Species group: Horned Lizards
Other common names: Short-Horned Lizard
Scientific name: Phrynosoma douglasii
Pygmy Short-Horned Lizards are found in the Pacific Northwest from British Columbia southward through Washington to northern California and eastward to southeastern Idaho. They inhabit high elevations of woodlands, open sandy or rocky flats and plains, brush-steppe and pine forests. The preferred soil is loose, loamy, and well drained to allow them to burrow and hide.
Appearance / health:
The Pygmy Short-Horned Lizard matures to less than 6 inches in length from head to tail. Its squat body is oval and flat with short legs, a short triangular tail, and a blunt nose. Short spines or horns project from the back of the head. One row of pointed fringe scales lines the sides of the abdomen. The scales on the back are irregularly sized and randomly distributed.
The base body color of the Pygmy Short-Horned Lizard depends on the surroundings, mostly combinations of gray, tan, brown, red, yellow, white, and black. Random blotched markings appear on the back, although some individuals display regular rows of dark and light colorations. The belly has smooth scales that are whitish to grayish yellow.
Behavior / temperament:
Pygmy Short-Horned Lizards are diurnal but stay in the shade from the mid-day sun during the heat of summer. They are timid and shy and quick to run into hiding when startled. They will crouch motionless on the ground, taking on the colors of their surroundings to prevent detection by predators. They may also dig into the sand or hide in empty burrows.
Like other Horned Lizards, the Pygmy Short-Horned maintains a diet of mostly ants. At times it will consume insects, worms, and larvae. Because of their specific diet, Pygmy Short-Horned Lizards do not thrive as house pets.
Pygmy Short-Horned Lizards give birth to live young. They mate in the spring (May-June) and deliver 3-15 young after two months (July-August).
Leave These Mini-Triceratops Be!
The pygmy short-horned lizard and its relatives, the mini-Triceratops of the reptile world, are hard to resist. Indeed, back in the 1960’s millions were collected for the pet trade (and killed, stuffed and posed with instruments to be sold in cheesy tourist traps!). The vast majority met quick deaths, and they remain one of the most difficult lizards to keep…even when working in well-financed zoos I and others have had very limited success.
Primed by eons of evolution to thrive on an ant-based diet, some accept other insects but still expire in short order. And living in an ant-infested home or region is rarely an answer, as only certain species are accepted, and we know little of the balance of their nutritional needs. Harvester ants are available online, and most horned lizards consume these with gusto. However, they need huge quantities of ants every day or so, and a diet of one species alone may not be effective long-term. If you’re lucky enough to live within their range, get out and watch them (with care, they can be approached quite closely) – but please, leave them be!.
From findiviglio Nov 18 2015 8:12PM