The Tasmanian tiger, also known as the thylacine or Tasmanian wolf, is not actually a member of the cat family (tiger) or the dog family (wolf) but is a type of marsupial (the female carries her young in a pouch like a kangaroo). Its scientific name is Thylacinus cynocephalus which literally means "pouched dog with wolf's head" or more accurately, "pouched thing with dog's head".
The Tasmanian tiger is a carnivorous (meat-eating) marsupial. Once common in Tasmania, it is now labeled as extinct. During the 1930s, the last thylacine to be killed in the wild was shot and the last known Tamanian tiger died in captivity.
The above picture and all the black and white images on this webpage are courtesy of wikimedia commons.
Tasmanian tiger facts #1
Tasmanian tigers were also known as:thylacineTasmanian wolfmarsupial wolfVan Dieman's land tigerTasmanian dingopouched hyenazebra wolf
What does a Tasmanian tiger look like?
The Tasmanian tiger is a sandy-colored, dog-like marsupial with a rigid tail and 13 to 19 stripes between its shoulder and the base of its tail. The male has a longer, thinner face than the female. The average length for an adult thylacine is about 5 feet but the thylacine can be up to six feet in a straight line measure from its nose to the tip of its tail. Its hindfeet each have four pads and its forefeet, five. The female has a pouch which opens towards the rear, unlike most marsupials, whose pouches open forwards.
Male and Female Tasmanian Tigers
A photo of a male (background) and female (foreground) Tasmanian tigers in the Hobart Zoo. Notice how the male is bigger than the female.
Tasmanian tiger facts #2
The pattern of stripes on the Tasmanian tiger's back is unique like each person's fingerprints.
Where did Tasmanian tigers live? - Here's a map of Australia
The Tasmanian tiger once inhabited most of Tasmania (the southern-most island state of Australia) apart from the southwest. From fossil evidence, bones and rock paintings, sceintists have found that thylacines once lived in places other than Tasmania: mainland Australia and Papua New Guinea. In 1965 a mummified carcass of a Tamanian tiger was found in a cave on the Nullarbor Plains. The cave was relatively cool and dry (like Egyptian tombs) enabling this carcass to be preserved intact for maybe thousands of years.
The aboriginal rock painting shown here was found in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and is possibly of a thylacine and her cub.
Tasmanian tiger facts #3
A Tasmanian tiger could open its mouth unusually wide - up to 120°.
What did the Tasmanian tiger eat?
It is said that the Tasmanian tiger liked only freshly killed meat. Its diet consisted of mainly wallabies and pademelons, although some other birds and mammals were also eaten. It was a predator and with its stripes giving it great camouflage, it would lie in wait for its prey. According to reports, a thylacine would track its prey either singly or in small family groups. It had a good sense of smell and although it moved more slowly than most of its prey, its stamina enabled it to catch even these faster animals.
Historic video (only 8 seconds long) of a thylacine eating in capitivity - 1911.
The sad history of thylacine extinction
- 200-2000 years ago: Thylacine disappeared from Papua New Guinea and mainland Australia (possibly due to climate change or from predators such as the dingo).
- 1803: Europeans first migrated to Tasmania.
- 1808: George Harris, surveyor general of Tasmania published the first scientific description of the thylacine, naming it Thylacinus cynocephalus.
- 1824: sheep grazing begins in eastern Tasmania. The sheep were easy targets for the thylacines.
- 1824: A large pastoral company in north-west Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land Company) paid a reward for every Tasmanian tiger killed on its property. They paid more than 80 bounties.
- 1888 - 1909: The Tasmanian government paid 2072 £1 bounties for thylacine scalps.
- 1910: Tasmanian tiger numbers were critically low and live Tassy tigers were worth much more than dead ones.
- 1928: A proposal by the Tasmanian Advisory Committee for Native Fauna that the Tasmanian tiger be protected was opposed by landowners and was consequently defeated.
- 1930: The last Tasmanian tiger to be shot in the wild was killed.
- 1936: Thylacines were declared a protected / endangered species.
- 1936: The last captive Tasmanian tiger died in the Hobart zoo.
- 1986: The Tasmanian tiger was declared extinct.
Tasmanian tiger facts #5
The last captive Tasmanian tiger died on September the 7th 1936.
The last known Tasmanian tiger - Died in Hobart Zoo
Tasmanian tiger facts #6
The last Tassy tiger in the Hobart zoo was most probably female although there are many stories around saying that it was a male named Benjamin.
The Hobart Zoo - formerly called the Beaumaris Zoo
This is a picture of the restored gates of the zoo where the last Tasmanian Tiger died.
(My own photo)
Tasmanian tiger facts #7
No thylacines were ever bred in captivity.
Tasmanian Coat of Arms
Of course you will recognise the supporters on either side of the shield on the Tasmanian coat of arms - two Tasmanian tigers.
Tasmanian Tiger Coloring Page - Thylacine Colouring Page
My Tassy tiger lineart. Click to enlarge.
More Tasmanian Tiger Activities and Crafts
Student workbook and teacher's guide
Make a printable model Tasmanian tiger (as well as a kangaroo, galah and bilby)
Online interactive cloning activity
Online thylacine jigsaw puzzle
Links checked Apr 2013
Tasmanian tiger sightings
Several searches for the Tasmanian tiger have been funded over the years. But although thousands of dollars have been spent, no conclusive evidence has yet been discovered. Thousands of sightings have been recorded and some of them even filmed. Many of these sightings have been on the Australian mainland rather than in Tasmania. Check out these videos. Do you think any of these could be our elusive Tassy tiger?
Is the Tasmanian tiger still out there?
Tasmanian tiger references
Any thoughts or comments?
Namsak on August 29, 2013:
Sadly, the Tasmanian Tiger's story is not unique. Man is responsible for so many extinctions. Perhaps genetics can show the way to saving some of our most endangered species. Very interesting lens.
Elis173 on April 12, 2013:
maryseena on April 11, 2013:
I didn't know anything about Tasmanian Tiger until I read your lens. It's sad that we are rapidly losing many of the animal species in spite of conservation efforts!
Snakesmum on March 14, 2013:
I would love to know for sure that these animals still exist. What a tragedy that they were persecuted as they were.
Anthony Altorenna from Connecticut on February 22, 2013:
Hopefully, there's still a undiscovered remnant popular of Tasmanian Tigers out there somewhere....
anonymous on January 23, 2013:
@captainj88: it is
anonymous on December 06, 2012:
Since 1987 I have been told of their sightings by very-believable people in north, & central Queensland, Golden Beach & Loch Sport in Victoria, as well as various areas of Tasmania.
Recently I was told by an ex lighthouse keeper that he saw one when he was stationed at Wilsons Promotory lighthouse in approximatelt 1984.
I HAVE NO DOUBT AT ALL OF THEIR EXISTENCE!
nifwlseirff on October 21, 2012:
Such a beautiful animal, and such a shame it is extinct! I wonder how they are related to the Tassie devil - both of them could / can open their jaws amazingly wide.
Leah J. Hileman from East Berlin, PA, USA on September 09, 2012:
Very cool. Never heard of this animal. I hope it's not extinct.
Jeanette (author) from Australia on September 05, 2012:
@anonymous: Oops. You caught me out. I've now reworded the answers so that it's hopefully clearer.
anonymous on September 05, 2012:
I didn't answer #5 with all of Australia and Papua New Guinea because of the part in the distribution section that said they were not found in the southwest part of Tasmania.
I just want to say that this is the most amazing thing I have seen in a while! What a wonderful thing to do for your fellow homeschoolers!
anonymous on August 19, 2012:
I sure hope that they are still alive. They look so cute!!!
anonymous on August 19, 2012:
hope their still out their
anonymous on August 19, 2012:
hope their still out their!!!!! cool animal like a dog or dingo
EMangl on August 18, 2012:
the stuffed one in the viennese museum of nature is somehow a monument for people's idiocy
supersiva on August 15, 2012:
Interesting to hear about Tasmanian tigers for the first time
ShoppingQueen47 on August 13, 2012:
I sure hope there are more in the wild. They are beautiful creatures and it would be horrible if they are really extinct.
Tasmania-australia on August 08, 2012:
anonymous on July 03, 2012:
Yall need to study more. Ive been in love with this amazing animal for most of my life. I read on more then one occasion that they did successfully bred one of them in captivity. Look it up and give me my credit for being right.
AgingIntoDisabi on April 25, 2012:
I have hope that there are one or two still in the wild somewhere.
Jeanette (author) from Australia on April 09, 2012:
@anonymous: All the best with your talk. Are you talking about the Tassie tiger?
anonymous on April 09, 2012:
well I mean I"m doin this project on extinct animals and i have to talk for 3 min long without sayin ummm or mmm.... so I have to pick an animal that is not hard ohh.. I can't look at the board !!!=( im dead it's DUE wensday
MindPowerProofs1 on April 01, 2012:
I love tigers but not this one.
norma-holt on March 05, 2012:
Great lens and loved the quiz. Blessed, hugs
BryanLSC on February 15, 2012:
Would love to see a real live Tasmanian Tiger... Would surely be a fascinating sight! Or perhaps I should travel back in time? :p Nice lens!
Jim Sterling from Franklin, Tennessee on February 06, 2012:
What a fantastic lens, thank you.
ozylizzy on January 28, 2012:
Great lens, and I love the quiz,
GypsyPirate LM on September 24, 2011:
Wow, I had never heard of the Tasmanian Tiger and thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It's so sad that man is the reason for it's extinction - it would be lovely if some of those videos on the Australian mainland were truly a Tiger or two.
gogolf162 on July 06, 2011:
I did not know there was so much information on the Tasmanian Tiger!
pimbels lm on July 02, 2011:
I have never seen them before. Very interesting lens, thank you.
termit_bronx on April 17, 2011:
Wow! Nice lens! I loved reading it! :)
CofCJenny LM on March 15, 2011:
How interesting! I don't think I've ever seen one before.
Kiwisoutback from Massachusetts on September 24, 2010:
Very interesting. Hopefully some of these animals are still hiding out in remote regions that we haven't found yet. It's happened before.
missbat on September 15, 2010:
Congratulations on your new purple star! This lens deserved one! :D
missbat on September 13, 2010:
I'd never heard of the Tasmanian Tiger before reading your lens. What a beautiful creature, so sad it's now extinct. Thank you for sharing about this unusual animal!
Indigo Janson from UK on September 13, 2010:
How sad that this unusual animal has been lost to the world. I had never heard of it before. I wonder if my convict ancestor saw one when he was living in Tasmania.
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on March 22, 2010:
I learned some new information here as I hadn't realized they lived outside Tasmania. The videos were fascinating and really makes one wonder. I hope there are some elusive Tasmanian tigers on the loose.
Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on November 18, 2009:
What a shame this pretty little fellow could not be saved from extinction! Thank you for sharing about him. I am lensrolling to my Hanginâ With Sylvestermouse and Her Favorite Animals lens.
CleanerLife on October 31, 2009:
I just saw a program about the people who think they may have sighted some of these unique animals still living in the wild. It would be wonderful if some still existed, but do we really want to find them?
Deb Kingsbury from Flagstaff, Arizona on October 23, 2009:
Very interesting. I'd never heard of this animal. How sad that's it's disappeared.
anonymous on October 18, 2009:
Very, very interesting lens. I got an education about a wonderful animal I never knew about before. Blessed!
Mary from Chicago area on October 13, 2009:
Had not seen this animal before. Thanks for the introduction!
momto4 lm on September 09, 2009:
What a great lens! I've never heard of the Tasmanian Tiger. I hope they're still alive too! They're a neat looking animal.
Bambi Watson on September 08, 2009:
anonymous on September 06, 2009:
What a gorgeous animal! I hope they really are being seen and are not extinct as thought.
bdkz on September 06, 2009: