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Wyoming State Reptile
(Phrynosoma douglassi brevirostre)
Adopted on February 18, 1993
Of all the North American lizards, Horned Lizards are the most fearsome-looking and distinctive by virtue of the pointed, protruding "horns" above their eyes. The Horned Toad, (Phrynosoma douglassi brevirostre,) commonly called "horny toad " by the children who hunt it, was adopted as Wyoming state reptile in February, 1993.
The Horned Toad is actually a lizard with a flat, broad body and spiny skin, resembling a toad. Sharp, horny spines stick out of its head and smaller spines stick out on its body. These spines protect the Horned Toad from predators. The Horned toad squirts jets of blood from its eyes when threatened by a predator.
Diet for a Horned toad is mainly insects, but it will eat small creatures such as spiders. The Horned Toad is usually the color of its surroundings. It enjoys sunning itself on warm rocks when it is not scurrying around under the brush.
Wyoming State Reptile: Horned Toad
The numerous species of Horned Lizards, all members of the genus Phrynosoma, have very wide, flattened, toad-like bodies. The tail is short but broad at the base. In most species, the back of the head and temples are crowned with a prominent row of sharp, pointed horns. The tail and sides are fringed with sharp spines. On some species the sides are adorned with a double fringe of spines. On the back, there are rows of short conical spines.
Range and Habitat
Horned Lizards are found only in the western portions of the United States and Mexico. There are 14 recognized species. They range from Arkansas to the Pacific Coast, and from British Columbia south to Guatemala. These lizards are creatures of hot, dry, sandy environments.
Regardless of where they occur, there is a similarity in their habits. In the fall, they hibernate by burying themselves in the sand. They emerge in the spring when the sun's rays have reached a certain temperature. The first few hours of the day are spent basking, usually flattened against a rock or on slanting soil, so their back is exposed to the sun. At times, while warming up, they may flatten and tilt their bodies toward the sun to obtain maximum radiation.
Mating occurs in late April, peaks in June and stops abruptly in July. Egg laying starts a few weeks later, usually in late July and early August. The farther north, the later the eggs are laid. In some species the eggs are retained, and the young are hatched just before, during or shortly after laying. Others bury the eggs in the sand where they require several weeks for further development before the eggs hatch. The egg shells are white and flexible and average about one-half inch in diameter. The number of eggs varies with the species. Some have from 10 to 30 eggs with an average of about 15.
Because they are so fearsome in appearance, yet quite harmless, desert visitors tend to collect them to show the folks back home. Horned Lizards are neat creatures but hard to keep because most of them are obligate ant eaters and, at that, eat a very limited number of species of ants.
Wyo. Stat. § 8-3-115
Eastern Short-horned Lizard Taxonomic Hierarchy
|SubSpecies||Phrynosoma douglassi brevirostre (Girad)|