Bloodshot Lizards

Bloodshot Lizards


            Horned lizards scientific name is phrynosoma hernandesi, they are a type of retile that feeds on carnivores and are about 2.5 to 6 in; as small as a teacup. Horned-lizard species can be found in the deserts and semi-arid environments of North and Central America, from southern Canada to Guatemala. There are eight different species of horned lizards; P. asio, O, cornutum, P. coronatum, P. ditmarsi, P. hernanadesi, P. orbiculare, P. solare, and P, Taurus. And all of them have a very strange and effective way of getting rid of their predator.

Shooting Blood

            Horned Lizards have a variety of ways they used to avoid predation. First, their body is already camouflaged; which helps them to blend in. In the environment they live in, they are prone to many predators and when threatened, their first line of defense would be to remain still. Though, just like any animal, if you approached them too closely, they would run away in short bursts and then stop suddenly to confuse the predator. However, if they are detected, they would puff up their bodies to appear bigger and to prevent themselves from getting swallowed. Nevertheless, this is just some of the many things they are capable of, horned lizards are able to shoot and aim a stream of blood from out of the corner of their eyes to scare predators. They are able to do this voluntarily by restricting the blood flow leaving the head and therefore increasing the blood pressure in their sinuses until they explode. The stream of blood that shoots from their eyes is able to travel up to 5 feet. However, the blood that is expelled from their eyes are not poisonous and only confuses predators. Though, canine and feline find the taste of the blood foul while it as no effects on birds. 


The Blood Advantage

            The blood that comes out of the horned lizard is already found in their circulating blood system. There is an assumption that the lizard diet of eating large quantities of venomous harvester ants could be a factor in the foul taste; however, the origin and structure of the chemicals responsible are still unknown. They are also known to eat grasshoppers, beetles, and spiders. This defensive mechanism as increase the horned lizard survival rate and have given them an evolutionary advantage. 






Horned Lizard by Mike Lewinski is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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