The Amazing Defense Mechanism of the Horned Lizard
Some animals have incredible ways of protecting themselves from predators. One of them is the horned lizard, a spiny reptile that lives in the deserts of North America. When threatened, this lizard can squirt a stream of blood from its eyes, startling and deterring its enemies.
How does it do that According to Sage Advices, the horned lizard has two muscles that line the major veins around its eyes. When these muscles contract, they cut off blood flow back to the heart, while it continues to flow into the head. This floods the ocular sinuses with blood, building pressure, and causing them to bulge. The lizard can then rupture tiny blood vessels near its eyelids and shoot blood up to five feet away[^4^].
This bizarre tactic is not only effective at scaring off predators, but also at making them sick. The blood of the horned lizard contains a chemical that is distasteful and toxic to some animals, such as coyotes and wolves[^5^]. This helps the lizard survive in a harsh environment where food and water are scarce.
If you want to see this amazing defense mechanism in action, you can watch some videos on YouTube. Here are two examples: Blood-Squirting Lizard World's Weirdest and Blood Squirting Lizard National Geographic. But don't worry, horned lizards rarely squirt blood at humans[^3^]. They are harmless and fascinating creatures that deserve our respect and admiration.
Horned lizards belong to the genus Phrynosoma, which means \"toad-bodied\". There are 21 species of horned lizards in the world, most of them native to North America[^1^] [^2^]. They vary in size, color, and shape, but they all have horns or spines on their heads and bodies. Some of them have very prominent horns, such as the regal horned lizard (P. solare) and the Mexican horned lizard (P. taurus), while others have shorter or flatter horns, such as the pygmy short-horned lizard (P. douglasii) and the flat-tailed horned lizard (P. mcallii).
Horned lizards are adapted to live in arid or semiarid habitats, such as deserts, grasslands, and scrublands. They are mainly insectivorous, feeding on ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and other arthropods. Some species specialize on harvester ants, which are venomous and have a strong chemical defense. Horned lizards have evolved a resistance to the ant venom and a preference for the ant taste[^1^]. They also have a large stomach that can store up to 60% of their body weight in food and water[^3^]. This helps them survive during droughts or cold periods.
Horned lizards are mostly diurnal, meaning they are active during the day. They regulate their body temperature by basking in the sun or seeking shade. They also use their coloration to blend in with their surroundings and avoid detection by predators. They can change their skin color slightly to match the substrate or the season[^1^]. Horned lizards are solitary animals, except during the breeding season. They communicate with each other through visual signals, such as head-bobbing, push-ups, and tail-wagging[^3^]. aa16f39245