Thorny devil

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Thorny devil
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Lacertilia
Family: Agamidae
Subfamily: Agaminae
Genus: Moloch
Species: M. horridus
Binomial name
Moloch horridus
Gray, 1841
Synonyms

Acanthosaura gibbosus

The thorny devil (Moloch Horridus), also called mountain devil, thorny lizard, thorny dragon or moloch is a cold blooded Australian lizard, that lives in the desert regions of central Australia. The thorny devil grows up to 20cm long and can live for at least 20 years. A thorny devil was first put on display in London by John Gould in 1840.[1]

Habitat[change | change source]

The thorny devil is found in the arid regions of central Australia. It lives in sand, spinifex grasslands and scrub. Ideally adapted to its harsh, desert habitat, it uses narrow channels between the scales on its stomach and legs to collect morning dew and water from damp sand. The water travels up these channels to the lizard’s mouth.[2]

Adaptations[change | change source]

The thorny devil has some unique adaptations. These are used mainly for hiding and self-defense from one of their predators, the goanna. The thorny devil is covered in shades of desert brown and tans, which blend in with their background. These colours change from pale colours during warmer weather and darker colours during colder weather. The thorny devil has a “false head” on the back of its neck. When the lizard feels threatened, it lowers its real head, and reveals the false head so that the predators do not see the thorny devil's real head. The thorny devil is covered in lots of spikes across the entire upper side of itself. These spikes are hard, and make predators not eat the thorny devil, as it is hard to swallow with all the spikes on it.

Diet[change | change source]

The thorny devil mainly eats ants, and it may eat thousands of ants in one day.

Breeding[change | change source]

Female thorny devils lay ten eggs during the September-December season (or Spring-Summer). They put the eggs in a burrow about 30 cm deep. These eggs hatch after about 3 or 4 months, but not all babies will survive, because of predators like wild birds and goannas.


References[change | change source]

  1. Pianka, ERP n.d., Moloch, viewed 23 August, 2013, <http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~varanus/moloch.html>
  2. Government of Western Australia 2009, Nature fact sheet - Thorny Devil, viewed 23 August, 2013, <http://www.sharkbay.org/Thornydevilfactsheet.aspx>