How Do Horned Lizards Protect Themselves?

horned-lizards-protect-themselves Credit: Nature/UIG/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Horned lizards protect themselves in many ways, including breaking the blood vessels in their eyes and shooting blood up to 4 feet in the air to distract predators, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. They also eject small amounts of blood from the inner corners of their eyes to confuse predators.

The color of horned lizards naturally camouflage them, making it easier for them to hide it from many predators, according to Wikipedia. When predators are around, the horned lizard's first defense is to remain still. If it still feels threatened, it begins to puff up its body to make it appear larger and to increase the size of its horns. If the predator attempts to attack, the horned lizard turns its head so its predominate cranial horn is straight up. If all else fails, horned lizards use the blood-shooting defense.

An adult Texas horned lizard is 2 to 4 inches in length. Its body is round, and it has a short, blunt tail. Although it's often referred to as a horned toad or horned frog, the horned lizard is actually a reptile. It lives in open, dry habitats where vegetation is sparse and prefers sandy or loose soil where rocks are abundant. The best time to look for horned lizards is on a sunny morning when they bask in open areas, including the edges of gravel or dirt roads.