Although some people call me a horned toad (or even a horny toad! (how rude)), I am lizard, and a very important one, at that. I am the state reptile of Wyoming. I hope that you are honored.

I live in plains and sagebrush all across Wyoming (except where it’s really cold, like Laramie), and although I have an intimidating appearance I am very docile and gentle. Most of the time I avoid being eaten because I am well camouflaged and quiet. My color is very similar to that of the ground. I use all sorts of surprising ploys to distract and confuse predators. I puff my body up so that I look larger and more difficult to swallow, and I run in short bursts and stop suddenly. My worst enemies are coyotes and foxes, and I have a super power to keep them away. I can squirt a stream of blood from the corner of my eye with great aim and up to 5 ft away! They hate to get my blood on their snouts and they leave me alone after a single encounter with my super power. If my face looks stained with blood, most likely it is because I had a fierce battle with a fox or coyote. Obviously, I won. Biologists call my blood squirting power by the fancy name “ocular autohemorrhaging”. No human knows why foxes, coyotes, and dogs find my blood so repulsive, and I will never tell my secret.

Because I eat mostly ants, you can often find me close to ant mounds. I am not a hasty eater, like other lizards, but poised and methodical. I sit and wait for ants to come close, then I catch them with my sticky tongue and fill my ample stomach. I can eat up to 200 ants a day! My big stomach is why my body is broad and flattened. During the summer, females give birth to many (up to 16) live babies. When a female is pregnant, she looks more round than flat, a bit like a racketball with legs. Fortunately, our young are ready to take care of themselves after only a few hours. Because we are unable to regulate our body temperature by producing internal heat, we often bask in the sun, but if it gets too hot we seek the shade of a shrub. In the fall when night temperatures approach freezing, I dig a place to spend the winter. No one knows how deep my wintering burrow is (You see I’m good at keeping secrets.), but I am fond of digging into banks of washes if they are available.