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Horned Lizards

Horned lizards are often referred to as horny-toads due to their round toad like bodies. They are lizards, however, and are easily identified by the thorny projections at the rear of the head and fringe-like scales around the sides which give them a distinctly prehistoric look.

Natural History

There are 10 species of horned lizards that exist in the Sonoran Desert and they can be found in a diverse array of habitats from sea level through 11,000 ft. Horned lizards feed on insects, though some are very specialized, feeding only on ants using a long sticky tongue. Most species of horned lizards lay eggs between May and August, with clutches ranging from 3 to 45 depending on the species (though at least one species gives birth to live young).

Some horned lizards are difficult to distinguish from rocks (like this guy); thus they avoid detection by would-be predators.

The body form and armor of the horned lizard make it somewhat slow, and non-maneuverable, but offer other competitive advantages. Small animals, such as snakes, have more difficulty trying to eat a wide, thorny lizard than it would a smooth, slender one. The wide body also works well as a solar panel to capture the suns heat. In response to an attack, some species can rupture small capillaries around their eyes and squirt a bloody solution at the predators.

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