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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Thorny Devil Facts: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Read these thorny devil facts to know more about this reptile.

Thorny devils are most commonly known as mountain devils, thorny dragons, thorny lizards, and molochs that belong to the species of lizards. They look very unique in their appearance because of the thorns that are present in their body. The thorny devil (Moloch horridus) is native to Australia and thorny devils live in arid regions and dry deserts of Western Australia. This thorny lizard is presently listed under the Least Concern categorization of IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. The thorny devil has a false head on the back of its neck, this spiny false head is used to warn the predators.

Thorny devils (scientific name Moloch horridus), are active throughout the day and usually hunt ants and can eat as many ants as they want in their diet. The female species of thorny lizards are said to be larger than that of male thorny lizards. The colors vary differently according to the weather conditions.  Let’s have a look at some of the interesting facts about these thorny devils. After, do check out our other articles on frilled lizard and goliath frog as well.

Thorny Devil Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a thorny devil?

Thorny devils (Scientific name Moloch horridus) are a type of spiky lizard and are native to Australia. They look quite scary as their body is covered in thorns. They like to prey on small insects and are known to be good fighters. Thorny devils have a false head on the back which helps them deceive predators.

What class of animal does a thorny devil belong to?

The Moloch horridus thorny devil belongs to the class of reptiles as it is a type of spiky lizard and lizards fall under the category of reptiles. Thorny devils are found in arid desert regions of Western Australia.

How many thorny devils are there in the world?

There is no accurate number of how many thorny devils there are in the world, but the thorny lizard is an endangered animal.

Where does a thorny devil live?

Thorny devils prefer to mostly live in the arid regions. They live in a dry sand country, spinifex grasslands, and scrub.

What is a thorny devil's habitat?

The thorny devil’s habitat is in the deserts and arid regions, the mallee belt, and other such places. They are found in the hot regions of Australia.

Who do thorny devils live with?

The thorny devils usually prefer to live alone rather than living in a group. They live alone in burrows and also dig themselves and don’t like to travel far from their shelters.

How long does a thorny devil live?

The thorny devils have a lifespan ranging between 6-20 years on an average. The average life cycle of the thorny devils also depends on various factors such as environmental factors, surroundings, nutrition, and other factors. They might also get killed by predators sometimes and end up losing their life many years before their natural death.

How do they reproduce?

The male thorny dragon travels long distances in order to increase the chance of finding a mate. There is a practice known as head bobbing and leg-waving, and it is through this that they attract a partner. As the male attracts their mate, the mating is done, and the courtship is completed. The female then lays anything between 4-11 eggs in a chamber that is burrowed in the soil in order to keep the eggs protected. The eggs get hatched depending on the temperature.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of thorny devils is Endangered. The species are becoming endangered as they experience threat from the predators, and people save the nests and the eggs of the thorny devils as they are in danger of predators that might attack them. Though there are different species of the class, there is a danger that thorny devils might become extinct.

Thorny Devil Fun Facts

What do thorny devils look like?

Thorny devils are usually about 20 cm long. The females are larger compared to males. There is a hump on the back of its neck that is called a false head. The thorny devils have different camouflaging shades of desert browns and tans. The colors change differently according to the weather conditions. They change to pale color during the warm weather to dark color during the winter season. Thorny devils have spikes and spines on their bodies in order to defend themselves from predators.  

A thorny devil is rust or brown in color.

How cute are they?

They are not considered cute as they are spiky in their appearance and these spikes on their body make them look scary. People usually find them creepy due to their appearance. Their hard spines on the skin also render them threatening in appearance, which can not be categorized as cute under any circumstances.

How do they communicate?

The thorny devils usually communicate by quickly moving their heads which looks like a vibration. Their communication is more visual in nature.

How big is a thorny devil?

Thorny devils are not big in size. They are small spiky lizards that grow up to eight inches in length. They are small in size as compared to the other species of lizards. It is the only species in the genus of Moloch that live in between 6-20 years.

How fast can a thorny devil run?

A thorny devil is known to run at a speed of up to 37 miles per hour. They can run fast as they are small in size and can escape easily from their predators.

How much does a thorny devil weigh?

The thorny devil weighs around 0.14-0.22 lb. The weight of a thorny devil differs according to its height and body size. Females are larger than males and tend to live longer as well.

What are their male and female names of the species?

The males and females of the species are known as male thorny devil and female thorny devil. The thorny devils are also known as the mountain devil, thorny dragon, and moloch, which is a species of lizards in the family of Agamidae.

What would you call a baby thorny devil?

A baby thorny devil is often called a hatchling.

What do they eat?

They are carnivores. The thorny devil insect diet comprises of ants, especially Ochetellus flavipes and the other species in the Iridomyrmex or Ochetellus genera. The thorny devil drinking process is completed through the skin.

Are they dangerous?

No, the thorny devil lizard is not dangerous. It is not a venomous animal and its thorns are not toxic.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they do not make good pets. People usually don’t keep such species in the house as pets. There are very few people who think of having a thorny devil as a pet. Thorny devil pets are not found commonly. Thorny devil spikes can also hurt you if this animal is not handled properly.

Did you know...

The body of thorny devils are covered completely with spikes and scales in order to protect them from predators. The Australian thorny devil diet consists of ants and can consume many ants in a day. The thorny devils use camouflage as a self-defense tool, and the outer body's colors blend in with the surrounding habitat. The thorny devil lizard is a slow moving lizard species which puts them at risk from various predators.

Thorny devils have microgrooves and tiny channels on their skin that help them to collect water. They also have the ability to drink water through their feet. They lay their eggs deep underground in order to protect themselves from predators. One can determine the mood of the thorny devil lizard because of its color, whether they are warm or cool.

The thorny devil false head is one of the most potent thorny devil adaptations that allows this lizard species to ensure better protection from predators.

What are the defenses of the thorny devil?

The thorny devils are usually covered in hard, and sharp spines that help them in attacking predators and by making it hard to swallow this thorny devil. The thorny devil lizard, when threatened by other animals, tries to lower its head between the front legs and then take the false head up in order to escape from the predators.

How many ants does a thorny devil eat?

As thorny devils have tiny bodies, they can eat up to 750 ants each day.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles including slender-snouted crocodile, or water dragon.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our thorny devil coloring pages.

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