Texas Horned Lizard Care Sheet

Texas Horned Lizard

Scientific Facts

Common Name:Texas Horned Lizard
Scientific Name:Phrynosoma cornutum
Life Span:Less than 2 Years
Size:3 to 5 inches
Habitat:Open grasslands and semi-desert areas
Country of Origin:South-central U.S. and into Mexico
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What is a Texas Horned Lizard?

The Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) is one of approximately 14 North American species of prickly-bodied reptiles called horned lizard. This type of horned lizard is generally famous for its uncanny, but most astonishing evolution. It has a serum discharging protection that fires from the edges of the lizard’s eyes that can frighten its predators away.

The horned lizard is commonly named a “horned toad,” or “horned frog,” though it is not a toad neither a frog. The current names originate from the lizard’s rounded figure and short nozzle, which deliver it strongly batrachian features. Phrynosoma technically signifies “toad-embody,” and cornutum means “pointed.” The lizard’s horns are expansions of its skull and carry a true bone.

Appearance & Size

As the pseudonym implies, Texas horned lizards are embraced in bony scales. The largest spikes strike their heads: two patterns the eyebrow, while more extrude from the jawline and up to the temporal part of the head. Two series of spikes line the parallel portions of their body, dividing the more substantial spikes of the dorsal side from the flaky belly.

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Upon attaining physical development, the snout-vent range of Texas horned lizards averages a minimum of 69 mm. Female Texas horned lizards are bigger than the males. Females reportedly develop until they display 144 mm in length, while males tend to 94 mm. Their weight reaches from 25 to 90 g.

Their frames are small and large, which they can deflate if they want to conceal. They can likewise expand themselves full of oxygen so their spikes bulge, causing them more challenging for killers to devour.

Varying upon the geologic area, Texas horned lizards will have a complexion that matches the shade of the ground. Their complexion varies from the yellow or reddish-brown powders of wilderness or playa to the tan or brown grass of a grassland. During the breeding period, these colorations become more dynamic.

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Dark stripes are working down the eyes to the peaks of the spikes, with more numerous upon the crest and across the limbs. For some people, the two enormous horns on the rear of the head have a deeper brown or red complexion. Their backs have large, dark blemishes that are surrounded by a thinner line, and a single light line runs down their vertebrae from the base of their collar to the tip of their tailpiece.

Hatchlings have a dim brown shade, which may dissolve into a lighter coloration upon entering maturity. Seven offsprings discovered by Allison and Cepeda (2009) balanced from 0.57 g to 0.81 g. One hatchling had a nose-pipe diameter of 20 mm.

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Geographic & Range

Texas horned lizards are disseminated over the United States and Mexico. Their scope stretches as far northerly as southeast Colorado, Kansas, and southwest Missouri. They exist as far southerly as the Mexican states of northeast Sonora, Durango, Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, and San Luis Potosi. Their area spreads as distant east as Louisiana and Arkansas, and as remote west as southeastern Arizona and New Mexico. Texas horned lizards are generally discovered throughout Oklahoma and Texas, including the obstructions sanctuaries along the Texas shoreline.

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Texas horned lizards have been presented to 19 nations outside their primary terrain in the United States. These presentation sections include places as distant east as the District of Colombia, northwest as Wyoming, as far southeast as Florida, as far north as Michigan, and as far southwest as Arizona.


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Texas horned lizards dwell in dry or semi-arid fields with passage to open terrain and some widespread vegetative shelter. These domains include several early connected territories like grasslands, hills, and wildernesses. They also involve the border environment of playas, which are flat sand basins that are usually sterile but may become hallow ponds after precipitation. These ranges also encompass bajadas, which are inclinations of productive soil located along the base of a cliff. Texas horned lizards have been recorded at altitudes from 106 m to 1,330 m above ocean’s surface.

In the days and nights, Texas horned lizards can be observed in an open area where they relax and seek for bugs. In the blazing midday sun, they seek refuge beneath rocks, in rodent tunnels, below woodlike vegetables, or in fissures to evade predation.

Texas horned lizards sleep from October until late March by concealing themselves beneath the soil, debris falls and leaves. Their dens average pitch of 140 mm and manage to withstand the south or south-west, where sunlight risk is most eminent during wintertime.

Common Behavior

Texas horned lizards savor a reclusive behavior and only cooperate with other subspecies of their distinct species when exploring for a partner or fighting for nourishing spots. When they make interact, they do so by promptly bouncing their heads upward and downward in a species-specific habit.

As hatchlings, Texas horned lizards are restive, retreating from even the worker ants they feast on as grown-ups. Only the following two weeks do they manifest their species’ security of staying stagnant until the threat crosses.

Grown-ups consume much of their days located on high slant points with their upper frames tilted to inspect their surroundings for victim or predators. During the warm midday, they take refuge in the shadow. The only movement this species is famous for presenting at night is when females produce their eggs.

Texas horned lizards vegetate from October continuously late March by immersing themselves beneath the dirt, litterfall, and leaves.

Diet & Feeding Habits

Texas horned lizards depend nearly entirely on ants, but they do consume different many ground-living arthropods including bugs, worker ants, and spiders. For instance, the Texas horned lizard’s principal prey is the farmer ant, though, it will likewise enhance its nutrition with grasshoppers, beetles, termites, and other pests. Many various species fall significantly on ants and enthusiastically take other tiny pests.

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Commonly, they will evade more massive colonies of ants because if they won’t, they would be killed rather than a killer. They sip water through the layers that receive sufficient rains on the skin. These scales then direct the water to the aperture. Lizards also receive water by grazing dew plants.

Reproduction & Life Cycle

The breeding period for Texas horned lizards commences promptly after slumber from mid-April and lasts until mid-June. Males progress further during the initial month subsequent hibernation in quest of amenable females than throughout all other events of the year.

To manifest affair in a female, male Texas horned lizards will present their species-specific vanity of instantly bowing their heads up and down. Females may refuse males by utterly running away or by swinging their tails. The lizards undergo a kind of amplexus for several hours, where the male is on top of the female.

The mating arrangement of the Texas horned lizard is concealed; however, females will decline all other endeavors at courting after mating. After mating halts, the male also presents no extra attention in the female.

The breeding period of Texas horned lizards start promptly after relaxation in mid-April and extends until mid-June. Females will have only a particular bunch per year. There are no reports of how many events males may generate during a particular breeding season.

Females install their eggs 44 days after mating in a tunnel, where the eggs will nurture for 40 to 61 days. Approximately 14 to 37 eggs have been inscribed in a single bunch, with the greater clutches produced by maturer, more substantial females. Females do not remain with the eggs.

The incubation phase is generally 44 days, and reproduction terms are 40-61 days. Time to liberation is instantly upon hatching, as progenitors do not defend the lair or the juvenile. One offspring had a snout-vent diameter of 20 mm. Both males and females attain sexual development two years following hatching.

Nearly 44 days after mating, female Texas horned lizards excavate a hole to place their eggs. They drill with their front legs, forcing waste soil out of the way with their rear legs, frequently checking to glance around their surroundings. The burrows spread from 12 to 25 centimeters below, inclining 25 to 60 points downward.

After placing their eggs, females reload the hole applying their front legs and scalp, then spread the soil around to conceal proof of their nesting section. The entire nesting method may use an individual 5 to 10 hours to achieve.

Females linger adjacent to the nesting spot for several hours after completing their job, then abandon the eggs. No additional ancestral engagement transpires. Hatchlings are free shortly after hatching.

How to Breed Texas Horned Lizard?

Sexing & Dimorphisms 

Males have an efficiently recognizable series of yellowish femoral vesicles, running lengthwise along the underneath of each back femur, and hemipenal bumps at the root of the tail just back of the vent hole ( anal plate ). Additionally in most species merely posterior of the vent there will occur two larger “post-anal” flakes, markedly larger than encompassing layers.

Females will hold a less easily distinguished line of pores and have lighter tails at the root ( no curving ) though some species have naturally broader tails and may be more difficult to modify without identification. Females also are commonly bigger than males, even though again, knowledge and connection with preceding cases will support, since generation can be tougher to ascertain.

The cycling wasn’t an endeavor to cultivate them, it merely used the load off feeding them for roughly four months, and appeared like that’s what would have transpired in nature. Nothing followed the initial two years, but the third season will shift everything.

In the third season, one of them will have noticeable Hemi-penal bumps and will definitely be a male. He will begin cranial bowing that spring and seeking the female throughout the enclosure. Obviously, this couple is set to reproduce. They both will devour ferociously during this period, and by mid-May, you will start to notice prominent lumps of eggs in the female. Sprinkle the crickets every day to confidently refrain egg coupling. Similar bearded dragons normally did, she will abruptly stop consuming. Install a shattered half of a pottery vessel on the cool surface of the enclosure and gently drizzled the sand underneath the device a moist laying spot.

Right around early June, females will resemble as she contracted in half. Be convinced enough beneath the container vessel will have a bunch of eggs! The female will consume everything in the enclosure for the next two weeks and will soak every day and installed most of the weight back on within a few weeks. The male will remain to head bow, but she will become pregnant again.


Handle the eggs the same as bearded dragons. Moistened vermiculite and then applying your hands pressed all the liquid out of it you probably can. It is difficult to operate for the bearded. Set the eggs in deli bowls with a couple of tiny gaps struck in the surface and install the Coated vessels in an incubator placed at 82 degrees.

Employ a fish basin radiator to warm water in a closed aquarium to that heat, and then placed the containers on top of blocks within the secured aquarium to produce the incubator. It will run great, but we guarantee any model of reptile incubator would operate identically as well. The eggs started to develop and eventually around two months later, all eggs will hatch. They will be around an inch and a quarter long.

Raising the little ones

Set them all up like the origins but applied less wattage light bulbs as it appeared like the other lights would be scorching and drain them out. Start them on pinhead crickets as the pinchers on the ants seem huge in measurement.

After nearly a week, begin supplementing ants as you don’t desire them to engrave on the crickets. They will have no difficulty swallowing them so cast out the crickets. After that, 

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manage them like the grown-ups, including the relaxation calendar. They will all appear healthy in the spring.

Care Sheet


Horny Toad lizards are of the warm, arid southwest. They have excellent deception for rocky areas. They are not immense climbers but will soar low extending twigs and decor. The basement area is more valuable than height in your lizard’s cage. We suggest at least 30″ x 12″ container or a 18″ x 18″. Exo Terra’s Small or Zilla’s 20 long animal enclosure. These lizards are cooperative and appear to do exceptional in each other’s company. We would not recommend joining them with different species of lizards. They are not intrusive enough feeders, and the other lizards would consume all the meat.

Horny toad lizards prefer to drill and do exceptional in plain gravel, e.g., play dust or Exo Terra sand. Merely don’t get it too low or you will never observe them. Do not apply calcium sand as this can bump into your lizard’s stomach and create impaction. We advise roughly one-inch depth. Furthermore, be sure to provide your lizard with several different areas to sneak. Some approaches are the Exo terra rock hides or skulls.

Lighting & Temperatures

Horny toad lizards admire it warm during the daylight. A 100-105 degree lounging place is valid. However, like all reptiles, they are reliant on thermoregulation to regulate their body heat. So you still need to give a sultry and fresh side to your cage. All the heat components should stay on one surface, and the other will hold the cool side.

The simplest approach to enhance the heat in your cage is with a reptile heat light and an Exo terra or Zoo Med heat mattress situated on the outside below the enclosure. Switch the light off at bedtime and abandon the heat bed on 24/7. The remainder of the enclosure can be in the 72-75 degree scale. In the evening, the temperature can descend to as low as 70 degrees. Employ a good quality temperature scale, like Zoo Meds digital temp gauge or Exo Terras Thermometer.

Horny Toad lizards necessitate UVB lighting to assist them digest calcium and to amalgamate vitamin D3. Since they are not out in tangible sunlight in our places, we must give UVB light in the form of a particular fluorescent bulb intended to provide UVB waves.

The most suitable bulbs are the mercury steam such as Exo Terra’s Solar Glo bulbs, ZooMed’s Powersun, or Solar bright bulbs. These give heat and UVB all in one bulb. You can likewise employ a distinct lounging (heat) bulb and UVB bulbs. If you apply these, you will desire the Zoo Med 10.0 or Exo Terra 150 desert type.

In cooler environment zones, your lizard may demand additional heat in the winter to hold them from sluggishness. You can manage more temperature by appending an extra heat light or hinging on the heat in your residence, and you may be apt to go away with something as manageable as placing a wrapped napkin over half of the cage (apart from your heat outlets).


Have an incompressible water container in with your horny toad lizard and make convinced it constantly has fresh water. Exo Terras water bowls or Fluker’s water bowls are excellent options. You might have to replace the water out every day if your lizard loves to excrete it. Wash the container at most limited once a week to prevent bacteria fungus from swelling up.


Horny toad lizards are principally worker anteaters. In the native, they will consume up to 100 ants a time. They will take little crickets in an alternative of the ants. However, we suggest providing them a formic acid complement several times a week, like Repashy formic cal added supplement if you are not operating to serve them ants. 

These lizards do not desire to track down their food and will stretch out at anthills set to pluck off the ants that spread out. This implies it is essential if you release the insects in the same place as the cage every time. They will learn to identify where the menu appears from and linger there. You furthermore desire to enhance the bug nutrition at least every other feeding with calcium such as Zoo Med calcium with D3.


A Horny toads protection is to eject blood out their eyes. However, they have to be truly frightened to do this in custody veritably. They’re not great on being managed; when they are, the lizard will commonly stay tense and still in your palm. This implies they’re not particularly pleasant and are merely anticipating an opportunity to revert back to the sanctuary. You can handle them some, but repeated administration is not supported. If you give an accurate setting, they can be somewhat interesting pets.


A few species seldom surface in the pet business, even though they aren’t the most accessible of reptiles to sustain and not advised for the innocent. In fact, they can’t really be considered as pets at all, is particularly fit for skilled and committed hobbyists.

The Texas horned lizard is now a preserved species, and, in Texas, it is forbidden to bring, own, freight or exchange them without a proper license.


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Texas horned lizards are plunder against by canids, as well as reptiles such as sidewinders, western diamond-backed rattlesnakes, coachwhips, and Sonoran whip snakes; by wildfowl such as grassland falcons, loggerhead shrike, red-shouldered hawk, and American kestrels, and; as well as by higher roadrunners.

Texas horned lizards have numerous protection mechanisms against killers. They know to escape from deception predators such as western diamondback rattlesnakes, and to hold their terrain against hunting predators such as Sonoran whip snakes or coachwhips.

When holding their area, Texas horned lizards will stay still until the predator crosses by. If discerned, they may employ in a guarded stance by straightening their body, dropping the tail, and confronting the warning with their mouths open. If the warning advances, they will seethe and surge to protect themselves.

These lizards can also emit blood from their eyes, which they spatter at predators. A self-studied by Burleson discarded blood from its left eye at a range of approximately 1 meter. They execute this by pressing the blood pressure within the sinus orbitalis to stretch, making the blood vessel to burst and driving away to be built into the conjunctival sac.

It is believed that the spikes of horned lizards are utilized to protect against predators. The bone of this species has been observed penetrating the windpipes of all recorded species except greater roadrunners. Greater roadrunners assassinate Texas horned lizards by breaking their bones against a rock, then devouring the lizard cranial first, a means of expenditure which has enabled them to evade the same destiny.

Human & Economic Connections

This species gives various curiosities for human commentators. It can eject blood from its eyes as a shield, and it can likewise accumulate rainwater from its rear: When it showers, the lizard mounts its stern, and water is directed toward the head; the lizard absorbs the water as it gathers.

A lizard that practices in consuming ants generally serves to restrict their populations. Meantime, the spikey protective flakes and blood-squirting actions are means this lizard attempts to withstand assaults from its predators, such as coyotes, foxes, and predatory birds.


The Texas horned lizard stays well-known in areas of western Oklahoma, but since the 1960s has revealed a climactic drop in both scope and population extent in the east and central regions of the state. Several potential causes have been suggested for the slump, but little proof survives to ascertain the true circumstances. The horned lizard’s drop is most possibly the effect of a compound of determinants with the value of each part ranging from one portion of the state to the next.

As natural environments are altered by human advancement, some fields may no longer be fit for horned lizards or their worker ant victim. With limited suitable territory, fewer lizards can be maintained. Furthermore, as the number of territories decreases, the surviving scraps of suitable environments becomes more separate from each other. 

Because of their small area and restricted capability to move long ranges, horned lizards have trouble shifting between broadly spaced territory patches. Populations in secluded habitats are more receptive to local extermination from catastrophic accidents, and once an isolated population is withdrawn, it is tough for other horned lizards to relive the space.

Prolonged application of pesticides may have decreased the worker ant population in some fields, thus diminishing the horned lizard’s principal food rations. In farming regions, ants have infrequently recognized pest species but may be executed by insecticides applied against other bugs. 

Additionally, herbicides worked to eradicate grasses may alter worker ant populations by decreasing the wealth or quality of grains on which the ants feed. In domestic areas, ants are often undermined by people fretting ant stings or desiring to put them away from collected food. Because harvester ant colonies are plainly noticeable, these innocent ants are often slain.

Extended days of warm, sober weather associated with severe dryness may induce harvester ants to move lethargic and momentarily reduce the lizard’s most significant food origin. Harsh aridity knocked Oklahoma in the early 1980s and may have created some of the slumps.

Because horned lizards may rest on the streets to relax in the mild sidewalk or sand, they are exposed to transport kills. As the number of streets and transportations develops, the possibility that horned lizards will be caught and executed increases.

In some regions, the number of possible predators on horned lizards may be more leading now than in history. Though limited proof has estimated the impact of predation on horned lizard communities, expanded populations of viable predators such as wild felines, cows egrets, and great-tailed grackles have been proposed in recent years, particularly around villages and meadows. 

The accumulation of horned lizards as pets or to trade industrially in the pet enterprise may have influenced some populations, particularly near cities and towns. Informal reports declare that thousands of horned lizards were exported out of Oklahoma and Texas and marketed for pets in the eastern U.S. and Europe from the early 1900s until the 1980s. Because of their particular nutrition, most of these lizards weakened from inappropriate attention within several weeks, and no self-maintaining captive-bred populations were ever produced.

Horned lizards are now preserved in Oklahoma and Texas, and this movement is prohibited. However, where collecting was general, some communities may not have improved yet.

Fun Facts

  • Contradiction – These reptiles take an exceptionally deceitful name, notwithstanding being distant from related to toads. The “toad” section of their name is about their heavy volume and form, which matches that of toads.
  • Slightly Less of a Misnomer – The “horny” side of their name relates to the several spiked “horns” comprising the body. This is, though, also something of a misnomer. While the protuberances on the cranial are concrete horns and have a skinny core, the excess of the spikes is vertebrae. These vertebrae are solely altered scales and not horns at all.
  • Adaptation – Being short and leisurely get it challenging to withstand, but these creatures have some skills up their sleeves. Their primary support mechanism is straightforward; merely do nothing! By being very tranquil and employing their deception, these lizards can mingle in with their surroundings.
  • Protection Mechanism – Even the best makeup can be spotted out, and when they are detected, these animals have some more extra protection. All species will swell up, and thus lengthen their spiky vertebrae, delivering it much more painful to consume them.
  • Ultimate Stand – When all else displeases, attempt to frighten your enemy into slavery. Eight species of horned lizards are popular to spit a current of blood from the edge of their eyes. Not solely do they diffuse blood at the predator, but they can likewise expel at up to 5 ft. continuously. For many killers, this serum is feeble savoring and considerably complicated.


Can you have a Texas horned lizard as a pet?

Horned lizards do not endure well in custody and hence do not make excellent pets. Moreover, two species of horned lizards in Texas are classified as endangered by the nation and demand scientific licenses for administration.

Are horned lizards toxic?

Canids are not reluctant to blood, but they despise horned lizard blood, although it is not dangerous. The lizards seemingly get the obnoxious substance in their blood from their diet. They principally consume ants, and many devour extremely deadly harvester ants.

How distant can a horned lizard spit blood?

If tormented by predators, horned lizards will emit blood from the eyes. The squirting blood arises from channels in the edges of their eyes and can cover a range of up to three feet.

Are horned lizards endangered?

The horned lizard is not on the verge of extermination, still. It is classified as “imperiled” in the state, but substantial populations in New Mexico and subsequently hold it off the national endangered species record.

Is it illegal to keep a horned toad?

The Texas horned lizard is now a preserved species, and, in Texas, it is prohibited to buy, own, freight or market them without a particular license

What is the difference between a horned frog and a horned toad?

The Horned Lizards, have also been attributed to as Horned Toads. This is not because it is similar to frogs, but slightly because it has an appearance which resembles a lot similar to that of a toad, and because it has a small and broad body.

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