Tasmanian Tigers Lesson for Kids Facts & Information

Instructor: Dacia Upkins

Dacia has taught all core elementary subjects for 14 years with a Master's degree in Urban Teacher Leadership.

Learn about the Tasmanian tiger, a cool-looking, but extinct animal that once lived throughout Australia and the surrounding area. Find out what made them unique and why they are no longer with us.

What Is a Tasmanian Tiger?

Picture an animal that has the body of a large dog with a stiff tail, the head of a wolf, the pouch of a kangaroo, and stripes in the back like a tiger. Make it about 6 feet long, and you have a Tasmanian tiger, also known as a thylacine. Some have also called it a Tasmanian wolf.

The Tasmanian tiger was once the largest carnivorous marsupial on Earth. 'Carnivorous' means it ate meat, and a 'marsupial' is a mammal that has a pouch for carrying its young.

The scientific name for the Tasmanian tiger is the thylacine

Although it looked like a dog, the thylacine was more closely related to other marsupials in and near Australia, including Tasmanian devils, kangaroos, and koalas. Like them, the thylacine would carry its young in a warm little pouch, and it was able to stand on its hind legs for a long time. It could bark like a dog when it was in danger, but it could also hiss.

Unfortunately, the Tasmanian tiger is now labeled as extinct (meaning there are no more of that animal) because there have been no confirmed sightings of one for almost 100 years. Because modern scientists have not been able to study them alive, they have only been able to rely on very old written observations and old studies to describe the thylacine. There are several things they know for sure about the creature, but they have had to make educated guesses on other things.

What Did They Eat?

Scientists aren't 100% sure, but they think Tasmanian tigers ate smaller animals like kangaroos, wallabies, and possums. Although they were known to be shy and secretive, they were nocturnal, meaning they hunted at night. They couldn't run very quickly, so they would sneak up on their prey or feed on dead animals. Scientists believe they preferred smaller animals because even though they had very wide, muscular jaws, their jaws were pretty weak.

The thylacine had a wide, muscular mouth, but it ate smaller animals

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