• western bluebirds

    Bandelier

    National Monument New Mexico

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  • Access by Shuttle Bus Only

    Through October 27, 2014 all access to the most visited part of the park, Frijoles Canyon, will be via a mandatory shuttle bus from the nearby community of White Rock from 9 AM - 3 PM daily. Private cars may drive in before 9 AM or after 3 PM. More »

Short-Horned Lizard

horned lizard

Short-horned lizards lie in wait to catch their favorite food, ants.

Photo by Sally King

Horned Lizard Camouflage
Short-horned lizards are common in the Pinon-Juniper Woodlands of Bandelier National Monument. These lizards come in a variety of colorful patterns intended to blend in with their surroundings. Horned lizards do not stalk their prey but instead lay in wait, striking out when an insect (usually ants) comes too close. This camouflage also protects them from predators such as snakes, hawks, and coyotes.

 
Short-horned lizard

When a horned lizard feels threatened the intensity in the colors of its scales will increase.

Photo by Sally King

Horned Lizard Defense
When threatened, a horned lizard will flatten itself against the ground or inflate itself to as much as twice its normal size. The intensity of its coloration will increase especially that of its yellow-orange throat. If none of these tactics are successful in deterring the predator, the lizard may resort to squirting blood from its eyes.

 
close-up of horned lizard

Horned lizards are so scaly they're cute.  Remember, they don't make good pets.  All wildlife in Bandelier must be left wild.

Photo by Sally King

Decline in Horned Lizard Populations
Populations of horned lizards are on the decline for several reasons: destruction of habitat and reduction in prey population (as pesticides are used to kill off ant colonies). Another threat faced by horned lizard: collection by people as pets. Horned lizards do not fare well in captivity. Remember, all wildlife in Bandelier must be left wild.

Printable Short-horned Lizard Fact Sheet (PDF)

 
horned lizard's varied coloration
The coloration of horned lizards varies from one area of the park to another to create the best camouflage with the surrounding environment.
Photos by Sally King
 
short-horned lizard
Short-horned lizards are the most widely distributed of the horned lizards and can be found from Canada south into Mexico.
Photo by Sally King
 

Did You Know?

Upper Falls

Frijoles Creek drops approximately 80 feet over the Upper Falls. The falls occur where the waters of Frijoles Creek hit the more resistant, dense basalt rock from the neck of an ancient volcano.