Horned lizards live in the deserts, prairies, scrublands and grasslands of North America and Central America. Their range extends from southern Canada to Guatemala. Horned lizards mainly feed on ants, although their diet includes several other insects.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Reptilia
Order - Squamata
Suborder - Iguania
Family - Iguanidae
Subfamily - Phrynosomatinae
Genus - Phrynosoma
Species - 15 species, including Texas Horned Lizard, Greater Short-horned Lizard, and Flat-tailed Horned Lizard
Common Names - Horned Lizard, Horned Frog, Horny Toad (though they are reptiles, not amphibians)
Horned lizards get their name from the row of horns on their head. They have a shortened snout, short legs and a wide, flattened body, which make them resemble toads. They range in color from gray to reddish-brown or yellow, which helps keep them hidden from predators and prey. Horned lizards vary in size based on the species, but average lengths range from 2.5 to 6 inches.
Horned lizards generally breed in spring and summer. Females lay eggs in moist sand, where they incubate for 45 to 55 days. Young horned lizards must learn to survive on their own from the time they are born. They develop into fully grown adults by the time they are three years old.
Horned lizards have unusual ways to protect themselves from common predators, which include coyotes, hawks and snakes. They can puff themselves up to twice their normal size, and some horned lizard species can also shoot blood from ducts in their eyes to confuse predators. They catch ants and other insects by snapping them up as they pass by.
Horned lizards still inhabit much of their native range. While habitat destruction has led to decreases in some areas, there have been no significant population losses for these lizards.
No horned lizard species are listed as Endangered, although the flat-tailed horned lizard in the southwestern US is listed as Near Threatened. Most other species are listed as Least Concern. The main threats to horned lizards include habitat loss, aggressive efforts to get rid of ants in certain areas and capture for the pet trade.