Thorny Devils (lizard)

The thorny devil is an Australian lizard. As the name suggest, its body is completely covered in thorny spikes.

668 Questions

Where does the Tasmanian devil live?

The Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is a carnivorous marsupial mammal that is native to Tasmania, the island state of Australia located off the southeast coast of the continent. It was once widespread on the Australian mainland, but the arrival of the Dingo and possibly climate change at the end of the last ice age, may have contributed to its extinction on the mainland.

Their habitat is eucalypt forest, woodlands, heath and farmland. Tasmanian devils have black fur with a white streak across the chest and often one across the rump. This assists the creature to camouflage in its native forest habitat.

What are the thorny devil's adaptations?

The thorny devil has thorns/spikes on its back that help it to ward off predators in its environment. It has an extra protuberance on the back of its head which may appear to be like a second head to would-be predators.

These spikes have another function, and that is to help channel water towards the thorny devil's mouth. Water which lands on the Thorny Devil's back, whether it be overnight condensation or rain, runs along tiny grooves on the animal's body to the corner of its mouth. It moves along these grooves by a capillary action set in motion by gulping. The Thorny devil will also rub itself up against vegetation in the early morning to collect condensation on its thorns.

The thorny devil's colouring is orange/yellow and black: perfect for blending into the desert environment in which it lives.

On the Wallaby

Where do thorny devils live?

Thorny devils live in the desert and semi-arid outback regions of Australia. It thrives in sandy or sandy loam regions where it is camouflaged against the ground, and where the main vegetation is spinifex or sparse mallee scrub.

The thorny devil, which is also sometimes known as the Moloch, is mostly found in the western two-thirds of the continent, through Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia.

Is the thorny devil a desert animal?

Yes. The Thorny Devil, or Moloch, is a lizard that lives in the deserts of central Australia.

Do thorny devils shoot blood out of their eyes?

No. Thorny devils do not shoot blood out of their eyes. The Texas Horned lizard, Coast horned lizard, and at least two other species, none of which are Thorny devils, will shoot blood from their eyes as a defence mechanism.

See the related link below for information about the defences of the Texas Horned Lizard.

Is a thorny devil a carnivore?

The Thorny devil, an unusual thorny lizard of desert regions in Australia, is properly classed as an insectivore. It feeds almost exclusively on ants.
The Thorny devil, an unusual thorny lizard of desert regions in Australia, is properly classed as an insectivore. It feeds exclusively on ants.

How does the thorny devil catch its food?

The thorny devil eats only ants. It can eat thousands of ants in a single sitting collecting them up with its sticky tongue.

How does the thorny devil help the ecosystem?

Thorny devils mostly eat ants and termites, keeping their populations down, and are in turn preyed on by bustards (a type of bird about the size of a chicken.)

How do thorny devils take care of their babies?

They don't.
Thorny devils lay their eggs in chambers in a burrow which is about 30cm deep. After this, they have no further parental involvement. Once the young thorny devils hatch, they are able to begin eating ants immediately.

What is the ecosystem of thorny devil?

The thorny devil's ecosystem is desert and semi-arid areas where vegetation is predominantly either mallee scrub or spinifex.

Do thorny devil lizards eat plants?

No. The Thorny devil, an unusual spiked lizard of Australia, feeds almost exclusively on ants.

What is the Thorny Devil's life cycle?

Thorny devils hatch from eggs which are laid in burrows about 30cm underground. Incubation is 3-4 months. After emerging from the eggs, baby thorny devils must dig up to the surface. The parents take no part in raising the young thorny devils, as the babies are completely independent and will start eating ants within half an hour of emerging from the sand.

For the first year, male and female thorny devils initially grow at the same rates for the first year. After that, the females grow much quicker than the males, depending on the season, with Winter being the time of the slowest growth. Thorny devils start mating at around three years, but they are not fully mature until they are around 5 to 6 years old. The life span of the thorny devil is around 20 years.

How does the thorny devil protect itself?

The thorny devil's back is covered in sharp spikes, or thorns. It also has a decoy head equipped with more sharp thorns on the back of its neck which it will present to predators, protecting its real head by hiding it between its front legs. It may inflate itself to look bigger and more threatening to a predator. Its colouring is effective camouflage to hide it, while its slow, jerky movements are not seen by predators as easily as the quicker, darting movements of some other lizards.

Does the thorny devil squirt blood out of its eyes for defence?

No. Thorny devils do not shoot blood out of their eyes. The Texas Horned lizard, Coast horned lizard, and at least two other species, none of which are Thorny devils, will shoot blood from their eyes as a defence mechanism.

Why are thorny devil lizards called devil?

Thorny devils are unusual lizards, covered all over with sharp thorn-like protuberances. They are not the sort of lizard one is encouraged to pick up - hence the name, devil. They are best avoided.

How does the Thorny Devil survive in the Desert?

The Australian thorny devil is covered with soft spines. When water lands on the thorny devil's back, whether by rain or just overnight dew, it runs down the reptile's spines and along thousands of tiny grooves, which carry the water to the corners of the thorny devil's mouth.

Its colouring ranges from yellow to reddish-brown to black, depending upon which type of soil it is crossing. It is able to use camouflage as protection, because it can change colour to match the soil beneath it. This also helps its survival.

Does a vulture eat a thorny devil?

No: for one, simple reason.

Vultures and thorny devils do not inhabit the same continent.

Thorny devils are unique to Australia, where there are no vultures.

What is the weight of a female thorny devil?

the average weight of the female thorny devil is 95g.

What does a thorny devil look like?

Thorny devils are small, slow-moving lizards. The upper part of their bodies are covered with sharp spikes which serve two functions: defence, and to channel all moisture towards their mouth. Their colouring fits in with their environment. Those in sandier desert areas will have the mottled colouring of the sand, while others in regions with different soil will have darker colouring to match their surroundings.

The thorny devil's tail also has an extra protuberance to make it look like a second head. This is so that a would-be predator goes for the tail, rather than the lizard's real head.

An image of the thorny devil can be seen at the related link below.