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Marsupial Mice and Tasmanian Devil Cats: Dasyuridae

Physical Characteristics

Members of the family Dasyuridae include marsupial mice and cats and the Tasmanian devil. Marsupials are animals that do not have a very well developed placenta. A placenta is an organ that grows in the mother's uterus (womb) that allows the developing offspring to share the mother's food and oxygen. Because of this, pregnancy in marsupials is short and the young are born undeveloped and unable to fend for themselves. After birth, the young move to the mother's pouch and attach to her milk teats (nipples) until they have finished developing enough to live on their own.

None of the members of the family Dasyuridae are very large. This order includes some of the world's smallest marsupials, members of the genus (JEE-nus) Planigale, some of which are less than 4 inches (10 centimeters) long and weigh less than 0.2 ounces (5 grams). Other members of this family vary in size up to the Tasmanian devil, which is the largest species. The Tasmanian devil can be up to 25 inches (62 centimeters) long and weigh up to 29 pounds (13 kilograms).

Marsupial mice and cats, as well as the Tasmanian devil, have four legs. They have four toes on each of their two front feet and either four or five toes on their two back feet. When they have five toes on their back feet, the fifth toe is a hallux (HAL-lux). A hallux is a toe that does not have a claw. The species in this family usually have pointed snouts and long tails.

The fur of animals in this family is mostly gray or brownish, and sometimes is black. Fur color often depends on the habitat in which the species lives, and the kind of fur that best camouflages them helps them avoid predators, animals that hunt them for food. Some of the species have other markings. The northern quoll has white spots on its otherwise brown body. The teeth of members of this family vary depending on the preferred diet, but most have some sharp teeth for slicing and biting and other wider, flatter teeth for grinding. This combination of teeth is helpful for catching and eating other animals and insects.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsMarsupial Mice and Tasmanian Devil Cats: Dasyuridae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Brush-tailed Phascogale (phascogale Tapoatafa): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, CATS MARSUPIAL MICE TASMANIAN DEVIL AND PEOPLE,