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Reptiles and Amphibians of North Dakota

Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma douglassi)

species distribution map JPG -- Species Photo


Short-horned lizards found in North Dakota are often referred to as horned toads. This is a mistake, since short-horned lizards are reptiles, not amphibians. Their bodies are flattened and covered with protective horns and spikes. When pursued they will stop and flatten their bodies against the ground and virtually disappear. The horned lizard has a defense mechanism that allows it to squirt blood from the corners of its eyes. This mechanism, made possible by an ability to increase blood pressure in the head, is used when the lizard is threatened. These are relatively small lizards, obtaining lengths of three to four inches. This is amazing considering that these lizards give birth to live young.

They are common in certain areas of the badlands and subsist on a diet of ants, spiders, and sowbugs.


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