Regal Horned Lizard
Body length: 3 - 5"
Diet: Primarily ants, but some other insects as well
This species is probably called "regal" because of its king's crown of sharply-pointed horns. The horns are primarily used for defense against predators, and there is a recorded case of a young rattlesnake dying in an attempt to eat one. A Native American story describes how the trickster Coyote received a severe bellyache from trying to eat a horned lizard. Like several other horned lizards, this species has another ploy to ward off potential predators. When molested, it sometimes squirts blood out of its eyes! Though often called "horny toads", horned lizards are certainly not toads, which are amphibians. They are lizards, which are reptiles.
At Tonto National Monument regal horned lizards favor flat, open terrain and mesa-like hilltops where ants can be found. Ants comprise 90% of their diet.
Did You Know?
The first known written record of the cliff dwellings at Tonto National Monument dates from 1880. Archeologist Adolph Bandelier visited the dwellings in 1883, and said they were some of the best preserved he had ever seen. More...