Nonnatives - Texas Horned Lizard

Texas Horned Lizard - Phrynosoma cornutum


Florida's Exotic Wildlife. Species detail.

First year: 1934

Extirpated year:

Established status: Populations are confirmed breeding and apparently self-sustaining for 10 or more consecutive years.

Estimated Florida range: 2 counties  At least 10 years, 8 counties  Not reported breeding

Statewide trend: Unknown status

Texas Horned Lizard
Photograph by Kevin M. Enge © 2003

Threats to natives:

Species Account: This species is native to the Great Plains and naturally occurs as far east as northwestern Louisiana (Conant and Collins 1991). Multiple introductions were made by pet dealers and purchasers in the decades when this species was commonly sold in pet stores, despite its diet being restricted to ants. The species was apparently able to survive in Florida in open habitats with dry, sandy soils, such as beaches, coastal strand, sandhills, scrub, and early successional communities, such as fields. Horned lizards are uncommon in the pet trade now, and the status of past populations in Florida is unknown but apparently declining. This species is typically less than 15 cm (6 in) long and is characterized by spines, especially on the head, where the 2 center ones are enlarged. It is reddish, tan, or buff on the back with 5 pairs of light-edged, irregular, dark spots. It feeds almost exclusively on ants. It often basks while lying motionless for long periods on open ground, where it is extremely well camouflaged, but it can move quickly when startled. It will also bury itself partially or completely in the sand (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999).

Habitats: Coastal upland, Barren land, Low density suburban development, areas peripheral to core urban areas, and small towns, Agricultural habitat, Recently disturbed, early successional community, Xeric Uplands

County First Year Extirpated Year Breeding status Notes
DADE 1934


Not reported breeding Successfully breeding on Fort George Island (Allen and Neill 1955, King and Krakauer 1966); population still extant in 1988 (K. M. Enge, FFWCC, Quincy, personal observation)
DUVAL 1941


At least 10 years Successfully breeding on Fort George Island (Allen and Neill 1955, King and Krakauer 1966); population still extant in 1988 (K. M. Enge, FFWCC, Quincy, personal observation)


At least 10 years Santa Rosa Island (Carr 1940, Jensen 1994)


Not reported breeding Vero Beach (Allen and Neill 1955)
LAKE 1934


Not reported breeding Possibly established in Leesburg (Goff 1935)


Not reported breeding Belleview (Allen and Neill 1955)


Not reported breeding Two from orange grove in Winter Park (Carr 1940)


Not reported breeding West Palm Beach (King and Krakauer 1966)
POLK 1955


Not reported breeding Rumored to be in Winter Haven (Allen and Neill 1955)


Not reported breeding Palatka (Carr 1940)


Allen, E. R., and W. T. Neill. 1955. Establishment of the Texas horned lizard, Phrynosoma cornutum, in Florida. Copeia 1955:63-64.

Bartlett, R. D., and P. P. Bartlett. 1999. A field guide to Florida reptiles and amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, Texas. 278pp.

Carr, A. F., Jr. 1940. A contribution to the herpetology of Florida. University of Florida Publications, Biological Sciences 3:1-118.

Conant, R., and J. T. Collins. 1991. A field guide to amphibians and reptiles of eastern and central North America. Third edition. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. 450pp.

De Sola, C. R. 1934. Phrynosoma from Florida. Copeia 1934:190.

Goff, C. C. 1935. An additional note on Phrynosoma cornutum in Florida. Copeia 1935:45.

Jensen, J. B. 1994. Phrynosoma cornutum (Texas horned lizard). Herpetological Review 25:165.

King, F. W., and T. Krakauer. 1966. The exotic herpetofauna of southeast Florida. Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Sciences 29:144-154.

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