• Stars appear behind a dramatic landscape of rocky mountains, rolling hills, and fields of grass

    Santa Monica Mountains

    National Recreation Area California

Blainville's Horned Lizard

Coast Horned Lizard

A Blainville Horned Lizard relaxing on a rock.

Science 360/Jimmy A. McGuire

Scientific Name
Phrynosoma blainvillii (coronata)

Introduction
The Blainville's (formerly Coast) Horned Lizard can be found throughout the Santa Monica Mountains. Their cryptic coloring enables them to blend into the background making them difficult to spot. They are capable of quickly running away for only a short distance at the approach of a predator. As a last resort, it will spray the intruder with blood from the corners of its eyes

Appearance
The Blainville's Horned Lizard is a flat-bodied lizard with a wide oval-shaped body. Adults can vary in length from 2.5-4.5 inches (snout to vent) and have enlarged pointed scales scattered on the upper body and tail, and a large crown of horns or spines on the head.
The species vary in color from reddish, brown, yellow, or gray, with dark blotches on the back and large dark spots on the sides of the neck.

Range
The Blainville's Horned Lizard is found along the Pacific coast from the Baja California border west of the deserts and the Sierra Nevada, north to the Bay Area, and inland as far north as Shasta Reservoir, and south into Baja California.

Habitat
In the Santa Monica Mountains, Blainville's Horned Lizards can be found frequently near ant hills in open areas of sandy soil and low vegetation in valleys, foothills and semiarid mountains.

 
Blainville Coast Horned Lizard

The Coast Horned Lizard has a distinctive flat body.

USGS/Chris Brown

Feeding
Adult lizards eat mainly ants, especially harvester ants, but can also consume other small invertebrates such as spiders, beetles, termites, flies, bees, and grasshoppers.

Reproduction
In the Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills, females lay 6-21 eggs in May to June, with hatching from August to September. Some females may lay two clutches in a year.

Conservation Status
Blainville's Horned Lizard populations have suffered population declines in most of its range due to habitat destruction from human development and agriculture, and the spread of nonnative ants, such as Argentine Ants which displace the native ant food source. Blainville's Horned Lizards are currently listed as a California Species of Special Concern (California Department of Fish and Wildlife) and are a park species of special concern.

 

Did You Know?

Backbone trail hikes lead to views of mountains, canyons, and the Pacific Ocean.

Piece by piece, a trail is forging its way along the "backbone" of the recreation area. California State Parks took the first step toward a 65-mile Backbone Trail in 1978. With 5 miles left to go, single track trails and fireroads will unite this patchwork of public parklands from east to west.