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.

cu 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


Last updated: April 4, 2016

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Bandelier National Monument
15 Entrance Road

Los Alamos, NM 87544


505 672-3861 x0

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