Short-Horned Lizard

Small lizard on rocks
Short-horned lizard sunning.

U.S. Forest Service, Southwestern Region, Kaibab National Forest


Scientific Name

Greater (Mountain) Short-Horned Lizard: Phrynosoma hernandesi



  • Often wrongly called a "horny toad," this species of lizard has a crown of short spines on the head, and a low of small spines on each side of its body.
  • They are small squat lizards, with a blunt snout. They reach up to about 6 inches (15cm) in length.
  • They are grey, yellowish, or reddish-brown, with a row of dark spots along the back.


  • Mountain short-horned lizards are found throughout western North America, ranging from central Mexico to the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
  • In the Grand Canyon, short-horned lizards are found on the Rims and inside the Canyon. Their camouflage makes them very difficult to see.


  • Short-horned lizards are ambush predators, and will remain motionless until prey comes close enough to grab.
  • They feed on small insects, which they swallow whole. Ants are their primary food source.
  • In the Grand Canyon, short-horned lizards hibernate in burrows during the winter.
  • When threatened, short-horned lizards shoot blood from specialized tear ducts in the corners of their eyes. They can shoot this blood up to three feet (one meter) to startle and confuse predators.
  • Populations of short-horned lizards have been in decline in recent decades, due to habitat destruction, capture for the pet trade, and eradication of ants.

More Information

Short Horned Lizards in Arizona- AZ Game and Fish Video

Last updated: March 14, 2016

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PO Box 129
Grand Canyon , AZ 86023



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