Fascinating Discovery: Horned Lizards’ Unique Defense Tactic: Blood-Spraying from Eyes


Known for its large pointed scales projecting from the back of the head, the desert horned lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) belongs to the family of Phrynosomatid lizards.

The species is found primarily in a few countries of North America such as the United States and Mexico.

Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, western Arizona Utah, California, Sonaro, and northeastern Baja California are the mainregions where the species dwells. These animals are also known as horny toads.

The desert horned lizard possesses an unusual flat body with a row of scales along the body. The throat also has one row of enlarged scales.

An interestingcharacteristic about the species is its ability of cryptic coloration or camouflage. Its tan or beige-colored body helps the lizard to blend in with its surroundings.

The horns of the species are wide at the base, unlike the short-horned lizard and the average length of a desert horned lizard is 2.7-3.7 in (70-95 mm). Several species of the Phrynosomatid family weigh between 0.05-0.19 lb (25-90 g).

These lizards are carnivores and they generally prey on invertebrates such as ants, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, worms, flies, and ladybugs.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the species under the Least Concern category.

A loss of their habitat and an increase in accidents that result in their death have emerged as the major threats to the species.

The desert horned lizard possesses an unusual flat body with a row of scales. Its throat also has one row of enlarged scales along it.

An interesting characteristic about the species is its ability of cryptic coloration or camouflage.

Its tan or beige-colored body helps the lizard to blend with its surroundings. The horns of the species are wide at the base.

The exact speed of desert horned lizards is not known but these lizards have the ability to move in quick bursts of speed and blend with their surroundings.

They become almost invisible when their prey approaches and then attack suddenly. The species is known as one of the best ambush predators in the Phrynosomatidae family.

In the average desert horned lizard diet you will find a wide range of insects.

The horny toad is a carnivore and primarily preys on crickets, ants, beetles, grasshoppers, worms, flies, ladybugs, and more. This species also likes red harvest ants, also known as red ants.

The typical desert horned lizard habitat that this species inhabits is found in deserts and xeric shrublands.

Contrastingly, the short-horned lizard dwells in temperate grasslands while the regal horned lizard is found in arid and semiarid plains.

The breeding season of the desert horned lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) occurs right after hibernation, and the season generally lasts from April to mid-June.

During this period, males travel in search of females to mate with. Both males and females reach sexual maturity after two years of age.

Males also perform several courtship displays such as the movement of their heads to grab the attention of their partners.

Females can reject males by waving their tails and after mating, the pairs do not show any interest in each other.

Female Texas horned lizards deposit the eggs after 44 days in a tunnel. The incubation period lasts for around 40-60 days and between two and 16 eggs are laid.

Once these eggs are laid, females usually refill the tunnel to hide any evidence of their nesting site. No parents are involved in protecting the hatchlings once they are born.

Medium-sized desert horned lizards may look like easy prey and yummy snacks to big predators. That is until these lizards start squirting blood from their eyes!

To protect themselves, these lizards can squirt blood into the predator’s mouth, but these lizards do not pose any danger or threat to humans. This blood is not poisonous but it does deter predators.



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