• Bryce Canyon Amphitheater

    Bryce Canyon

    National Park Utah

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  • U.S. Highway 89 Bryce Canyon to Grand Canyon

    Road damage south of Page, Arizona will impact travel between Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks. Click for a travel advisory and link to a map with suggested alternate routes: More »

  • Sunset Campground Construction

    From April-July 2014, three new restroom facilities will be constructed in Sunset Campground. Visitors may experience construction noise and dust, as well as some campsite and restroom closures. 'Sunset Campground' webpage has additional information. More »

  • Bryce Point to Peekaboo Connector Trail Closure

    Due to a large rockslide, the connecting trail from Bryce Point to Peekaboo Loop is closed. Trail will be reopened once repairs are made. The Peekaboo Loop is open, but must be accessed from Sunset or Sunrise Point.

  • Wall Street Section of Navajo Loop Closed

    Due to dangerous conditions (falling rock and treacherous, icy switchbacks), the Wall Street section of the Navajo Loop Trail is CLOSED. It will reopen in Spring once freezing temperatures have subsided.

  • Backcountry Campsite Closures

    Due to bear activity at select campsites in Bryce Canyon's backcountry, two backcountry campsites have been closed until further notice: Sheep Creek and Iron Spring.

Short-horned Lizard

Common Name: Short-horned Lizard
Scientific Name: Phrynosoma douglassi
Size (length) English & Metric: 2 ½-5 7/8" (6.3-14.9cm)
Habitat: From rocky or sandy plains to forested areas.
Diet: Insects (primarily ants)
Predators: coyotes, foxes, hawks, ravens, large snakes and lizards
 
Short-horned Lizard

Short-horned Lizard

NPS

General Biology:
Often called "horned toads," short-horned lizards are not toads, but flat-bodied lizards with short spines crowning the head. The trunk is fringed by one row of pointed scales, while the belly scales are smooth. The color is gray, yellowish, or reddish-brown, and there are two rows of large dark spots on the back. When threatened or aggressive, its' colors become more intense. The Mountain subspecies is primarily reddish with prominent horizontal spines, and ranges from southern Utah and western Colorado through Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico.
 
Short-horned Lizard (center) blending in the rocks around it

Short-horned Lizard, "hidden" as it blends with it's background

NPS

Behavior:
Horned lizards take part in social activities, including fighting and mating. Courtship occurs between April and July. The short-horned lizard has live-birth litters of 6-31, typically born between July and August in the nests the mothers create. Babies are able to take care of themselves within a few hours but do not grow the horns on the head and back until later in life. The species is most active during midday and burrows at night. Only moving insects are seen as food, and sight of these will cause the lizard to become excited, follow after, and swallow the live insect. Horned lizards deal with predators by camouflaging themselves, hiding, fleeing, or as a last resort, attacking back.
 
Lizard being held in a hand, with red circle and slash, indicating that the short-horned lizard should not be picked up or harassed.

Don't pick up the wildlife.

NPS

Conservation:
Horned lizards are decreasing. Urban encroachment, radiation, and pesticides are among the factors hurting the species. Legislation has been enacted to prevent collection as pets in many states. As in all National Parks, the collecting of wild animals at Bryce Canyon is illegal. Monitoring and acting on recorded observations is crucial to survival of horned lizards.
 
Map Depicting the habitat range of the Short-horned Lizard in North America

Habitat Range of the Short-horned Lizard

NPS

When and where to see at Bryce:
Mountain Short-horned Lizards can be found throughout the summer both above and below the rim. They blend in so well to their natural surroundings, that you have to look close or you might not see them at all.

Further Reading:
Behler, John L. and F. Wayne King, 1979: National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, pg. 515.

Manaster, Jane, Horned Lizards, 1997: University of Texas Press, Austin.

Did You Know?

Mountain lion standing on snow

Mountain Lions have one of the highest hunting success ratios of any predator. 80% of the time they chase a deer, the deer ends up as food. At Bryce Canyon, Mountain Lions are most often seen in winter. More...