A distinctive black, or very dark brown, with a white band across the chest, the male Tasmanian devil will attain a total length of around 90cm including the tail and weigh over 8kg. Females rarely exceed 80cm in length and 6kg in weight. The head is dog-like and the ears are large and pinkish-red in colour. The sense of smell is exceptionally acute enabling the animals to locate dead food items from many kilometres away.
The Tasmanian devil prefers wet sclerophyll forest or woodland. It usually lives in a log, cave or the disused burrow of another animal, emerging at night to scavenge and forage.
Despite its formidable reputation, most of the diet comprises carrion. However, adult devils will tackle anything as large as a small wallaby but they are by no means an agile or speedy hunter. Smaller items, such as insects, lizards and fish are also readily taken. Their jaws are extremely powerful and can break even the largest bones, all of which are eaten.
Tasmanian devils are sexually mature at the age of two years. Their mating period is within the months of March and April. The mother gives birth to two to four young, which attach to the teats in her pouch. The young are pouch-bound for around four months and then remain with the mother for a further five or six months before becoming independent. The life span is relatively short and most do not breed after they reach five or six years of age and rarely living more than about eight years.
The Tasmanian devil is solitary but not territorial, with a home range of up to 20 square kilometres in size that may overlap with the ranges of several others. Several adults may congregate at a carcass and feed together, although much squabbling and growling usually takes place.