Sunday, May 6, 2012

Southern Desert Horned Lizard

Saturday I went out to the Hayfield Road exit off the I-10 and hiked into Carey's Castle. About 30 yards from the Castle I found a small southern desert horned lizard 
scramble ahead of me under a bush. I have been out to this area many times and this is the first horned lizard I've seen there, so I was quite excited. The desert horned lizard has one row of fringe scales on each side of the body 
(the coast horned lizard has two rows of fringe scales). The color resembles the soil color of the habitat. 
It blend in so well that when I was taking pictures I sometimes couldn't see the lizard within the view finder although I knew I was looking right at it. 
Its main defense is to remain motionless and blend into the background to make it difficult to see. 
A pair of large dark blotches mark the neck 
and wavy dark blotches mark the back. The belly is white with scattered small dark spots. 
It has a blunt snout 
and horns that extend from the back of the head, with the two back, central horns, the longest. 
The main distinguishing characteristic between the northern and southern desert horned lizard is that the two back horns on the southern are longer than on the northern and the spaces between the bases of the horns are smaller.

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