In Oregon, there are two types of horned lizards that can be found, and they are often mistaken for toads due to their plump bodies, short legs, and bumpy, scaly skin. These unique reptiles have fascinating characteristics that set them apart from other animals, such as the ability to shoot blood from their eyes. The first type of horned lizard found in Oregon is the Pygmy Short-Horned Lizard, which can tolerate colder temperatures and is often found in rocky terrains with pockets of loose soil. They primarily feed on ants and have a unique defense mechanism of burying themselves in the soil. The second type is the Desert Horned Lizard, which prefers arid climates and sandy flats in southeastern Oregon. They are skilled dancers and often perform mating dances to attract a mate. Spotting them in their habitat can be as simple as driving slowly in the late afternoon.
Pygmy Short-Horned Lizard
The Pygmy Short-Horned Lizard, scientifically known as Phrynosoma douglasii, is a small lizard that measures between 1.25 and 2.5 inches in length from snout to vent, not including the tail. One distinct feature of this lizard is the single row of fringe scales that line the sides of its body. These scales give it a unique appearance among other reptiles.
Pygmy Short-Horned Lizards are commonly found in Oregon, particularly in rocky terrain with patches of loose soil. They prefer open plains that are accompanied by sagebrush or open pine forests. These lizards have also proven to be more tolerant of colder temperatures compared to other lizards. In fact, they are known to survive in mountainous regions at elevations of up to 11,000 feet!
The range of the Pygmy Short-Horned Lizard extends across various parts of Oregon. They can be found in different habitats ranging from rocky areas to open plains. Their ability to adapt to colder temperatures allows them to thrive in mountainous regions as well.
Ants are the primary source of food for Pygmy Short-Horned Lizards. They are often seen near ant colonies, waiting patiently for their next meal. These lizards are skilled at ambushing ants and utilizing their unique hunting techniques. They have been observed burying themselves in the soil with a “shimmying” motion, moving from side to side until their backs are covered in sand. This behavior serves as their primary defense mechanism against predators.
Desert Horned Lizard
The Desert Horned Lizard, scientifically known as Phrynosoma platyrhinos, is slightly larger than the Pygmy Short-Horned Lizard. It measures between 2.5 and 3.75 inches in length from snout to vent, excluding the tail. The lizard’s coloration can vary, with shades of brown, tan, reddish, gray, or black. Wavy, dark blotches can be seen on its back and neck, while it sports a blunt snout and short horns.
True to its name, the Desert Horned Lizard prefers the arid climate found in sandy flats and dunes in southeastern Oregon. It is often found in areas where cactus, creosote, and saltbush are prevalent. These habitats provide the lizard with the necessary conditions for survival and reproduction.
The Desert Horned Lizard can be found in various regions of southeastern Oregon, where the arid climate and sandy terrain meet its habitat requirements.
Desert Horned Lizards are known for their interesting mating behavior. They often engage in mating dances that involve intricate body movements. These dances may include head bobbing, weaving, and tail movements. Unlike some other lizards that use body movement displays as a sign of aggression, Desert Horned Lizards mainly utilize these moves to attract a mate.
Field Guide Recommendation
If you need additional help identifying horned lizards in Oregon, we recommend using the “Peterson Field Guides to Western Reptiles and Amphibians.” This comprehensive guide provides detailed information and illustrations to help you distinguish between different species.
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Have you encountered any of these horned lizards in Oregon? We would love to hear about your observations and experiences. Please leave a comment below to share your encounters with these fascinating creatures.
In Oregon, two types of horned lizards can be found: the Pygmy Short-Horned Lizard and the Desert Horned Lizard. Each of these lizards has unique identifying characteristics, preferred habitats, and behavior patterns.
The Pygmy Short-Horned Lizard is a small lizard that can easily be recognized by its single row of fringe scales and its compact size. It is commonly found in rocky terrain with patches of loose soil in Oregon. Despite its small size, it is capable of tolerating colder temperatures and can even thrive at high elevations in mountainous regions.
On the other hand, the Desert Horned Lizard is slightly larger than the Pygmy Short-Horned Lizard and has distinctive coloration, with wavy, dark blotches on its back and neck. It prefers the arid climate found in sandy flats and dunes in southeastern Oregon. This lizard is often seen in habitats that feature cactus, creosote, and saltbush.
When it comes to feeding behavior, the Pygmy Short-Horned Lizard primarily feeds on ants. It can often be found near ant colonies, waiting to ambush its prey. Utilizing its unique hunting techniques, it buries itself in the soil with a shimmying motion to cover its back in sand, providing protection against predators.
In terms of mating behavior, the Desert Horned Lizard is known for its intricate dances. It employs various body movements, such as head bobbing, weaving, and tail movements, to attract a mate. These dances are primarily displayed during the mating season.
If you are interested in learning more about horned lizards and their identification, we recommend using the “Peterson Field Guides to Western Reptiles and Amphibians.” This field guide offers detailed information and illustrations that will assist you in identifying different species of horned lizards.
Have you encountered any of these horned lizards in Oregon? We would love to hear about your experiences and observations. Please leave a comment below to share your encounters with these fascinating creatures.