Australian conservationists introduce tiny Tasmanian devil joeys

An Australian conservation organization introduced twin Tasmanian devil joeys, named Itchy and Scratchy after characters from The Simpsons cartoons, on Wednesday, August 19.

Aussie Ark shared video of the “cheeky” five-month-old joeys, representative of the organization’s ongoing efforts to replenish the endangered Tasmanian devil population with the help of the Australian Reptile Park on the Central Coast. Itchy and Scratchy will be hand-raised by Australian Reptile Park mammal keeper Hewin Hochkins, who gave the pair their names.

“I can’t remember the last time I had a proper night’s sleep, but every minute I get to spend with these two is worth it,” Hochkins said. “They’re already showing off their cheeky little personalities. I just knew the names Itchy and Scratchy were perfect for them.”

According to the organization, Tasmanian devil joeys require around-the-clock care and four or five bottle feeds per day – including one at 4 am. For the next eight months, the joeys will be cared for at the Australian Reptile Park before they are independent enough to enter their protected sanctuary at Aussie Ark and join the rest of their family.

Aussie Ark President and Australian Reptile Park Director Tim Faulkner said that 80 to 90 percent of the Tasmanian devil species has been depleted by devil facial tumor disease (DFTD). Aussie Ark’s wild protected sanctuary of Tasmanian devils is free of the debilitating disease, the organization said.

Faulkner said Itchy and Scratchy serve as “little ambassadors for the world to see and know that Aussie Ark is carrying on the devil conservation work.”

“Having little joeys like Itchy and Scratchy is a whole year’s worth of reward for us,” Faulkner said.