Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Regal Horned Lizard

When I was in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in May, I asked one of the rangers at the visitor's center if there was any place in particular that was good for finding horned lizards. I had recently seen some coast horned lizards and desired to see a different kind. I was surprized to hear the ranger say, "I've never heard of anyone seeing a horned lizard." I thought, of all places, that Organ Pipe would be a good place for horned lizards. Well, that very evening, I found one.

I had hiked up Alamo Canyon to the corral and was walking back to the campground. This was on a trail just above the wash. It was dusk. I noticed something move in front of me and stop. I looked closely, and at first, could not see anything. Then I saw a horned lizard that blended in so well that it was difficult to see, even when you knew it was there and were looking right at it.

Even as I took pictures, I alternated with flash, and without flash, trying to get a picture that would show up well.

Liked the coast horned lizards I saw in the San Felipe Hills, these regal horned lizards blended into the rocks exactly. You will note that there are rocks and sections of the skin on the lizard that are virtually indistinguishable.

It was a very young lizard and quite easy to catch. The pictures above were taken without a flash and I have lightened them up a lot and increased the contrast to see the lizard better. The pictures below were taken with a flash and it is more difficult to doctor up the pictures to make the lizard stand out.

The regal horned lizard is distinguished by the light color on the back and the four large horns on the back of the head that connect at the bases.

When I caught it, it actually rotated it's head back and forth against my fingers, I'm sure to try and inflict some pain so that I would let it go. I had read they did it, but had never experienced it. It was so small I barely felt the horns, let alone having any feeling of pain.

Now that I've seen another species of horned lizard, I'm excited to find another.

1 comment:

  1. Ooooh, how cool! I love horned lizards. For some reason I think they are just so darned cute and fun to hold. How cool that you saw one of these when the ranger had never heard of anyone seeing one! I'm impressed you spotted him, he's very well camouflaged.