Tasmanian Devils are solitary and nocturnal, spending their days alone in hollow logs, caves, or burrows, and emerging at night to feed.
They use their long whiskers and excellent sense of smell and sight to avoid predators and locate prey and carrion.
They’ll eat pretty much anything they can get their teeth on, and when they do find food, they are voracious, consuming everything—including hair, organs, and bones.
Mothers give birth after about three weeks of pregnancy to 20 or 30 very tiny young. These raisin-size babies crawl up the mother’s fur and into her pouch. However, the mother has only four nipples, so only a handful of babies survive. Infants emerge after about four months and are generally weaned by the sixth month and on their own by the eighth.
Once abundant throughout Australia Tasmanian devils are now indigenous only to the island state of Tasmania.
Their Tasmanian range encompasses the entire island, although they are partial to coastal scrublands and forests. Biologists speculate that their extinction on the mainland is attributable to the introduction of Asian dogs, or dingoes.
Efforts in the late 1800s to eradicate Tasmanian devils, which farmers erroneously believed were killing livestock (although they were known to take poultry), were nearly successful.
In 1941, the government made devils a protected species, and their numbers have grown steadily since.
Tragically, though, a catastrophic illness discovered in the mid-1990s has killed tens of thousands of Tasmanian devils.
Called devil facial tumor disease (DFTD), this rapidly spreading condition is a rare contagious cancer that causes large lumps to form around the animal’s mouth and head, making it hard for it to eat.
The animal eventually starves to death. Animal health experts are sequestering populations where the disease has not yet appeared and are focusing on captive breeding programs to save the species from extinction.
Because of the outbreak, the Australian government has listed Tasmanian devils as vulnerable.
Bear mother and cub playing in the winter forest, Alaska.
The Trump administration is moving to reverse Obama-era rules barring hunters on some public lands in Alaska from baiting bears with bacon and doughnuts and using spotlights to shoot mother bears and their cubs hibernating in dens.
What could be better than two tiny leopard cubs? Three tiny leopard cubs, of course!
At least, that’s the attitude of administrators at Denver Zoo, who welcomed the addition of a female, clouded leopard cub to join the zoo’s two existing cubs of the same species. Zookeepers hope this addition will increase the chances that these rare cats will one day breed successfully.
The new cub joined a male, clouded leopard cub named Pi, and a female named Rhu, both born at the Denver Zoo.
Despite their name, these clouded leopard cubs are not actually leopards at all. They belong to their own genus, Neofelis, and are considered a bridge species between typical big cats (like lions and tigers) and small cats (like pumas, lynx and ocelots).
The clouded leopard cubs living at Denver Zoo will grow to between two to four feet long and will likely weigh between 24 to 50 pounds.
As to the celestial part of their name, the cats have distinctive, cloud-shaped blotches on their coats, which provide excellent camouflage in their native forest habitat.
The Jaguar (Panthera Onca) is the third-largest of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and the only living member native to the western hemisphere.
Growing up to 160 kg (350 lb), Jaguars are distinguished by rosette-emblazoned fur, comparatively short tails and an exceptionally powerful bite that enables them to successfully prey on armored reptiles such as caimans and turtles.
(Images via: Fanpop and WWF/Go Wild)
Jaguars are stated to be Near Threatened by the IUCN and while their current range is roughly half of what it once was, these often solitary big cats can still be found from southern Arizona in the United States down to Paraguay and northern Argentina.