Thorny Devil

Filed Under (Reptiles) by on 07/03/2010 and tagged ,

Thorny Devil close-upThe thorny devil is a small lizard that grows up to 20cm (8in) long. Their natural colour is sort of yellow with orange-red blotches, however, they can also camouflage. The thorny devil has spikes all over its body, and a false head, so when it’s threatened it puts its head down to shows its false head. The thorns are to defend itself, so that it can scare away any predators. Scientists have been studying about thorny devils eating habits for over 100 years, and are still unsure about their eating rates. An early estimation of their eating was 1000 to 1500 tiny black ants. Although another scientist studied ingestion rates and the results were 45 ants per minute over a 15 minute meal. At the end of the day, after the thorny devil had a morning and afternoon meal, it was calculated that 1350 ants were eaten per day. Another experiment calculated that a thorny devil had 2500 ants in both of its two largely filled stomachs. Now the modern calculations suggest that an average adult thorny devil consumes about 750 ants per day.The thorny devil lives in arid regions of Australia in the Northern Territory, south-western Queensland, Western Australia, and western South Australia, and lives in sand, scrub, and Spinifex grasslands. The thorny devil drinks by walking around and letting water fall on itself; it runs down micro grooves on its back. By moving its mouth it’s actually working the grooves to make the water run into its mouth. The thorny devil can live for more than 20years, and once they are 3 years old they can already start breeding. Just like other dragon lizards it attracts its mate by leg-waving and head-bobbing. Females lay their eggs during November to December in a chamber burrowed up to 30cm underground. It takes the young to hatch from 18 weeks to 13 weeks depending on the weather for incubation. Once they are born they will start eating almost immediately. One of the threats to the thorny devils’ survival is that it is being driven over by cars. Since the thorny devils are ectotherms they stand in open areas with lots of sunlight. They are found on roads basking quite often, and because of their size and colour they can be mistaken as a twig or branch and people will drive over them.

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