Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus)
With it's many rows of curved spikes, the Thorny Devil looks a force to be reckoned with! Even with it's fearsome appearance, this little creature is less that 20cm long and feeds solely on ants.
Attractively dappled with yellow, orange, brown and white markings, the Thorny Devil can change it's colour according to the amount of sunlight and its surroundings, this combined with its spines, provides an effective defence against predators.
You may see this shy creature living in arid regions of Western Australia. Usually found in sand or scrub. Ideally adapted to its harsh environment, it uses tiny channels between the scales on its belly and legs to collect morning dew and water from damp sand. The water travels up these channels by capillary action to the lizard's mouth.
The Thorny Devil can live up to 20 years and starts breeding at the age of 3. Like other dragon lizards it attracts a mate with elaborate courtship rituals, including leg-waving and head-bobbing! In November and December the female lays a clutch of 3 - 10 eggs in a chamber burrowed up to 30cm below the ground. The incubation period depends on the weather conditions - it usualy takes between 13 and 18 weeks. Once hatched the young lizards start eating ants almost immediately.
Like many reptiles, they are often seen sun basking on roads in the early morning or late afternoon - this may be a mistake for many! Please keep a look out for these reptiles whilst driving to avoid running them over.
The Thony Devil is protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act, so admire them, but please leave them in peace.
The Aboriginal people believe that during Dreamtime, this small lizard used to collect and carry the ochre colours in a pouch located at the back of it's neck. Being the transporter of colour, the Thorny Devil walked the land depositing these orhre colors throughout the country. Since time immemorial, Aboriginal people have used these colours to paint and decorate their bodies during ceremonies.