The Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos
), also commonly called the "Horned Toad" or "Horny Toad," is native to Nevada and other dry western states. Their color and skin varies greatly as they tend to resemble the terrain upon which they live. For example, in environments which are predominately sand, such as the Mojave Desert, skin and markings look like sand; in rocky environments, such as our local Virginia Range, skin and markings look like the surface of the rocks upon which they love to sun themselves.
Horned Lizards usually do not bite and are in fact, quite gentle, although they do not like to be picked up or harassed. They have a strange defense mechanism where, if abused, they can squirt blood from their eyes.
The Horned Lizard dines almost exclusively on ants! When hungry, they typically search out an ant hill, sit quietly waiting for the ants to approach, then snatch them one by one with their long, sticky tongues.
The Horned Lizard is an unfortunate victim of the pet trade. Sometimes, even as far away as the east coast of the US and beyond, they can be found in pet shops, thrown in with other exotic lizards, given crickets to eat. But they don't eat crickets and the particular ants upon which the Horned Lizards feed are not sold in pet shops. And so, these awe inspiring creatures typically starve to death within a matter of weeks or months after capture.