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Lizards with horns? Yes!

By Buck Ray

Check out the Round-Tailed Lizard’s thorny headgear.
Check out the Round-Tailed Lizard’s thorny headgear. Courtesy Photographer: User: Dawson

There is a unique group of lizards found in Oklahoma and other Southwestern states which many people may not be aware. Although most people have seen a Horny Toad, few have seen or are aware that Oklahoma is home to more than one species of horned lizard.

The distribution of the Round-tailed Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma modestum) is much more restricted in Oklahoma than its more common cousin, the Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum).

The Round-tailed Horned Lizard is restricted to extreme northwestern portions of the Oklahoma panhandle in Cimarron County. Because of this limited distribution, few people ever see this amazing lizard. This species is listed as a species of special concern in Oklahoma and is also protected by state law and cannot be removed from the wild.

This Texas horned lizard is one of the eight horned lizard cousins. Photo Courtesy USFWS by Steve Hillebrand.

There are 8 species of Horned Lizards found within the continental United States all of which are ant eaters. Although color patterns vary widely within species and local populations tend to match the color of their surrounding environment, they are fairly easy to distinguish from each other by the variation in the arrangement of the horns on their head.

If you get a chance to venture way out west into the Black Mesa Country of the panhandle, keep a look out for this remarkable reptile.

-- By Buck Ray, environmental biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

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