[Picture of Short-Horned LIZARD]

Learn About The


KINGDOM Animalia
PHYLUM Chordata
CLASS Reptilia
ORDER Squamata
FAMILY Iguanidae
GENUS Phrynosoma
SPECIES douglassii
Common Name Short-horned lizard

The Short-horned lizard
is a reptile.
It is a genus of short-tailed, short-legged lizards
in the iguana family. They are called "horned" for
the hornlike spines on the back of the head and sides
of the body. They are also called "toad" for their
rounded, toadlike shape.
This lizards are found mostly in dry regions of the
western United States and Mexico.

What is a reptile???
  • The word reptile means "crawling animal," but this is
    not the only feature that distinguishes these interesting
  • Reptiles are a diverse group with a wide array of
    extinct lineages represented today by lizards, snakes,
    turtles, and crocodiles.
  • Reptiles have several adaptations for terrestrial
    living not generally found in amphibians including
    the shelled egg and a waterproof skin.
  • They are cold-blooded, backboned animals that breathe air.
  • All reptiles are covered with scales or modified
    scales which are dry and firm.
  • They are neither cold nor slimy.
  • Some, like snakes and lizards, shed their skin
    periodically to allow for growth.
  • Others, such as turtles and tortoises, are surrounded
    by a shell to help protect them.
  • Many Reptiles have the ability to go long periods
    without eating.
  • Most reptiles are carnivorous and feed on mammals,
    birds, other reptiles, fish, insects and eggs.
  • Farmers find some types excellent for pest control
    since they will eat rodents, grasshoppers and other
    insects that destroy crops.
  • Reptiles capture their prey in different ways.
  • Some use powerful jaws, some capture by constriction
    and others poison their prey by injecting venom.

  • Horned Lizards are found mainly in the western
    portions of the United States and Mexico.
  • There are 14 recognized species.
  • They range from Arkansas to the Pacific Coast,
    and from British Columbia south to Guatemala.
  • They are creatures of hot, dry, sandy environments.
  • Some of the species inhabit the deserts proper
    where the sun, beating on the arid landscape, produces
    ground heat that is almost unbearable to humans.
  • Others enter mountainous areas and are found
    as high as 10,000 feet.
  • The most common Horned Lizard in the western
    deserts is aptly named the Desert Horned Lizard
    (Phrynosoma platyrhinos). It consists of two subspecies:
    the Northern (P.p. platyrhinos)which inhabits the Great
    Basin Desert; the Southern (P.p. calidiarum) which
    inhabits the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts including
    a finger of the east coast of northern Baja California.

  • Five other species of Horned Lizards inhabit the
    North American deserts:
    Roundtail Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma modestum) Chihuahuan
    Flattail Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma m'calli) Sonoran
    Regal Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma solare) Sonoran
    Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) Chihuahuan
    Shorthorned Lizard (Phrynosoma douglassi) Great Basin

  • Horned Lizards have similar habits, wherever
    they occur. In the fall, they hibernate by burying
    themselves in the sand. They emerge in the spring when
    the sun's rays have reached a certain temperature.
  • Short-horned Lizards are live-bearing or
    viviparous (probably an adaptation to cold climates).
  • Their defense mechanism is quite limited.
  • On occasion they spurt blood from the corners of
    their eyes, which is startling, to say the least.
  • The head of the Horned Lizard has 2 central horns,
    plus many other horns.
  • All feed heavily on ants and the roundtail horned
    lizard utilizes this food source almost entirely.
  • The others consume other insects and arthropods
    as available, to vary their diet from ants.
  • Female Horned lizards live for about 5 years,
    but there is no knowledge of the males life span.
  • Short-horned lizards are diurnal and can often be
    seen sitting motionless near ant mounds.


  • The Short-horned Lizard is on the Canada's
    Provincial Red List. According to COSEWIC, it has
    been designated Extirpated (X) in 1992.
  • The Short-horned Lizard has not been positively
    identified in British Columbia since 1898.
  • There it has been threatened by agricultural
    expansion and commercial exploitation.
  • In other areas of its range, the Pygmy Lizard,
    has been threatened by oil and gas exploration
    in Alberta. Wells, pumping stations, and roads are
    found throughout the entire region that the
    lizard inhabits.
  • It is most likely that this population was
    a peripheral isolate and that is now extirpated
    from British Columbia.
  • Habitat destruction and ant destruction have
    placed several species of Horned Lizards in danger.
  • Also, because they are so fearsome in appearance,
    yet quite harmless, people tend to collect them.
  • Horned Lizards are neat creatures but hard to
    keep because most of them are ant eaters and, eat
    a very limited species of ants.
  • Although the Coast Horned Lizard can survive on
    inverts other than ants, some horned lizards as the
    Flattail and Shorthorned, as well as the Desert
    Horned Lizards, are closely tied to ants and will
    die if those are not supplied in quantity.
  • Habitat destruction and ant destruction have
    placed several species of Horned Lizards in danger.
  • Taken from their native surroundings and offered
    an improper diet and an inadequate place to live,
    Horned Lizards soon die.

    • The Department of Fish and Game has been given
      the authority to limit the take and possession of
      Horned Lizards.
    • It is best to simply examine one carefully,
      then release it where found, for that is where
      it rightfully belongs.
    • Two of the three species of horned lizards
      (horned "toads") occurring in Texas are protected
      from being taken, possessed, transported, exported,
      sold, or offered for sale.
    • This protection is afforded under the same protected
      nongame (threatened) species regulations that
      protect the Texas tortoise.
    • In Canada, users of oil and gas must now conduct
      site impact assessments for the Short-horned Lizard
      and undertake mitigation.

    Music From: I Will Survive

    Last Updated: 27-August-1998
    WebMaster: Daisy Moreno daisymoreno@HotMail.com
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