Desert Horned Lizard

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Species group:

Other common names: Horned Toad; Horny Toad

Scientific name: Phrynosoma platyrhinos

The basics:
Desert Horned Lizards are native to western North America, typically from Idaho southward to northern Mexico. They are mostly found in areas with sand or gravel and sparse vegetation.

Appearance / health:
Maturing to about 5 inches in length, the Desert Horned Lizard has an oval-shaped flattened body that takes on the color of the ground such as tan, gray, cream or brick red with dark markings to camouflage itself in its surroundings. Dark blotch markings with white edges are seen on the neck, some irregularly on the back, and small ones on the tail. The belly is whitish with dark spots. They have one row of spiny scales along the sides of the body and neck. They also have pointed scales on the back. The horns at the back of the neck are longer than wide at the base.

Behavior / temperament:
Desert Horned Lizards are diurnal. When resting or sleeping, they dig themselves into the sand to cover their bodies leaving the top of the head and eyes above ground. They are shy and will immediately dash into hiding when startled. When provoked or threatened, they hiss. When handled, they inflate their bodies to look bigger and poke the handler with their horns. When desperate, they are known to squirt blood from their eyes.

Desert Horned Lizards are best housed in a dry, terrestrial type terrarium decorated with stones, and driftwood or dried root. The substrate must be sand or gravel that is about half a foot deep to allow for digging and burrowing. Succulent plants are recommended. Day temp: 86-104F; night temp: 65-68F; humidity: 40-60%; lighting: 14 hours, UV required.

Desert Horned Lizards should be kept as a pair or a group with one male. A water dish is not necessary because the Desert Horned Lizard gets its fluids from its food.

Desert Horned Lizards feed on slow-moving insects including spiders and beetles but their main diet is ants. They are often seen close to anthills. Because of their specific diet, Desert Horned Lizards do not thrive as house pets.

Desert Horned Lizards made in the spring and deposit 2-15 eggs in June or July. The eggs incubate for 50-60 days. Females often have two clutches per year.


zoo collections, appearance


live ants, captivity, primarily harvester ants


Eastern Oklahoma, interesting defense mechanisms, horny toads, Arizona basin, eyes, West Texas

Helpful Desert Horned Lizard Review

Desert Horned Lizard

From jarrodr Apr 18 2014 2:16PM


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