Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Alan D. St. John
Photo Copyright Alan D. St. John

The greater short-horned lizard, Phrynosoma hernandesi, occurs throughout much of the western United States, and into portions of southern Canada and northern Mexico. It is common in Utah, where it primarily inhabits open areas in habitats ranging from grasslands to high mountains. Although commonly called "horned-toads," greater short-horned lizards are reptiles, not amphibians.

The greater short-horned lizard can tolerate colder temperatures than many other reptile species can withstand. They do, however, bury themselves in loose soil and become inactive during very cold weather. Female greater short-horned lizards do not lay eggs, but rather give birth to live young during mid- to late summer. Invertebrates, especially ants, comprise the bulk of the greater short-horned lizard diet.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Stebbins, R. C. 1985. A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 336 pp.