As you’ve witnessed on this blog, we enjoy lizards that resemble baby dragons. But this time around, instead of examining Draco Volans, let’s go into some of the most interesting fun facts about the Thorny Devil Lizard.
The Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus) may only be four inches from head to tail, but its spiny armor makes it appear lethal. In reality, it’s harmless, an insectivore that feeds on ants—lots of them! Learn more below about this allegedly menacing Aussie lizard.
1. Can you keep a Thorny Devil as a pet?
So, you’re tempted to have a Thorny Devil, that spiky little wonder from Down Under, as a pet? I get it—they’re fascinating creatures. But experts and laws are pretty clear on this: it’s a bad idea for most of us. In their native Australia, you can’t keep one without a special permit partly to protect these unique animals.
Thorny Devils are basically ant-eating specialists. You’d need to have a 24/7 anthill in your house. Even if you could legally get your hands on one, taking care of it would be a full-time job. They also live longer than most dogs, with an average of six to twenty years in natural environments.
2. Are Thorny Devils dangerous?
Ah, the Thorny Devil—its name conjures images of a fearsome, mythical creature, and its spiky exterior only adds to its Jurassic allure. But don’t let appearances deceive you.
Beneath that intimidating facade lies an unassuming denizen of the Australian desert. This lizard is far more interested in ant-hunting compared to human interaction.
Contrary to its fierce appearance, the Thorny Devil is neither venomous nor aggressive. This slow-moving lizard stands out as a peaceful outlier in a land where wildlife often comes with a caution sign.
So, if you find yourself wandering the arid landscapes down under and encounter this enigmatic reptile, there’s no need for alarm. The Thorny Devil is, in a word, harmless.
3. Thorny devil adaptations
When we delve into animal adaptability, the thorny devil stands out as an epitome of evolution’s artistry. This fascinating creature, native to the arid landscapes of Australia, has developed a set of unique characteristics that allow it to thrive in one of the world’s harshest environments.
1. Camouflage Supreme:
One of the most striking features of the thorny devil is its ability to change its colors to blend seamlessly with its environment. Depending on its surroundings and the time of day, the reptile can shift its hues from greys and reds to vibrant oranges and yellows.
2. Thermal Adaptation:
Not only does the thorny devil alter its colors for camouflage, but it also modulates its tones in response to temperature variations. It may don a deep olive-brown shade during the cooler morning hours, which gradually lightens as the day heats up.
3. Mimicry in Motion:
Beyond its color-changing prowess, the thorny devil has another trick up its sleeve to ward off predators. Its peculiar gait, often likened to swaying leaves in the wind, is a deceptive tactic to confuse potential threats.
4. Desert’s Invisible Inhabitant:
Picture Australia’s vast, sun-baked deserts, with their myriad shades of browns and tans. Amidst this backdrop, the thorny devil utilizes its adaptive colors to become almost invisible, perfectly mirroring the desert’s palette. This not only aids in hunting but also keeps it safe from keen-eyed predators.
4. Thorny devils vacuum up ants
When the lizard walks over an ant trail, it simply places its lower jaw on the ground, and the capillary action draws the ants through the grooves and into its mouth. This innovative feeding mechanism allows the thorny devil to vacuum up thousands of ants in a single sitting, providing the sustenance it needs to survive in its arid habitat.
5. The thorny lizard sucks water through its body
The thorny devil lizard possesses a remarkable water-absorption system: its skin is laced with a complex network of grooves that act as capillaries. These channels efficiently guide water from the lizard’s body to its mouth. When the lizard encounters moisture, be it dew or rain, the water wicks through these grooves by capillary action, allowing it to hydrate without needing active drinking. It’s an elegant solution that turns the lizard’s skin into armor and a vital water-collecting mechanism.