Thylacinus cynocephalus (Tasmanian Tiger)

Related Articles

Taxonomy

Common names: Tasmanian tiger, Tasmanian wolf, Marsupial wolf, hyena, zebra-wolf

History

  • once widespread
  • disappeared from mainland Australia 2000 – 3000 years ago; probably suffered in competition with dingoes
  • ran into problems with European settlers in Tasmania when the animals affected livestock

1830 *

  • a bounty system for thylacine scalps was introduced; firstly by the Van Dieman’s Land Co and then by the State Government

1933 *

  • last wild thylacine was shot

1936 *

  • last captive thylacine died in Hobart zoo

1936

  • thylacine declared a protected species

1945-46

  • David Fleay led a ‘ tiger hunt’ to the west coast of Tasmania; found fresh tracks and baited traps to capture an animal; a Thylacine approached a trap but escaped

1960

  • part of the lower jaw aged around 10,000 years was found in New Guinea

1963

  • almost complete skeleton found in a cave on the Nullabor Plain; aged about 3250 years

1966

  • almost complete mummified carcass found in a cave near Eucla, WA; aged about 4500 years

1980

  • comprehensive search fails to find anything

1982

  • sighting by National Parks & Wildlife Officer

1984

  • extensive search failed to find any evidence
  • sightings and collections of dung and hair continue to be reported but there has been no firm evidence
  • there have been numerous ‘sightings’ in southwest WA and in VIC

Appearance

  • dog-like
  • carnivorous marsupial
  • body length of 1.2m (4ft); tail length 0.5m (1.6ft); weight 25kg (55lb)
  • 15-20 dark stripes across its back and rump
  • backward-opening pouch
  • rigid tail like a kangaroo – couldn’t be wagged
  • enormous jaw gape; when a thylacine yawned, the upper and lower
  • jaws formed almost a straight line

Habitat

  • open woodlands with rocky outcrops where lairs were established

Diet

  • wallabies, bandicoots and other small marsupials, echidnas, birds, reptiles
  • sheep, chickens

Lifestyle

  • not seen very often even when relatively common
  • spent the day in cave except for basking in midday sun
  • hunted from dusk to dawn, usually alone
  • followed the scent of its prey
  • chased prey at a measured pace until prey was exhausted
  • killed by biting the neck

Reproduction

  • mating season was in spring
  • young found in the pouch all year round
  • produced 3 or 4 young that were 2 cm long
  • young left pouch after 3-4 months but kept returning for milk until 9 months

References – books

  • Australia’s Amazing Wildlife, 1985. Bay Books, Kensington NSW.
  • Complete Book Of Australian Mammals, R Strahan (ed), 1983. Angus & Robertson Publishers, London.
  • Encyclopedia of Australian Wildlife, Reader’s Digest Australia Pty Ltd, 1997. Reader’s Digest (Australia) Pty Ltd, Surrey Hills.
  • Wildlife Conservation, HJ Frith, 1979. Angus & Robertson, London.
  • A Natural History of Australia, 1998. TM Berra, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.
  • Bunyips & Bigpoots, M Smith, 1996. Millennium Books, Alexandria.
  • Talking of Animals, D Fleay, 1956. Jacaranda Press, Brisbane.

More on this topic

Previous articlePied Butcherbird
Next articleBilby

Popular stories

Little Penguins

Little Penguins are the smallest of the species of penguin. Growing on average to a height of 33cm and a kilogram, with...

Blue-tongued Skinks

FAMILY: ScincidaeGenusSpeciesSub-speciesCommon Name*b-t = blue-tongueSnout-ventLengthTail:Body RatioTiliquascinoidescommon b-tintermedianorthern b-t30cm /13inworld'slargest skink.5 - .75scinoideseastern b-toccipitalis western b-t30cm/13in.5multifasciata centralian b-t29cm/11in.5nigrolutea blotched or southern b-t25cm /10in.5adelaidensis Adelaide pygmy b-t9cm/4in.67

Perentie

The Perentie is the largest of the monitor lizards in Australia and the fourth largest on earth. Found primarily in central Australia...