Mountain Devil

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Mountain Devil

thorny devilI had a Mountain Devil (Moloch horridus) as a pet when a child. I would find an ants nest and place him there and come back a couple of hours later to collect and take him home. Feeding rates have been estimated at from 24 to 45 ants per minute, and up 2,500 in a big meal!

At home he’d stand on the dresser table and cock his head from side to the other study me through his beady eyes. We seemed to get on well and I had him for nearly a year before he disappeared back into the bush.

The Mountain Devil grows up to 20 cm (8.0 inches) in length, and it can live for anywhere up to 20 years. A fascinating feature of the little lizard is the ability to change colour and be camouflaged against the brown and tan shades of the desert sand, and dark green of foliage.

mountain devilAnother unusual aspect of the Mountain Devil is the ‘hygroscopic system’ which are grooves in their skin leading to the corners of their mouth. The little devils funnel water into their mouths by means of capillary action along these grooves. The Mountain Devil uses a gulping mechanism to move the water along the grooves and into their mouths. In this way they can actually drink water from dew that settles on their backs or water from rains. There is a great article on the Mountain Devil by Eric Pianka that is worth a read.

They walk quite slowly with a funny robotic jerky motion, and they often just simply freeze while walking, still as a statute, poised with one foot off the ground. An interestingly little creature so keep your eyes peeled when traveling in the Centre!

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