Mountain devil, Thorny lizard, Thorny dragon, moloch, Moloch
The Thorny devil (Moloch horridus) is a species of lizard native to Australia. It is the sole species in the genus Moloch. The names given to this lizard reflect its appearance: the two large horned scales on its head complete the illusion of a dragon or devil. The name Moloch was used for a deity of the ancient Near East, usually depicted as a hideous beast. The Thorny devil also has other nicknames people have given it such as the "devil lizard", "horned lizard", and the "thorny toad".
Diurnal animals are active during the daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night. The timing of activity by an animal depends ...
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of a...
An insectivore is a carnivorous plant or animal that eats insects. An alternative term is entomophage, which also refers to the human practice of e...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
A burrow is a hole or tunnel excavated into the ground by an animal to create a space suitable for habitation, temporary refuge, or as a byproduct ...
Precocial species are those in which the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching. Precocial species are normall...
Nomadic animals regularly move to and from the same areas within a well-defined range. Most animals travel in groups in search of better territorie...
Oviparous animals are female animals that lay their eggs, with little or no other embryonic development within the mother. This is the reproductive...
Hibernation is a state of minimal activity and metabolic depression undergone by some animal species. Hibernation is a seasonal heterothermy charac...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
Thorny devils are coloured in camouflaging shades of desert browns and tans. These colours change from pale colours during warm weather to darker colours during cold weather. The thorny devil is covered entirely with conical spines that are mostly uncalcified. An intimidating array of spikes covers the entire upper side of the body of the Thorny devil. These thorny scales also help to defend it from predators. Camouflage and deception may also be used to evade predation. The Thorny devil also features a spiny "false head" on the back of its neck, and the lizard presents this to potential predators by dipping its real head. The "false head" is made of soft tissue.
Thorny devils are found in the Southern and Western parts of Australia. They live in the arid scrubland and desert that covers most of the central part of the country, the sandplain and sandridge desert in the deep interior, and the Mallee belt (a region in southern Western Australia). Thorny devils can also be found in shrubland and Acacia woodland.
Thorny devils lead a solitary life and are active during the day. They live in burrows that they dig themselves and don't travel far from their shelters. Thorny devils are not territorial and their home ranges can overlap with other individuals. They usually remain active in March-May and in August-December. From January to February and from June-July, Thorny devils hibernate in their burrows. In order to defend themselves from predators, these little creatures use their hard sharp spines that dissuade attacks by predators by making them difficult to swallow. They also roll themselves into a ball when they feel threatened by lowering their head between their front legs, presenting their "false head". This usually confuses predators and they attack the knob instead of the real head of Thorny devils.
Thorny devils mate from August to December. During this time males try to attract females with the help of a display that involves head bobbing and waving their legs. After mating females lay a clutch of 3 to 10 eggs in a nesting burrow about 30 cm underground. The eggs usually hatch after about three to four months. Once the young hatch, they are left to fend for themselves.
There are no major threats to Thorny devils at present.
According to IUCN, the Thorny devil is locally common but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.
Thorny devils are very important for the ecosystem of their habitat. Being ant-specialist predators, they hugely influence their local communities.