Tasmanian devils in Victoria!

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Article from ‘The Australiasian’ Saturday 24 August 1912.

The interesting problem as to whether the Tasmanian devil still exists in a wild state in Victoria is now being seriously discussed in scientific circles. Up to the present it has only been known to occur in Tasmania, where, like the marsupial wolf or tiger, it is now only found in the wildest and roughest parts of the country. That it once existed, not only in Victoria, but in other parts of Australia, is proved by the discovery at various times of its fossil remains. In Victoria quite perfect skulls and portions of the lower jaws have been found at Queenscliff, Gisborne, on the surface near the shores of Lake Corangamite (near Camperdown), and, among other bones of still existing marsupials, on a kitchen midden, or native camp of the aborigines, between Warrnambool and Port Fairy. Some of these remains, from their appearance, are so recent that they might easily have belonged to an animal which lived but a few years ago.

The Tasmanian Devil in Victoria. The picture that accompanied the article from 'The Australiasian' newspaper - Saturday 24 August 1912

The Tasmanian Devil in Victoria. The picture that accompanied the article from ‘The Australiasian’ newspaper – Saturday 24 August 1912

In discussing this matter, at a recent meeting of the Field Naturalists’ Club, one member stated that he had seen an animal in the Werribee Gorge, near Bacchus Marsh, which he thought could only be a Tasmanian devil. Little weight was attached to this statement at the time, but, curiously enough, an animal was sent to the Melbourne museum a few days ago, which Mr. Kershaw at once recognised as a full grown Tasmanian devil. It was killed at Tooborac, beyond Kilmore, about 63 miles from Melbourne. Mr. W. E. Prince, who forwarded the animal, says:-“It was got by Mr. Thos. Mason whilst wood-cutting. His dog smelt it out, and attracted his attention by repeatedly barking. Upon cutting open the log he secured the specimen.” Has any such animal been known to have escaped and to remain uncaptured, and, if so, where, and how long ago? Mr. Le Souef, director of the Zoological-gardens, states that during the existence of the Zoo two or three have been known to escape from there, but all were recaptured shortly afterwards. He is not aware of any having been kept in confinement in Victoria outside the Zoo. It is an animal which, once seen, could not be mistaken. It is about the size of a bulldog, with a rather massive head and powerful teeth; quite black in colour, with usually a white V-shaped marking across the chest, and, occasionally, two or three patches on the body. During the day it inhabits hollow logs or holes in the ground, and, when disturbed, expresses its anger by a kind of yelling growl.

Source: ‘The Australiasian’ newspaper (Melbourne, Victoria) Saturday 24 August 1912. Accessed: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/143276535/3?print=n





2017-06-05T05:08:51+00:00 September 29th, 2015|Rewilding Australia Blog|2 Comments


  1. Sabir January 6, 2016 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    I have come on a holiday from England and have been fascinated by the Tasmanian devil and also have been to the Melbourne zoo to see one amongst the other various animals they have captive there. But earlier on today I stepped out of my relatives house and looked out on the driveway to see a animal that I am 80-90% percent sure was a Tasmanian Devil. It had seen me and quickly climbed a tree I did not take any pictures as it was too dark and it had hid behind the leaves in the tree, I also did not want to aggravate it. I then thought to myself if they should be still in the wild and as I have done some research I have realised there are not many or it is very rare to see one as I did. I just wanted to share this to see if anyone else has had a similar experience as me n if this was really possible.

    • Chris November 23, 2016 at 7:02 am - Reply

      Hello Sabir,

      I maintain the website at http://mainlanddevils.com.au .

      Until very recently, most people would have said that Tasmanian devils do not climb trees. However I recently saw some camera trap footage of a devil doing exactly that. So while it is possible, it is still very unlikely that you saw a devil climb a tree. It might be possible you saw a brushtail possum or mountain brushtail possum – these are about the same size and do climb trees very well.


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