Carefully plucked out of a container with the words, devil babies on board, Ebony, Des, Troy, Brian and Raine quietly went into the arms of strangers.
The five, four from one mum and one from another, are all eating meat and steadily putting on weight.
After a big play time in the morning they were content to have an afternoon nap.
Julie Whitely, of Alexandra Head
land, said cuddling the joeys was an awesome experience.
"It was brilliant," she said.
"I was just amazed at the care and dedication of the keepers. They are just so passionate about them."
In the wild, the devils battle for survival. Not only do they have to compete for a teat, they later face the prospect of Devil Facial Tumour Disease, a horrible condition in which they starve to death as their face is covered with tumours.
The disease has caused numbers in Tasmania to drop from about 250,000 in 1996 to about 70,000 in recent years.
Without breeding programs like that at Australia Zoo, they could be wiped out in 10 to 15 years.
Darling Devil Encounters Package Details
Australia Zoo is one of the few places in the world where you can get this close to these unique and largely misunderstood amazing animals.
Timing and Days
- One Darling Devils encounter is held daily. Encounters run from 3:00pm - 3:20pm. Participants meet at the Information Desk 10 minutes prior to encounter. Minimum age 8 years.
- Maximum 2 people per encounter.
- Please enquire how families of up to 4 people can participate.
Bookings can be made at the Information Desk by 2:30pm on the day of the encounter or can be made in advance by calling (07) 5436 2002 or by email via our contact form.
DEVILISH MATING PRACTICES
- Males will fight voraciously with other males for the right to mate with a female.
- The male will then often grab the female by the scruff of the neck and drag her into a nest or cave, keeping her subdued and a prisoner for days without food or water.
- Devils mate continuously for about 15 seconds then take a break for about 20 minutes before they are back at it again.
- Once pregnant, the female becomes aggressive once more and turns the male out of the den. She will carry up to 40 embryos for just three weeks, and then give birth to thumbnail sized babies.
- Only the toughest babies survive as they compete for one of only four teats in the mother's pouch.
- Once weaned, 60% will die within the first few months due to competition for food.
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