Regal Horned Lizard File

Phrynosoma solare

Credit: Room237, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons








Wild 9-10 years

Captive 9-10 years




Conservation Status


Least Concern

A Lizard That Can Spurt Blood!

The regal horned lizard is able to spurt blood from its eyes. This is directed at predators and in the mouth of carnivores can cause a reaction which distracts them so the lizard can escape.

These animals hunt for ants eating as many as 2500 in each meal and they have many adaptations which help prevent being injured while eating these.

Females will deposit their eggs in a small hole dug in the sand.

They are threatened by urbanization and agricultural development. Most of their declines come from natural predators though such as snakes and birds.

Read on to learn more about these remarkable reptiles.


What does the Regal Horned Lizard look like?

Their name is taken from the small spikes found across their body. Four, sharp horns are located at the base of the skull. The horns connect with one another at the base.

Across their body the scales are colored a lightish grey. This may be patterned by some light pastel shades of brown, tan or red. On their underside the scales are colored a pale, yellowish-grey.

Dependent on their environment this species can change their color from light to dark to match.

At the end of their body is a short tail. This is broad where it joins the body and tapers to a point at its end.

An average individual will measure 12.7cm (5in) long. Females tend to be slightly larger than males.


How does the Regal Horned Lizard survive in its habitat?

When eating the regal horned lizard will quickly push ants past the teeth and down the throat. Here they are encased in mucus which disables the stinger. This allows them to swallow them without harm.

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What does the Regal Horned Lizard eat?

Regal horned lizards are carnivores which will feed on invertebrates such as spiders and ants which are a primary component on their diet.

In a single meal each lizard can consume as many as 2500 ants. They find a column of ants and quickly eat as many as possible. They do not remain there long so that they can avoid being mobbed by the ants.

Learn more about the Regal Horned Lizard in this video from Brave Wilderness on YouTube


Where do you find the Regal Horned Lizard?

North America is the native home of the regal horned lizard. Here they can be found in Mexico and the United States.


Where can the Regal Horned Lizard survive?

This species is found in desert, grassland, shrubland and rocky habitats. In a few small regions they occur in oak woodland.

They are most often found on flat ground or areas with a gentle slope. Their habitat is typically hot and dry.

Regal Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma solare)

Credit: Luxil, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


How does the Regal Horned Lizard produce its young?

Mating is observed from April to July.

Females will dig a hole in the ground in to which they can deposit their eggs. Eggs are colored white and hatch after a few weeks of incubation. Each clutch can include 15-30 eggs.

At hatching the young are entirely independent and will find their own food.

Full size is achieved by three years old.


What does the Regal Horned Lizard do during its day?

As fall ends they will bury themselves in to the sand where they can be kept warm. They will remain their inactive until spring when the sun begins to warm them up once again.

Juvenile lizards tend to undertake a shorter period of inactivity.

At the start of the day the regal horned lizard will spend time resting in the sun to obtain the heat necessary to produce energy.

Regal Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma solare)

Credit: brdavids, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What stops the Regal Horned Lizard from surviving and thriving?

Natural predators of the regal horned include wolves, coyotes, reptiles such as snakes and birds such as the roadrunner.

If threatened by a predator they will began by bobbing their head and hissing. If this is unsuccessful they can rupture blood vessels around their eyes causing blood to spurt out and travel long distances.

Their blood binds to receptors in the predators mouth. To get rid of the bad taste they will shake their head and salivate giving the regal horned lizard time to escape.

When threatened they will inflate their body so it appears too big for the predator to swallow.

Regal horned lizards have a stable population. At present the total population has not been formally established but estimates place it at over 10,000 and potentially more than 100,000.

Over their range no significant threats are facing this species. In some small areas they are affected by urbanization and agricultural development.

It is possible for this species to be hunted with a license in some parts of their range.

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Quick facts

They may also be known as the desert regal horned lizard, horny toad or horned toad.

This species was first described for modern science during 1845.

References 2022. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 April 2022]. 2022. Horned Lizards. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 April 2022].

Animals. 2022. Regal Horned Lizard. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 April 2022]. 2022. Regal Horned Lizard. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 April 2022].

Oddity Central. 2022. This Lizard Shoots Blood Out of Its Eyes to Keep Predators at Bay. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 April 2022].

Hammerson, G.A., Frost, D.R. & Gadsden, H. 2007. Phrynosoma solareThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2007: e.T64081A12734740. Accessed on 20 April 2022.

Kierzek, M. 2000. "Phrynosoma solare" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 19, 2022 at

The Reptile Database. 2022. Phrynosoma solare. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 April 2022].

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