Desert horned lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) 3-4 inches long

Often called horned toad or horny toad, these animals are not in any sense toads but true lizards. They are gentle, useful creatures whose chief menu item is ants. These lizards are usually encountered in flat open areas with sparse vegetation but also found in rocky areas and hillsides. Coloration varies but they usually have several large dark blotches on the neck and back and a "fringe" of yellow or orange along the lower edges of the body.

Their close resemblance to the sandy, coarse soil where they live makes them almost invisible. They love the sun and are active during the daytime, digging a shallow burrow at sundown for shelter. They lay one or two clutches of up to 16 eggs in summer from May to August.

The Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) is found in similar habitat to that of the desert horned lizard and they are very similar in appearance. Two characteristics that aid in telling them apart are the white dorsal stripe and the double fringe along the side of the body of the Texas variety. The Texas lizard may also be larger with some individuals reaching 5 inches in length.

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