These flat, bulky lizards with numerous spikes and horns on their heads are often referred to as “horny toads,” or “horned lizards.” Depending on where they live, they can range in color from pale gray to darker gray, tan, or reddish-brown. Why would their color depend on where they live? So they can blend in with their surroundings to avoid predators. Short horned lizards live up to their name with numerous small horn-like scales on their bodies and heads. They are called short-horned lizards so that scientists can tell them apart from their cousins, the desert horned lizards, who also live in Idaho and have longer horns.
Short-horned lizards live in arid (dry) climates. If you visit many sagebrush-steppe BLM lands in south Idaho, you will likely see short horned or desert horned lizards scampering in between clumps of grass or sagebrush. They can also be found in open pine forests, pinion-juniper forests, and shortgrass praries. These little reptiles like to burrow under loose soil to hide. They are fun to watch, but if you pick them up, please be gentle and put them back where you found them when you leave. Wild animals do not live well in captivity and usually die when taken from their natural habitats.
Short-horned lizards are great hunters of ants and other insects, spiders, and snails.
These lizards also give birth to live young (viviparous), rather than their cousins, the desert horned lizards, who lay eggs. Newborn short-horned lizards are very small, but they look like their parents when they are born, horns and all!