Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Reptiles and Amphibians of North Dakota
Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma douglassi)
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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