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Desert Horned Lizard

Scientific Name:

Phrynosoma platyrhinos




Deserts and shrublands


Great Basin, Mojave, and Sonoran Deserts and other arid regions nearby


Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


Desert horned lizards are recognizable and unique lizards native to the deserts of North America. Unlike most lizards, they have wide, flattened bodies. These lizards get their names from the small, horn-like scales that cover their bodies as well as their prominent crowns of horns around the backs of their heads. Their tails are relatively short and broad at the base. Average size is 5.5 inches long. There are two subspecies of desert horned lizards: northern desert horned lizards inhabit the Great Basin Desert and southern horned lizards inhabit the Mojave and Sonoran.

Fast Facts:

  • Desert horned lizards use their triangle-shaped heads to burrow into sand, a strategy that allows them to keep warm overnight.

  • Desert horned lizards eat insects in a toad-like fashion by catching prey with their long, sticky tongues.

  • Desert horned lizards vary in color, often matching their surroundings. Colorations include gray, tan, and reddish-brown, and all types have wavy dark blotches arranged in two rows, one on either side of the bodies.



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Last Updated:

March 27, 2024 at 1:48:22 AM

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