Thorny Devil only terrifying on the outside
Thorny Devil only terrifying on the outside. The name Thorny Devil is derived from the fact that there are two large horns on the head which give the lizard the appearance of a “devil”. The species name is based on the Canaanite god, Moloch. The choice was inspired by Milton’s Moloch, a king who was smeared with the blood of human sacrifice. The total length they can grow is 20 cm. This lizard is a harmless reptile. The Thorny Devil, or Thorny dragon is found in Western Australia, and North and South Queensland.
The Thorny Devil lays about 3 to 10 eggs underground, between September and January. The eggs hatch 3 to 4 months later. They reach maturity after 3 years. The Thorny Devil lives for about 20 years.
They have the ability to change colors to match their environment. They hide in small shrubs. When they’re scared they put their head between front legs, which shows a fake head or knob on its neck in the place where a normal head should be.
If a predator tries to flip it over it puts its spine and curved tail against the ground to prevent it from falling over. Its movement looks like a leaf, and it often “freezes” instinctively. They have the ability to puff themselves up like a ball, which makes them look bigger.
The Thorny Devil usually eats ants, eating a very large number of ants in a single meal, about 600 to 3000 ants! They can only eat one ant at a time with their sticky tongue, but can eat at a rate of up to 45 ants a minute.
Their worst predators are humans and Bustards (a type of bird). The Thorny devil has to be careful about the Bustards, because it can just swoop down, and at least hurt it. The Thorny Devil is an endangered animal. People have been saving the Thorny Devil’s nests and eggs by placing wire enclosures around the nests. By doing this they are keeping predators out and hold the babies in after hatching. This technique seems to be working.
In the dry deserts, the Thorny Lizard gets its water in an unusual way (or at least for us mammals). During the night, dew forms on the Devil’s skin and this moisture is channeled by hygroscopic grooves between the spines. They carry the water straight to the mouth! Very handy indeed. The Devil can even suck water through its belly, straight into its capillary vessels and transport the water to the mouth… ideal when the rainy days eventually come.
Australians should be proud to have such a delightful little creature endemic to their country.