In the Wild

The smell of food brings devils together. They create an order about who eats whatand when. They growl. They sneeze. They bark. Each sound means a different thing. They combine their sounds with biting. And that’s where trouble began.

Tasmanian devils use their excellent sense of smell to avoid predators and locate prey and carrion.

These Tasmanian devils “talk” over dinner.

Trouble in Tasmania

One day, a photographer took a picture of some devils. He saw growths on their faces. He showed his pictures to scientists. They learned that the devils had a rare kind of cancer. It spreads from devil to devil through biting. Devils often die from this cancer.

A cancer spreads between Tasmanian devils when sick animals bite healthy ones.

Protecting Devils 

Scientists wanted to help. They began breeding healthy devils in a safe place. These devils did not have the cancer.

They trapped wild devils to study them, too. They made records of each devil’s health and then released them.

a young Tasmanian devil

Breeding programs made sure that disease-free devils would live on.

This devil is released from a trap that helps scientists watch over its health.

In the lab, scientists are working on a medicine for the sick devils. Some devils are getting better on their own.

Everyone wants devils to get better. They are important animals!