Alice Springs Desert Park

Fourteen Thorny Devils Hatch at Alice Springs

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The Alice Springs Desert Park, in the Northern Territory, Australia, has successfully produced fourteen new resident Thorny Devil Lizards.

The recent hatching of the fourteen healthy Thorny Devils (Moloch horridus), also known as Thorny Dragon, adds to the Desert Park’s diverse range of wildlife currently available for viewing.

Specialist Keeper, Invertebrates and Reptiles, Pete Nunn said that the Desert Park is thrilled to have such an extensive collection of Thorny Devils in captivity. “Thorny Devils are not normally kept, let alone bred at most zoos and wildlife parks around Australia,” he said. “The Thorny Devil usually lives in the arid scrub land and desert that covers most of Central Australia. For example, it inhabits the Tanami and Simpson Desert in the deep interior.”

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4_P1000797Photo Credits: Alice Springs Desert Park

Over time the Thorny Devils have evolved and adapted to the environment they live in.

“Thorny Devils live on a diet of nothing but small black ants. They feed in the cooler mornings and late afternoon,” Mr. Nunn continued. “When they locate a trail of ants they lick them up with their short, sticky tongue. Thorny Devils might eat a thousand or more ants in a single meal.”

When it comes to hydration, Thorny Devils collect moisture in the dry desert by the condensation of dew on their bodies at night.

“This dew forms on its skin, and then it is channeled to its mouth in microscopic grooves between its spines,” said Mr. Nunn.

The hatchlings took 98 days to incubate and weighed in at a tiny two grams.

From the fourteen total Thorny Devils that hatched, four are on display at the Alice Springs Desert Park’s nocturnal house, sand country exhibit.

For further details and park information visit:

Bilby Joeys Born at Alice Springs Desert Park


Alice Springs Desert Park, in central Australia, has produced two new resident marsupials.

The Greater Bilby is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, so the birth of the two healthy little male Bilbies puts the Desert Park on the conservation front and helps ensure that the unique marsupial will survive for generations to come.

Specialist Zoo Keeper, Bronte Stray, said these two Bilbies are part of the National Recovery Plan and are genetically important to the program.

Ms. Stray began, “The boys will help in diversifying the gene pool, unlike many marsupials, the male Bilby actually helps protect and raise the young.

“Bilbies are slowly becoming endangered because of environmental factors which encompass habitat loss and change, and competition with other animals and feral predators.

“The Bilby is perfectly designed for foraging for food with its huge ears and very good nose, the Bilby doesn’t need good eye sight, as it listens and smells for invertebrates, fruits, seeds and even witchetty grubs, which are inside tree roots. It also doesn’t need to drink as it can get all its water from its food, especially tubers and roots which can have very high water content,” continued Ms. Stray.

The National Recovery Program includes captive breeding, monitoring populations, and re-establishing Bilbies where they once lived.



4_P1010031Photo Credits: Alice Springs Desert Park

The Greater Bilby (Macrotis lagotis), often referred to simply as the Bilby since the Lesser Bilby (Macrotis leucura) became extinct in the 1950s, is an Australian species of nocturnal omnivorous animal in the order Peramelemorphia. (Other vernacular names include dalgyte, pinkie, or rabbit-eared bandicoot).

The species lives in arid areas of central Australia, but their native range and population is in decline.

They do not need to drink water and get all the moisture they need from their food, which includes: insects and their larvae, seeds, spiders, bulbs, fruit, fungi, and very small animals. Most of their food is found by digging or scratching in the soil, and using their very long tongues.

Greater Bilbies have a short gestation period of about 12–14 days, one of the shortest among mammals. Their young are only 0.25 in (0.6 cm) long and very underdeveloped when they are born. They crawl to the mother’s pouch and latch onto one of her eight teats, and they leave the pouch after 70–75 days. But they will remain in the burrow for two to three weeks before independence. Litters usually consist of one to three joeys, and females can have up to four litters per year, depending on conditions.

The baby Bilbies can now be viewed at the Desert Park Nocturnal House.

For further details and park information visit

Thorny Devil Hatches at Alice Springs Desert Park

11010557_786505621426797_2790897292437850506_nAlice Springs Desert Park, in NT, Australia, recently welcomed a Thorny Devil hatchling in the Park’s Nocturnal House.



11041663_786507168093309_8590891587676102699_nPhoto Credits: Alice Springs Desert Park

The Thorny Devil (also known as a ‘Thorny Dragon’, ‘Thorny Lizard’, or the ‘Moloch’) is a species that is native to the dry desert and shrub land of Australia. The average adult reaches a length of 15 to 20 cm (5.9 to 8 inches), and will weigh about the same as a mouse (a max of about 95 g or 3.4 oz). They are known to have an average life span of 12 to 20 years.

Thorny Devils are a difficult species to breed in captivity because they will only breed when in excellent condition, which requires keeping them very well fed on a diet of ants throughout winter, until ready for spring breeding. Incubation at the Alice Springs Desert Park took 3 months, at 29 degrees. Time period for incubation varies according to temperature.

Hatchlings are completely independent and soon after hatching, they start eating ants. Surprisingly, it will take 2 years for the young to reach full adult-size.

As with many species of lizard, the female Thorny Devil is slightly bigger than the male and tends to be slightly paler in color. All Thorny Devil individuals tend to change from a paler to a darker color when they cool down.

The Thorny Devil also has a pretend head at the back of its neck which is used to mislead oncoming predators. It will dip its real head down, when threatened, and will therefore have a slight advantage on other animals.

The new addition, at Alice Springs Desert Park, is an exciting achievement for their reptile team. The last time Thorny Devils bred at the Desert Park was in 2008.