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tricky devil

tricky devil facts

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The Spiny Demon is covered in prickly spikes and looks like a miniature dragon.

The spiny devil is a small lizard native to Australia that goes by various other names such as spinosaurus, salamander, and mountain devil. It is mainly active during the day and can change colors to blend in with its environment.

As intimidating as it looks, the thorny devil is actually a slow-moving lizard that feeds primarily on ants. It has a "false head" on the back of its neck that it can use to fool predators.

The spiny devil has a distinctive gait that is slow and paused, with its tail held upright in the air.

5 Unbelievably Tricky Devil Facts!

lizard and spiky devil
The scientific name of the thorn demon, Moloch, was a deity that appeared in the image of a ferocious beast in the early days, reflecting its terrifying appearance.

© iStock.com/chameleonseye

  • The thorn devil's name reflects its intimidating appearance, including its scientific name Moloch , an ancient god who was depicted as a fearsome beast.
  • These lizards can puff out their chests to make themselves look bigger, and because of their spines, they are harder to eat.
  • The animal eats about 750 ants a day, but it can eat as many as 3,000 ants a day.
  • Spiny demons have a strange gait in which they freeze and wobble in jerky movements. They may freeze midway to throw off predators.
  • The ridged scales on the spiny devil aren't just for protection. They are also used to channel water into the lizard's mouth.

Additionally, the barbed devil has four to six different color variations, but the number of morphs identified varies by source. "Red Variant", "Yellow Variant", "Orange Variant", "Gray Variant" and possibly others are among them.

evolution and origin

First described by biologist John Edward Gray in 1841, the spiny devil is the only species currently in the genus Salamander.

Although some taxonomists believe there may be another undiscovered species in the wild, this has not yet been confirmed. Thorn lizards are not closely related to the Phrynosoma genus of North American horned lizards, although they share a similar appearance.

This similarity is generally thought to be the result of convergent evolution.

North American horned lizards belong to the genus Horned Lizards and are known for their long horns. They also eat ants like spiny lizards. While other lizards may have some spines, none are as sharp as these two species.

Furthermore, Moloch and Phrynosoma are often used as examples of convergent evolution, meaning that they developed similar traits independently of each other as a result of similar ecological pressures.

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scientific name

Thorny Devil of the Australian Outback, Northern Territory, Australia
The thorny demon's scientific name is Moloch horridus.

©Uwe Bergwitz/Shutterstock.com

The thorny demon's scientific name is Moloch horridus . Lizards belong to the kingdom Animalia, phylum Chordate, class Reptile, order Squama, suborder Iguana, family Lizard, subfamily Salamander, and genus Salamander .

The name Moloch horridus comes from the Canaanite god Moloch and horridus, meaning scary or prickly. This name is related to the majestic and majestic appearance of the Thorn Demon King, which is covered with thorns and spikes.

The thorny demon has many other nicknames, including:

  • devil lizard
  • horned lizard
  • Spiny Toad
  • mountain devil
  • Spinosaurus
  • thorny lizard
  • Vulcan


Spiny thorny devil lizard sitting on red clay ant nest

©Leith Holtzman/Shutterstock.com

The lizard's unique appearance definitely makes it stand out, but it's also an adaptation. Lizards have large spines all over their bodies. The spikes are mostly boneless except on the lizard's skull. However, the spiny lizard is not a very large lizard. It is about eight inches long including the tail. Females are larger than males.

Another unique feature of their appearance is their ability to change color to match their habitat or even the time of day. On cooler mornings, the animal's skin is brown or olive. As the temperature rises in the afternoon, they turn pale yellow.

The emergence of thorn devils is mainly to blend in with the environment and fend off predators.



© Bäras / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

These animals are active in a wide range of temperatures in their native habitats. They are most active from March to May and August to December. They are almost completely inactive during the hottest months of January and February and the coldest months of June and July.

During this time, the lizard will burrow underground to hide. When the animal is active, its daily job is to emerge from the bushes and warm itself in the sand. Spiny devils will roam a small area to eat ants and defecate. When they look for a mate, they roam farther.

Lizards walk with a characteristic slow, paused gait. The animals are mostly solitary and not particularly territorial, so their territories may overlap with those of other lizards.


tricky devil

© Brocken Inaglory/Creative Commons

Australia's great sandy desert inland provides a native habitat for lizards. They can be found in sandy deserts and are scrubbed with sand.

They are only found in areas with more sandy soils. They dislike areas with rocks or hard soil. Lizards have unique physical features that allow them to survive in Australia's arid regions.

Hygroscopic grooves between the lizard's scales channel any traces of water into their mouths. This means that even just dew collected at night or from plants can provide water for animals. In extreme cases, lizards can also bury themselves in the sand to absorb water onto their scales.

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This animal mainly eats ants. spinifex and rainbow ants are the two preferred ant species. Lizards are not particularly active predators. It usually sits and waits for ants to cross its path, then licks them with its sticky tongue.

They only eat at temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the time of year, this could mean only in the morning or only in the afternoon. Lizards can eat thousands of ants in a day, but average about 750 ants a day.

What eats a thorny devil?

Birds of prey and monitor lizards are the natural enemies of this animal.

What do barbed devils eat?

These lizards are carnivores, especially insectivores. They mainly feed on ants and can eat thousands of ants in a day.

Predators and Threats

The main predators of these animals are the Australian Great Bustard, Black-breasted Great Bustard, monitor lizards and humans. There is also a chance that wild dogs, foxes and snakes will try to eat them. However, these lizards can be difficult to spot due to their natural camouflage and spiny skin.

They move slowly and jerkyly, and if they feel threatened, they will completely stand still. This makes them rather unattractive prey. The main threat these lizards face is the loss of food sources for the ants. This is possible in areas where humans kill ants as pests.

However, these animals are currently the least concerned about their conservation status, meaning they do not face any major threats to their habitats or populations.

Reproduction, Babies and Longevity

The mating behavior of the Thorn Lord is not well known. Limited observations suggest that males seek out females, and if she is receptive, they mate. Spiny devils typically mate and lay eggs in late winter to early summer. Females lay eggs in burrows.

These burrows are different from the normal burrows that lizards use. They are usually dug into south-facing sand ridges. Females lay between 3 and 10 eggs, with an average of 8. The incubation time for the eggs is 90 to 132 days. The young will eat their own eggshells before leaving the burrow.

A thorn devil typically lives 6 to 20 years in the wild.


There are no definitive population data for these lizards. The IUCN has found the lizard to be very common in its local habitat, but no exact population estimates are available. There is no serious threat to the thorny devil's habitat or population, and their conservation is listed as a least of concern.

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about the author

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My name is Rebecca and I have been a professional freelancer for nearly ten years. I write SEO content and graphic design. When I'm not working, I'm obsessed with cats and pet mice.

Thorny Devil FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is the thorny devil a herbivore, carnivore or omnivore?

Prickly Demons are carnivores, specifically, obligate insectivores. They only eat ants.

To which kingdom do Thorny Devils belong?

Thorny Devils belong to Kingdom Animalia.

What door does the prickly devil belong to?

Thorny devils belong to the phylum Chordata.

What category does Thorny Devils belong to?

Thorny demons belong to the class of reptiles.

What family does the Thorny Devils belong to?

Thorny devils belong to the lizard family.

What order do the Thorny Devils belong to?

Thorn demons belong to the order Squamata.

What genus do Thorny Devils belong to?

Thorny Demon belongs to the Vulcan genus.

What type of overlay does Thorny Devils have?

A thorny demon is covered in scales.

What type of habitat do Thorn Devils live in?

Spiny devils live in dry deserts and scrublands.

What is the main prey of Thorny Devils?

Thorny Devil preys on ants and termites.

Who are Thorny Devils' natural enemies?

Predators of Thorny Devils include snakes, humans, and birds.

How many children does Thorny Devils have?

The average number of babies for Thorny Devil is 6.

Any fun facts about thorny demons?

Thorny Devils are only found in mainland Australia!

What is the scientific name of Thorny Devil?

Thorny Devil's scientific name is Moloch horridus .

What is the lifespan of a thorny demon?

Thorn demons can live 12 to 20 years.

How fast is Thorny Devil?

Thorny Devil can travel at 37 miles per hour.

What is a barbed demon?

The spiny lizard is a small lizard in the lizard family that lives only in Australia.

What do barbed devils eat?

Thorn devils only eat ants.

Where does the thorny demon live?

The spiny stingray is found only in Australia, mainly in the western and central desert regions of the country.

How long can a thorny demon live?

A thorny demon can live up to 20 years.

How much does a spiny devil weigh?

The thorny demon weighs between 1.16 ounces and 3.12 ounces.

Can hedgehogs be kept as pets?

Spiny devils are native to Australia and it is illegal to export them as pets. They are also illegal as pets in Australia.

What adaptations does the Tricky Demon have?

The thorny devil has several adaptations to its environment, including natural camouflage and gutter thorns.

Thanks for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the 10hunting.com editorial team.

  1. Bush Heritage, available here: https://www.bushheritage.org.au/species/thorny-devils
  2. Wikipedia, available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorny_devil
  3. Animal Diversity website, available here: https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Moloch_horridus/
  4. Animalia, available here: http://animalia.bio/thorny-devil
  5. Reptiles, available here: https://www.reptilesmagazine.com/herp-queries-can-i-keep-a-thorny-devil/
  6. Fact Animal, available here: https://factanimal.com/thorny-devil/