Thorny Devil | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Thorny Devil | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Thorny Devil Overview


The Thorny Devil, a unique lizard species native to Australia, is renowned for its striking appearance. It's a small reptile, measuring around 8 to 10 centimeters in length. Its body is covered in a distinctive pattern of conical spines and scales, which serve as camouflage in arid environments.

The lizard's coloration varies from yellow to reddish-brown, helping it blend into its desert surroundings. The most distinctive feature is its false head, located on the back of the neck, which it presents to potential threats as a defense mechanism.

Origins And Evolution

The Thorny Devil, scientifically known as Moloch horridus, is an ancient and unique lizard species with origins tracing back millions of years. It belongs to the family Agamidae and is endemic to the arid regions of Australia, particularly in Western and Central Australia.

Over its long evolutionary history, the Thorny Devil has developed specialized adaptations to its harsh desert environment. Its spiky appearance serves as both camouflage and defense against predators, as these spines deter would-be attackers. This lizard is an example of convergent evolution, as its appearance resembles thorny vegetation in its habitat.

Thorny Devils are well-adapted to desert life, primarily feeding on ants using their specialized tongue. They have evolved to minimize water loss and can harvest moisture from dew and rain through capillary action along their skin.

Behavior and Lifestyle

The Thorny Devil's behavior and lifestyle are well-suited to its harsh desert habitat. It is primarily a solitary and slow-moving reptile, often seen plodding across the arid terrain in search of its primary food source, ants. These lizards have a sedentary lifestyle, remaining in their preferred territory and rarely venturing far.

To cope with extreme aridity, Thorny Devils have developed unique adaptations. They utilize their spiny appearance for defense, puffing up to appear larger when threatened. Additionally, their skin channels moisture from dew and rain into their mouths, helping them survive in water-scarce environments.

Thorny devil Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Agamidae
  • Genus: Moloch
  • Species: Moloch horridus

Thorny devil Locations

  • Western Australia
  • Central Australia
  • Northern Territory
  • South Australia
  • Queensland

Fast Facts

  • Name: Thorny Devil
  • Scientific Name: Moloch horridus
  • Habitat: Arid Australia
  • Diet: Ants, insects
  • Physical Features: Thorn-covered skin
  • Nocturnal: Daytime active
  • Solitary: Largely solitary
  • Unique Order: Squamata, Iguania
  • Lifespan: 5-20 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Fun Facts: False head

Physical Characteristics

  • Color: Camouflaged hues
  • Skin Type: Spikey texture
  • Top Speed: Slow-paced traveler
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Weight: Lightweight reptile
  • Length: Small-sized body
  • Age of Sexual Maturity: 2-3 years
  • Age of Weaning: Rapid independence

Thorny Devil FAQs

Why are they called Thorny Devils?

They are named for their spiky appearance, covered in conical spines and scales.

Where are Thorny Devils found?

Thorny Devils are native to arid and semi-arid regions of Australia, primarily in Western, Central, and Southern Australia.

Are Thorny Devils dangerous to humans?

No, Thorny Devils are not dangerous to humans. They are harmless and generally docile.

What do Thorny Devils eat?

Their diet primarily consists of ants. They use their specialized tongue to capture and ingest these tiny insects.

How do they survive in the desert?

Thorny Devils have adapted to arid environments by absorbing moisture from dew and rain through their skin, reducing water loss, and relying on ants for hydration.

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