Monday, April 27, 2009

Desert Critters: Horned Lizards

Lizards, of the type variably called horned lizards, horned toads, or horny toads [that's how I've always heard it!] were out sunning when MOH and I stopped at our central Nevada hiking spot while traversing Highway 50 the other day.
I photographed two, though there were others I missed. This one was first resting in a spot on the trail to the Cold Springs Pony Express Station. As soon as we approached, it ran off to blend into the shadows under a sagebrush.
Horned toads are of the species Phrynosoma; this one, with three large horns at the back of its head, is probably a Phrynosoma platyrhinos.
He(?) kept one eye on me almost all the time. After hiding under the bush, he ran out into the middle of a relatively unvegetated area (dirt) and froze, flattening his body against the ground as a way of hiding in plain view. He was difficult, indeed, to follow on the viewscreen of my camera.
One last view before our horny toad runs under another bush.
And here's a small horned lizard - I think this is the same kind as above, but a youngster!

Horned lizards have their very own conservation society: Phrynosoma.Org.

This post is an entry in the Carnival of the Arid #4, hosted by Chris Clarke at Coyote Crossing.


Arvind said...

I love your hiking pics!! A great set from every hike!

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

great work getting those shots! How big are these guys?

Silver Fox said...

Arvind, Cath - thanks!

The little guy is probably < 2 inches; the larger one maybe 3-4 inches. Not very big! USGS link says they are 2.5-3.75 in (6.4-9.4 cm) in size.

Hard to get a quarter or pencil or boot (or anything) into the picture for scale - other than the little tiny rocks and an occassional blade of grass!

Desert Survivor said...

How lucky you've already gotten to see a horned lizard! I'm going to have to go out looking.

ReBecca Hunt-Foster said...

Nice! I actually saw a horney toad recently in New Mexico. He was just sitting on an ant pile. I think I would have probably reach down and touched him. He was about the size of my hand. I was cursing my dead camera battery!

Silver Fox said...

Desert Survivor, I hope you find one!

Silver Fox said...

ReBecca, I hate it when I've forgotten to carry extra batteries with me! It happened recently on a short hike.

A hand-sized horned lizard - does that include the tail?

ReBecca Hunt-Foster said...

I guess it was more palm sized. It did have its tail, yes, but it was not a long tail.

Liz at Yips and Howls said...

These guys look a bit bigger than the P. Hernandesi from central Arizona I wrote on (see link below). I adore horned lizards and am tempted to move somewhere where I can see them everyday. Nice pics.

Liz -

Silver Fox said...

Liz, those lizards of yours do look a little smaller - though all we have to go on is the size of grass blades and pine needles. The larger one I saw flattened its body against the ground when in the open area, so looked larger, and also was a little colorful compared to the background dirt.

I don't get to see these often, but they are a treat!