Thorny devil

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Thorny devil
Thorny devil pale.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Lacertilia
Family: Agamidae
Genus: Moloch
Binomial name
Moloch horridus
Gray, 1841
Thorny Devil Area.png

The thorny devil (Moloch horridus) is also called the thorny dragon, moloch, or mountain devil. It is an Australian lizard, that lives in desert regions of central Australia.

The thorny devil grows up to 20 cm (7.9 in) long and can live for 15 to 20 years. The females are larger than the males. Most of these lizards are coloured in camouflaging shades of desert browns and tans. These colours change from pale colours during warm weather and to darker colours during cold weather. These animals are covered entirely with conical spines that are mostly uncalcified (not bony).

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 three or four months, but not all babies will survive, because of predators like wild birds and goannas.

Habitat[change | change source]

The thorny devil is found in the arid regions of central Australia. It lives in sand, spinifex grasslands and scrub.

Diet[change | change source]

They only eat ants, and may eat thousands of ants in a day.[1] The thorny devil's mouth is so specialised that it can only use it to eat ants, for example it cannot lick up water, and has developed other ways to drink.[2] 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\wet sand. The water travels up these channels to the lizard’s mouth.[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. Browne-Cooper, Robert; Brian Bush; Brad Maryan; David Robinson (2007). Reptiles and Frogs in the Bush: Southwestern Australia. University of Western Australia Press. pp. 46, 65, 158. ISBN 978-1-920694-74-6.
  2. Bullen, James. "Australia's thorny devils drink water by burying themselves in sand". ABC News - Science. ABC. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  3. Government of Western Australia 2009, Nature fact sheet - Thorny Devil, viewed 23 August, 2013, <>