When most people envision Tasmanian devils they conjure up the whirlwind cartoon version, but that’s fairly far from the truth.
Unlike many other Tasmanian animals, the devil is notoriously difficult to see in the wild. Their excellent sense of smell and reserved nature makes them extremely difficult to creep up on unannounced.
Thankfully, just outside the iconic Cradle Mountain National Park, around 3 hours 50 minutes from Hobart is the Devils@Cradle sanctuary, which gives you the perfect opportunity to see these unique carnivorous marsupials in a realistic natural setting.
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Tasmanian Devils in their natural environment
Many zoos and sanctuaries these days are filled with horrible artificial enclosures that only benefit the paying customer, luckily Devils@Cradle are not your typical sanctuary and have taken a realistic approach to animal welfare.
They’ve created a natural home for the Tasmanian Devils to roam and display behaviours similar to those in the wild populations. If you removed the discreet fencing it would be very easy to imagine yourself standing in one of the many beautiful temperate rainforest areas found around Tasmania.
The layout of the sanctuary is easy to navigate, with rustic natural pathways beginning at the main devil enclosure and winding around the smaller devil enclosures which radiate outwards.
The sanctuary contains devils ranging from newborns, energetic juveniles, mature breeding adults, parents and those enjoying retirement. This basically equates to you either watching a devil sleeping, being hyperactive, nursing babies, running around, being noisy or play fighting. Or possibly a combination of them all!
But no matter what they end up doing, watching the devils is extremely enjoyable and It’s surprising how easy it is for time to slip by while watching a pack of adorable baby devils wrestle and play fight.
On the outer perimeter of the sanctuary, you’ll find the quoll enclosures, which house the sleek and predatory Spotted-tail Quoll with its brown and contrasting white spotted fur and the smaller grey and white spotted Eastern Quoll.
Much like the devils, the quolls are extremely entertaining to watch. They seem to either be fast asleep or borderline hyperactive with seemingly unlimited energy, constantly rushing around and climbing at breakneck speeds.
The information centre is the perfect place to learn everything you could wish to know about devils and quolls. And to warm up during the winter months in front of the warm log fire.
Information boards around the room detail the fascinating facts about these carnivorous marsupials including their mating habits, reproduction cycles, feeding habits, distribution and more.
Learn about the Tasmanian Aboriginal legends surrounding the devils and view a variety of animal skulls including the quolls, devils and the now extinct Tasmanian Tiger
Saving the tasmanian devils and Quolls
As a member of the Save The Tasmanian Devil Program and the Tasmanian Quoll Conservation Program, Devils@Cradle actively helps in the battle to save the endangered devil and the vulnerable quoll species of Tasmania.
The Tasmanian Devil population has been severely impacted by DFTD (Devil Facial Tumour Disease), a transmittable parasitic cancer that develops into large tumours around the facial region of the infected devil.
These tumours cause difficulty with feeding and almost always leads to starvation for the devil. Sadly, DFTB is believed to have almost halved the wild devil population in Tasmania.
Quoll numbers are also in decline due to habitat destruction, roadkill and illegal baiting, trapping and hunting as they’re often seen as a threat by farmers since they will actively hunt and take poultry. Predation by introduced feral and domestic cats is also a large concern.
Devils@Cradle helps ensure the survival of these species by engaging in the monitoring of wild populations, rehabilitating orphaned animals, and ensuring a disease-free captive-bred population exists with enough genetic diversity to re-introduce and re-populate when necessary.
Besides the general entry and free day keeper tour, Devils@Cradle offers a wide range of premium tour options for an additional price.
The tour options include a Day Feeding Tour, After Dark Feeding Tour, the Sunset Experience and the Joey Encounter.
I personally did the Joey Encounter and enjoyed it immensely. Getting up close and even patting a baby devil and quoll was a real highlight.
Devils@Cradle is a fantastic sanctuary, not only for educational purposes but also for their conservation efforts. If you’re in the Cradle Mountain area, a visit to Devils@Cradle is highly recommended as it’s the easiest way to see devils and quolls. Those with a pair of keen eyes might even catch sight of a Tasmanian Tiger lurking in the depths of the forest.
- 1-2 hours