Facts About the Australian Thorny Devil
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Facts About the Australian Thorny Devil

The thorny devil, also known as the moloch, is an Australian species of lizard most notable for being covered entirely with sharp rigid spines.

Moloch horridus, the thorny devil, or sometimes known as the Thorny Lizard, the Thorny Dragon or the Moloch (which also means ‘Devil’) is a singular species of lizard are found only throughout the desert regions of Australia, especially where there is an abundance of spinifex and scrub as the thorny lizard’s natural habitats.

australian thorny lizard

The Australian thorny devil

The thorny lizard is in appearance intriguing such that sharp rigid spines envelop the entire animal’s body, which is seen usually with a unique colour pattern to aid in the thorny lizard’s camouflage against the Australian desert backdrop. It is possible that said spines of the thorny lizard is intended to obviate whatever appetizing appeal it may have without them toward its natural enemies. The thorny lizard also sports a peculiar hump on the back of its skull, giving any potential predators in the vicinity the impression of an extra skull. In the face of a threat, the thorny lizard is noted to lower its skull between its front legs, rendering the decoy on its neck as a way of diverting a predator’s attention from the lizard’s real skull or any other parts of its body.

The thorny devil’s diet consists primarily of ants, and they are noted to eat as much as a thousand of ants in a day. One fascinating point to take note of is that the thorny devil feeds on them with a flicking adhesive tongue, enabling it to manage approximately 45 ants per minute. The thorny devil is also observed to be capable of drinking up droplets of dew as a result of condensation on the lizard’s skin, conveyed across specific channels via capillary action between the spines toward the corners of its mouth.

Female thorny devils differ from the opposite sex such that they normally are much larger and paler in colour than the males. They start to mate at around 3 years of age before reaching maturity in size, though as yet the thorny devil’s mating process remains obscure. Female thorny devils are known to lay normally around eight eggs in an egg chamber near 12 inches below the ground, where incubation subsequently takes place. The incubation period of the thorny devil’s eggs is determined by the weather, such that the time for the eggs to hatch is reduced significantly at warmer temperatures.

Other noteworthy facts about the thorny devil:

1. The typical lifespan of a thorny devil is around 20 years.

2. As a mechanism of defense, particular species of horned lizards is capable of shooting blood out of its eyes, which their Australian cousins, the thorny devils are not capable of.

References

1. http://www.sharkbay.org/Thornydevilfactsheet.aspx

2.http://www.reptilechannel.com/lizards/lizard-species/meet-the-moloch.aspx

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Comments (2)

cool looking animal, surely well evolved for its survival in the harsh Australian deserts.

really well written Dread. I love these little things, they are cute.

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