Researchers studying one of Australia’s most elusive native animals, the Tasmanian devils, have found they have a feeding habit that “breaks the laws” of scavengers.
Professor Tracey Rogers of the School of Biological, Terrestrial and Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) said that unlike all other scavengers, which “feed on whatever is available, each once it is available “, animals are” difficult “.
In a study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Ecology and evolution, the Rogers team analyzed the eating habits of around 70 devils in the Australian island state of Tasmania, the Xinhua news agency reported.
They followed the nocturnal carnivores by analyzing a mustache from each devil. The hairs bear chemical imprints that are distinctive of what they have eaten.
Only about 10 percent ate whatever was available, most sticking to their favorite foods, including native marsupials such as wallabies and opossums or native birds such as rosellas.
“It’s a scavenger’s job to just be a generalist and take whatever he can find,” Rogers said. “But we found out that most Tasmanian devils are selective eaters – they broke scavenger laws.”
Researchers believe that the devils’ agitation could be due to their privileged position in their isolated hunting grounds.
“If you’re a scavenger in Africa then you’re competing with all of these other predators,” Rogers said. “But in Tasmania, there are no other predators or competition for carcasses. Their main competition is just each other.”
The team found that the heaviest devils tended to be the pickiest as well. This could mean that the size of the animal is a determining factor in its choice of food, or that specializing in certain foods could cause a devil to gain weight.
The number of Tasmanian devils has fallen since the 1990s, when a highly contagious disease, Devil’s Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD), decimated their numbers.
DFTD has a high death rate: if a demon introduces it to its colony, it is likely to wipe out over 75% of its population within five years.
Conservation groups subsequently tried to minimize the spread of DFTD by keeping some populations in captivity until it was safer to release them.
The researchers hope their dietary study could help these groups determine the best way to care for marsupials.
Their next project is to take a closer look at why devils make certain food choices. For example, do they consciously select foods, choose foods that other devils are not interested in, or simply choose the foods that are most abundant?
“We would be looking at why devils turn to certain foods, like pademelons and opossums, and whether humans have a role to play in that specialization,” Rogers said.
The above article was posted from a wireframe source with minimal title and text edits.