Often referred to as a Moloch (another name for Devil)
the Thorny Devil is a slow moving harmless reptile
When it walks it lifts its tail moving slowly and jerkily
Easily identified by its prominent spines which are soft and its colouring
Which ranges from yellow to reddish-brown to black depending upon which type of soil it is crossing to serve as camouflage
They can grow to a total length of 20 cm and the larger female
can weigh up to 90 gms
It feeds exclusively on ants (favourite being small black ants),
eating huge numbers
In a single meal it is estimated a Thorny Devil can eat between 600
and 3,000 ants! The amazing fact is that they eat them one at a time
with its flicking sticky tongue, at a rate of up to 45 a minute.
At night time Thorny Devils partly digs into the soil to keep warmer
During really hot days, thorny devils dig themselves a shallow
underground burrow sometimes under small shrubs to provide
extra protection from the hot
Habitat & Location
Thorny devils are found throughout out Australia's interior desert,
mostly on sandy soils
Plant life in these area varies from Spinafex to "Mallee" scrubland.
Water which lands on the Thorny Devils back whether it be overnight condensation or rain, runs along thousands of tiny grooves on the animal to the corner of its
mouth where it is drank It moves along these groves by a capillary action.
set in motion by gulping
Defense and Camouflage
The thorny devil is not an aggressive reptile.
It prefers defense and has various ways of doing this:-
1) The ability to change colour to match the soil beneath it
2) They take refuge in small shrubs upon the approach of a potential predator
3) When frightened, it tucks its head between its front legs which shows
a false head or knob on its neck in the place where its normal head would be
4) If a predator attempts to flip it over it resists by applying counter pressure
to the ground on the other side with its spines and its curved tail
5) Jerky movement may imitate a leaf, and it often "freezes" in mid stride
6) The ability to puff themselves up to make them appear larger
Their main predators are man (0riginally just Aborigines)
and bustards (bird)
Mating and laying of eggs occurs between September and January with
between 3 to 10 eggs being laid underground.
3 to 4 months later the eggs hatch. Thorny Devils reach maturity
after 3 years and are believed to have a lifespan of up to 20 years