12- The regal horned lizard (Phrynosoma solare)
The regal horned lizard (Phrynosoma solare) is a horned lizard species native to Mexico and the Southwest United States.
Regal horned lizard
Conservation status :
Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification :
Binomial name :
The regal horned lizard is a small, flat lizard about the size of the palm of a man's hand. Though it has spikes all around its body, the regal horn’s main defense is the ability to squirt blood from its eyes.
3–4 inches in length from nose to tail as a full adult.
Pale grey to yellow-brown or reddish topped with dark blotches alongside the body and back.
4 legs each leg with 4 toes and claws on each toe.
Slow runner that uses camouflage to escape predators.
This lizard can be found across southeastern Arizona and along the transition of the southern zone of the central mountains region.
This horned lizard occupies primarily level or gently sloping terrain with openly spaced desert vegetation such as mesquite, creosote bush, and saguaro cactus.
 It can be found primarily in a hot and dry climate where the Earth may be covered in limestone dust. It is found in the Sonoran Desert Mountains is where it prefers its climate, but can be found in Texas, southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Regal horned lizard
They eat mostly harvester ants, and can eat twenty-five hundred ants in one meal. They are slow eaters, because they spend most of their time in the intense heat of the desert during meals. They eat flies, spiders, and a variety of insects.
This is a year-round active type of lizard, but during winter, its activity is usually restricted to unseasonably warm days. They may hibernate late September through October. The lizard basks in the sun with only its head poking out of the sand. The blood is heated within a chamber inside the head. When the blood is hot enough, the reptile opens a valve in its neck and circulates the blood around the body. It looks for shelter from cold temperatures by digging holes in the ground. When it is threatened or captured, it squirts blood from its eye. This blood may have a taste used to deter predators. If the camouflage and intimidation does not work, that is when they squirt out blood aiming for the predators mouth and eyes. This stream can range up to 4 feet and may be repeated several times. The stream comes out through its lower eyelids' pores. Some other defensive behaviors include gulping air and poking with the horns.
Mating for the regal horned lizard begins in late April, peaks in June, and stops abruptly in July. Egg laying starts a few weeks later, usually in late July and early August. About 10–30 eggs are laid (15 on average). The eggs are laid in the sand and are required to stay there for several weeks. The egg shells are white and flexible and average about one-half inch in diameter. The hatch-lings receive no parental care upon hatching and immediately bury themselves in the sand. They are now responsible for finding and hunting for their own food. Several diverting tactics are used to attract a mate, such as: head bopping, push ups, and nodding of the head.
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Focus on Species: Regal Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma solare)
Care Articles :
REGAL HORNED LIZARD Phrynosoma (Anota) solare
courtesy to : www.reptilesofaz.org/Lizards-Subpages/h-p-solare.html
DESCRIPTION: A medium-sized (up to 117 mm or 4.6" from snout to vent), exceptionally flat and wide lizard with a short tail and a crown of flattened, dagger-like horns radiating from the back of the head. The base of each of the four central horns is in contact with that of its neighbor distinguishing this lizard from all other horned lizards in Arizona. Several isolated, pointed scales project from the back. Each lower side of the body is edged with a single fringe of enlarged, pointed scales. The anterior surfaces of the limbs are covered with enlarged, keeled, pointed, projecting scales. Base coloration is usually reddish brown, tan, or gray and usually matches the soil on which the animal lives. The center of the back is usually noticeably lighter in color than the sides of the body. There are often two dark, muted, and soft-edged blotches on the neck. The underside is pale with small, dark spots. Some specimens have a faint, light colored stripe running down the middle of the back.
DISTRIBUTION: This lizard is distributed across southeastern Arizona and along the southern transition zone of our central mountains region. In our state it occurs at elevations ranging from about 900' to about 4,500’.
HABITAT: The range of this lizard in Arizona is within Arizona Upland Sonoran Desertscrub, Chihuahuan Desertscrub, and Semidesert Grassland communities. It inhabits valleys, rocky bajadas, and low foothills. It is usually encountered in relatively level areas with low shrubs, and open, sunny patches.
BEHAVIOR: This diurnal ground-dweller can be active at any time of the year but winter activity is usually restricted to unseasonably warm days. It seeks shelter from cold temperatures by burrowing into the soil. It occasionally squirts blood from its eyes when threatened or captured. This blood might have a foul taste designed to deter predators. Other defensive behaviors include inflating itself by gulping air and poking with the horns.
DIET: The Regal Horned Lizard feeds primarily on ants but it also takes beetles and other insects.
REPRODUCTION: In summer a clutch of up to 33 eggs is laid in a nest excavated from loose soil. The nest consists of a small chamber at the end of an approximately 14" long tunnel.
By Thomas C. Brennan
Brennan, T. C., & A. T. Holycross. 2006. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ
Brennan, T. C., & A. T. Holycross. 2005. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Maricopa County. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ
Degenhardt, W. G., Painter, C. W., and Price, A. H.. 1996. Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press. Albuquerque.
Stebbins, R.C. 2003. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.
Other websites :
Reproduction of the Regal Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma solare) in Captivity
courtesy to : www.southwesternherp.com/articles/phrynosomasolare.html
By : Mark A. Brock
Phrynosoma solare have been observed to reproduce in captivity. P. solare are relatively sedentary within the horned lizard groups (Baharav 1975). Their natural diet is known to be over 90% ants during most of their active season, although they may take quantities of other insects when there is abundance. Baharav, in his study noted a diet of 100% ants of the Pogonomyrmex rugosus species. Years of field observation has shown that all observed P. solare populations were coexisting with significant populations of harvester ants of the Pogonomyrmex genus, usually P. rugosus or P. barbatus. In captive populations it has been noted that P. solare are able to take these larger ants as food items at as little as 4 weeks of age, unlike other horned lizards species, who must rely on smaller ants in the hatchling stage (Chew 2002). These factors combine to produce exceptional growth in Phrynosoma solare in their first year. It has been noted by the author that among various P. rugosus nests there will be individuals or nests with significantly smaller ants than those of possibly older or better established nests.
In early April 2004 I received 4 small hatchlings from Joseph Collet from his captive breeding project. These hatchlings were born in September 2003 and labeled as follows:
1. male "J"
2. male "15"
3. female "D"
4. female "21"
The hatchling labeled as "15" was lost in the first week due to an enclosure accident. See photos of two of the remaining subjects in Fig 1. These hatchlings were provided suitable indoor and eventually outdoor habitat, with food items completely consistent with their natural diet. Weight was measured and recorded periodically during the months prior to reproduction. This study was performed to measure the growth progress of captive born hatchling P. solare in captivity. Is it possible that P. solare are able to achieve a body size and maturity significant enough to allow reproduction in less than 12 months from birth?
Fig. 1 Male and Female Phrynosoma solare Hatchlings 10 Apr 2004
METHODS AND MATERIALS
An indoor enclosure was configured in a 15" by 35" terrarium with a substrate of 3 inches of fine beach-like sand purchased from a reptile supply. Lighting consisted of a 160 watt PowerSun UV spectrum flood light by ZooMed. Light duration over the time of indoor habitation varied from 10 to 12 hours per day over the 4 month period they were housed indoors. All three individuals were place in an 8 foot by 8 foot outdoor enclosure on approximately July 1, 2004 where they remained until my relocation to Arizona on August 12th, 2004. This cage was located in Lancaster, California in the eastern most portion of the Mojave Desert. The area was a residential housing track adjacent to a natural desert area where ants were collected. The enclosure was a wire covered wood frame set in the natural substrata and vegetation of the Mojave Desert. This enclosure was wired framed on all sides, but the top was covered with a slightly light permeable shade cloth common to patio roofing.
The diet provided to these P. solare hatchlings was consistently 99+ % ants of the P. rugosus species for the duration of this record. Pogonomyrmex rugosus are native to most of the natural range of P. solare. The only variation would be the type of ants supplied with a small percentage of P. subnitidus or P. californicus being included at sporadic times during this first year in captivity. There would likely have been some incidental inclusion of wild insects during the period the lizards occupied the outdoor enclosure. No crickets or meal worms were fed to these individuals. Water was offered sporadically via a light spray from a garden hose. Frequency of watering was less than once per weak.
The P. solare hatchlings adjusted very well to both indoor and outdoor enclosures. No signs of stress due to human presence were noted. In fact, the solare would eat ants while being held in the palm of the author's hand. This calm nature is attributed to being socialized to humans from birth. Because the hatchlings were restricted to an 8 foot by 8 foot enclosure, they did not need to expend significant energy in their quest for either food or looking for a mate. The reduced energy requirement may have contributed to some extent to the rapid growth rate recorded. It should be noted however that P. solare hatchlings observed in the wild maintained similar growth rates. Also of note, P. cornutum under the same captive care parameters did not reach the level of maturity that the P. solare did for the same time period. The P. cornutum required a two year period to reach adult size, and three years to reach breeding maturity. As the hatchlings grew, their larger size enabled them to increase their ant intake significantly. This increased food intake translated into a much faster growth. Weight for these hatchlings was tracked over the first year period as illustrated in Table 1. Growth trends are charted in Table 2.
Table 2: Growth Trending for Male and Female ("J" and "21")
On 6 August 2004 the captive born female noted above as "21" was found under a small rock with a group of ten eggs. Following are my log notes for that event:
"Large female solare (captive bred from Joe Collet) laid 10 eggs today. They were laid in a dug out area of sand under a rock. The rock was about 6 to 8 inches thick, 15 inches wide and about 20 inches long. She was very obese prior to the event and now is noticeably thinner. Eggs were large and plump, approximately 1 inch in length and .5 inches across. They were pinkish, but were covered with sand by the time I was able to remove them from the enclosure. Approximate time eggs were deposited 4:00 pm 6 Aug 2004. Weight of female after laying eggs is 23.7 grams.
Fig. 2 Clutch of 10 Phrynosoma solare eggs laid on 06 Aug 2004
These eggs were immediately removed from the enclosure and placed in an incubator in a small dish of vermiculite and water. The temperature was set at 84°F. Six of the eggs subsequently hatched from 23 Sep 04 through 3 Oct 04. One of the hatchlings died after his first day for unknown reasons. All others eat and continue to do very well.
Fig. 3 Phrynosoma solare eggs hatching 23 Sep 2004
This study does show conclusively that P. solare are able to reproduce at less than 12 months of age. Because the eggs in the wild naturally hatch out in late August thru October, the time period is conducive to potential breeding in the wild before reaching 12 months of age. This information could have significant impact on conservation factors affecting P. solare and could be an important fact affecting further ecological study of the species.
LITERATURE CITED :
Baharav, D. 1975 Movement of the Horned Lizard Phrynosoma solare. Copiea 1975. 649-657
Chew. Robert M 2002. THE FOOD HABITS OF THE SYMPATRIC HORNED LIZARDS, Phrynosoma modestum and P. cornutum Publication: larrea-plot.com
Date submitted 23 Jan 2008
Regal Horned Lizard responds to physical contact - The Soceity for Horned Lizard Preservation
Lizards of AZ: Regal Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma solare)
Regal Horned Lizard flipping on back - The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation
Regal Horned Lizard in Cardiac Arrest - The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation
Species and subspecies:
Species and subspecies: