Animal Diaries Archive
Devil Facial Tumour Disease
30 June 2006
A frequently asked question we get about Tasmanian Devils is what is the progress with the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD)?
In case you’re wondering what the disease actually is, DFTD is a term used to describe a fatal condition found in Tasmanian Devils. Its characteristics involve obvious tumours or cancers firstly found around and in the mouth area, and progressively furthering itself to the neck and body. These cancers then affect the way the devil ingests its food, and causes the animal to succumb to starvation and the breakdown of bodily functions.
Scientists have been studying the tumour cells in detail and found rather interesting information. They have already found that it is directly transmitted between animals, and they are now trying to find answers to what causes it, possible preventatives for the future, and how to diagnose it before obvious symptoms occur.
Wildlife officers have also been working hard with developing monitoring programs. Information from these surveys suggests the disease generally affects both male and female adult devils equally. Also they have found no diseased Tasmanian Devils in the north-west or west coast populations of Tasmania at this point. But estimates indicate that in some infected areas, populations have declined up to 80%.
It is an ongoing battle to save this beautiful species, which is our largest carnivorous marsupial. It is a pleasure to be able to work with this animal in captivity, and we are all very happy that our five devils are extremely healthy!
Our Amazing Tasmanian Devils
Tasmanian Devils are the largest living carnivorous marsupial (Dasyurid) in Australia. They have sharp powerful claws and a backward facing pouch. Male dev ...more