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Horned Lizard

February 2, 2022

Although people call Horned Lizards horny toads, they are not toads or frogs; Horned Lizards are reptiles. Like any reptile, the Horny Lizard depends on its environment to regulate its temperature.

The majority of the Horny Lizards live in deserts and semi-arid environments. You may be lucky to see the Horny Lizards basking during the morning hours of summer because they love it hot! Even so, the Horny Lizards are vulnerable to overheating, so they move to the shade as the day becomes unbearably hot.


The most obvious feature is the Horny Lizard’s body shape. 

  • They do not have a sleek tubular body shape.
  • They have a wide, flattened body shape for camouflaging and burrowing.
  • They are noticeably spiny on the better part of the body.
  • They have a crown of horns beautifying the back of their heads.


Horny Lizards often prey in open areas. They move quietly or silently wait for the unsuspecting ants and grasshoppers. When the prey animal gets closer, the Horny Lizard snaps it up quickly using its tongue and swallows it whole.

  • Horny Lizards prefer eating ants.
  • They feed on invertebrates such as spiders, grasshoppers and beetles.


  • Horny Lizards live across the Columbian basin and the Cascades foothills.
  • Their habitat includes the open pine forests, sagebrush plains, and short-grass prairies.
  • They stay close to the patches of loose sand and soil to dig.
  • Horny Lizards can be found near the anthills.


  • Horned Lizards are active when the temperature is between 60-80 degrees, which is usually during the morning hours. They show less activity in the afternoon.
  • Horny Lizards prefer soft sand and soil near rocks to blend easily with the background.
  • They dig into loose soil to hide when there is danger.
  • They use their small claws to climb and dig.


  1. William J Goad

    I played with these as a kid in Southern California. In the 50’s.

  2. Tom Barker

    Also, it is the official mascot of TCU !

  3. Tom L hutton

    Awesome little reptiles

  4. Sepi Abed

    Interesting! Doesn’t look very friendly though.

  5. Terri

    When I was a kid growing up in Gaines County Texas we had lots of horny toads on the farm. Then the road runners started showing up and sadly the horny toads disappeared

  6. Sidney White

    As a professional editor, I would have earned my money correcting “Horny” to “Horned” in this article. You stirred precious memories of my childhood in Central Texas, as we boys loved catching “horny toads,” stroking and talking to them, and storing them in the pockets of our overalls. There were huge beds of the large red ant in our area, and when we picked up a Horned Lizard, the first thing we would do was turn it over and look for red marks on the underside, which we took to mean he had been feeding well. That was in the late 1940s and 1950s. The Horned Lizard and the large red ant both seem to be extinct there now; an observation explained by the continual spread of the hated and unstoppable Fire Ant, for whom anything from other ants to bovines are to be killed without hesitation.

  7. Sepi Abed

    Such a funny name????

  8. Maria Formica

    Very interesting


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