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Animal Facts - Horned Lizards




 

In this page we will look at the incredible horned lizards.

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Can horned lizards spit blood out of their eyes?

Yes, at least four varieties of horned lizard do spit blood out of their eyes as a message for predators to back off! When threatened, a horned lizard has a detailed escape plan. First, it runs and stops suddenly, trying to confuse the predator. If that doesn’t work, its next line of defense is to puff up its body and show off its spiny scales. As a last resort, the lizard will increase the blood pressure in its head until small blood vessels in its eyes rupture. This causes blood to squirt out in a stream that can carry for up to three feet. The blood confuses the predator and tastes really bad, too—or at least canines and felines seem to think so.

The horned lizard is popularly called a "horned toad," "horny toad", or "horned frog," but it is neither a toad nor a frog. The names come from the lizard's rounded body and blunt snout, which make it resemble a toad or frog (see the picture above). The spines on its back and sides are made from modified scales, whereas the horns on the heads are true horns with a bony core.

The horned lizards have other ways of avoiding predation besides shooting blood. Their coloration generally serves as camouflage. When threatened, their first defense is to remain still and hope to avoid detection. If approached too closely, they generally run in short bursts and stop abruptly to confuse the predator's visual acuity. If this fails, they puff up their body to cause its spiny scales to protrude, making it appear larger and more difficult to swallow.

This video shows a horned lizard shooting blood from its eyes to protect itself.





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