Feature Creature: Texas Horned Lizard

Tara Afshar, Journalist

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Photo courtesy of Jimmy Zabriskie

Scientifically known as Phrynosoma Concern, the Texas Horned Lizard is native to North America. This species can be found in Colorado, Kansas, northern Mexico, and southeastern Arizona to Texas. The Texas Horned Lizard forms its habitat in areas that have loamy soils, with moderate grass, or shrub. This species is easily identifiable with the spikes protruding along its back, and two very large horns on the back of its head. A relatively defensive creature, this animal has many ways to blend in with its surroundings. One of them being the camouflage color of its back, and another, the ability to inflate to a larger size to intimidate predators or to flatten amongst its surroundings. Another interesting characteristic about this species is their ability to remain motionless, making it very difficult for predators to see them. However the most bizarre form of defense for this lizard is to squirt blood out of his eye and into another’s in a last ditch method of escape.
The diet of this lizard usually consists of ants, so it regularly stops by certain anthills nearby, but it isn’t opposed to other insects like spiders, beetles, and grasshoppers. Due to their easily tracked mobility patterns, many universities, such as TCU, use samples of Texas Horned Lizards from different areas in order to observe their genetic variability. The once common lizard has had to adapt to its surroundings over time due to the rapid urbanization of habitats. The loss of homes for this creature caused it to have to move around constantly, and the recent introduction of imported red fire ants are known to kill the lizard hatchlings.
Many steps are starting to be made for the Texas Horned Lizards such as rehabilitation programs, but only statewide. There are numerous animals just like the Horned Lizard that need help due to the rapid decline in their population.