Not just kittens

It’s not just kittens that live under the house at Kibbenjelok.  For a few days I had been hearing funny little growls under and around the house in the middle of the night.  We have quite a few possums and pademelons around the garden which come down to feed on the grass in the evening and then tromp up and down the veranda, keeping us awake all night.  Despite their cuddly looks, both can be quite fearsome and will growl at each other given the slightest provocation (mainly food).  “Maybe it’s just the p-animals having a tussle” I thought.  “I wish they’d keep it down”.

Surely something this cute couldn't make those awful growling noises??

Surely something this cute couldn’t make those awful growling noises??

The previous owner had mentioned to us that a Tasmanian Devil used to den and raise her young under the house – a claim I really wanted to believe but was skeptical, especially when he mentioned that the young used to cavort like puppies and come and tap on the living room french doors (hmmm – was this after one too many schnapps perhaps??).  One morning, at about 4:30am, enough was enough. The growling was out of hand, not to mention the thumping and bumping from beneath the house as if a herd of elephants was having a party under there.  I needed to sort these sleep disrupters out!  I forced myself out of bed, grabbed a torch, looked out into the garden and saw this:

One of my "elephants" - a Tasmania Devil imp

One of my “elephants” – a Tasmanian Devil

TASMANIAN DEVILS!  IN OUR GARDEN!!  HOW EXCITING!!! All up three – a mother and her two babies living under our house.  Did you know that:

  • Tasmanian Devil babies are called “imps”
  • Devil mums can give birth to up to 40 young, which are the size of a grain of sand.  Mum only has four teats, so just a small percentage of devil young make it to adulthood
  • Devils are carnivores and eat the whole animal (the first snout to tail diners??).  They’ll even eat an echidna, spines and all!
  • Devils were once spread across all of Australia, however are now only found in the wild in Tasmania

Devil Facial Tumour Disease – a type of cancer – was discovered in Tasmanian devils in the the mid 1990s.  The disease is contagious and always fatal.  It is estimated than more than 80% of the wild Devil popoulation has been lost and the Tasmanian Devil is now listed as endangered.

I’m happy to say that all three of our Devils look disease free.  The young chased each other around the garden, wrestled with a thistle (child’s play compared to an echidna) and yes, generally acted like little puppies.  I hope they stay around for many years to come (and with a bit of luck I’ll get better photos next time).

The imps tangle with a thistle - honing their skills for echidna snacks!

The imps tangle with a thistle – honing their skills for echidna snacks!

The young Tasmanian Devils playing in the garden

The young Tasmanian Devils playing in the garden

Tasmanian Devils, cavorting like puppies

Tasmanian Devils, cavorting like puppies

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