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Texas Horned Lizard

Texas Horned Lizard Facts

Size 3.7-4.4 inch (94-114 mm)
Speed Unknown
Weight Unknown
Lifespan Unknown
Food Ants, grasshoppers, bugs, larvae
Predators Wolves, coyotes, dogs
Habitat USA, Mexico
Class Reptiles
Order Scaled reptiles
Suborder Iguania
Family Phrynosomiatidae
Scientific name Phrynosoma cornutum
Characteristics Sharp thorns

Main Characteristics

The Texas horned lizard is closely related to iguanas. There are around 22 species of horned lizards. The Texas horned lizard is the largest and most widespread species.


Is the Texas Horned Lizard a Toad or Lizard?

When Texas horned lizards were discovered, people thought it was an amphibian because of its blunt snout and rounded body. They are also called “horned toad”, “horny toad”, or “horned frog”.

Texas Horned Lizard Texas Horned Lizard - Photo: Matt Jeppson/Shutterstock


What Do Texas Horned Lizards Eat?

The Texas horned lizard has a preference for myrmicinae ants. About 200 of them find their way into its stomach every day and make up approximately 70% of its diet. The other 30% include grasshoppers, woodlice, bugs and larvae.

What Do Texas Horned Lizards When Threatened?

Trick Nr. 1: Catch Me If You Can

When in danger, Texas horned lizards freeze and simply stay where they are. Their motto: “Come here, bird, and get to know my horns.” The Texas horned lizard indeed has very sharp horns and scales, which can cut the throat of a bird or severely hurt a snake.

Trick Nr. 2: The Blown-Up Tot

Even though they appear to be so small and unobtrusive, Texas horned lizards literally sometimes come out of their shell und blow themselves up like a puffer fish. The consequence: The scales protrude and the attacker now has to think how this lizard could fit into its mouth. The enemy would get severely hurt by the scales and it would be impossible to swallow it whole.

Trick Nr. 3: Squirt Blood

If bigger enemies such as coyotes, foxes or dogs approach a Texas horned lizard, it has another ace up its sleeve: It squirts blood from the cavities behind its eyes – over distances of up to 5 feet (1.5 meteers)! This does not only confuse the attacker, it also smells rather bad. Specific chemical substances add an extremely foul smell to the blood, which makes enemies turn their backs and run. The Texas horned lizard only uses this defense strategy when feeling seriously threatened, because this action makes it lose up to one fourth of its blood.

Texas Horned Lizard Texas Horned Lizard - Photo: Ryan M. Bolton/Shutterstock

Enemies and Threats

The Texas Horned Lizard Is an Endangered Species

A lizard that is able to squirt blood is a sensation for many people. Therefore, countless Texas horned lizards were caught and sold as pets. Yet, this is not the only reason why they have been categorized as endangered species. Pesticide pollution has also caused a significant decrease in the population of Texas horned lizards. Today it is forbidden by law to catch, own, transport, or sell them.

Fun Facts

The Texas Horned Lizard Is Popular

The Texas horned lizard is the official animal of the State of Texas and is displayed there on the license plates of cars. It is also the mascot of the Texas Christian University. Some of the native Americans even think it is a holy animal. Therefore you can often find arts and crafts products decorated with renditions of Texas horned lizards in the Southwest of the USA and in Mexico.

Texas Horned Lizard Texas Horned Lizard - Photo: Matt Jeppson/Shutterstock


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