Fun Roundtail Horned Lizard Facts For Kids

Arpitha Rajendra
Feb 10, 2023 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Sonali Rawat
Read some amazing roundtail horned lizard facts.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.0 Min

The roundtail horned lizard (Phrynosoma modestum) is a small horned lizard species of the family Phrynosomatidae. Phrynosoma means 'body of a toad.' The word 'modestum' is of Latin origin, meaning 'modest' or 'calm.' They are usually referred to as 'tapayaxtin' in north-central Mexico. The lizards in this family are adapted to hot and sandy desserts as well as moist forest edges. This group of the family has both viviparous and oviparous species. There are nine genera of this family and Holbrookia, and Cophosaurus are two sister genera of earless taxa. Horned lizards are also called horn toads, spiny desert lizards, or horny toads. They camouflage well in deserts. Their spiky horns act as a defense, making it difficult for their predators to swallow them. There are three subspecies of horned lizards. As these have a flat round body with a small head, they are named roundtailed horned lizards. Some of these lizards have stripes on their tails, and they reflect the color of the soil. So, most roundtail horned species are gray, with some ranging between light brown or pale yellow.

If you love these roundtail horned lizard facts, then make sure to read these lava lizard facts and sand lizard facts.

Roundtail Horned Lizard Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a roundtail horned lizard?

The roundtail horned lizard is of the order Squamata and suborder Iguania. These North American lizards are of the genus Phrynosoma, and lizards of this genus have a common name, which refers to flat, short, and round bodies and blunt snouts. This horned toad is a calm species. They tend to scare a predator by squirting blood from their eyes. Apart from squirting blood, they have other mechanisms to escape a predator. This species is active during hot mornings and are less active in the afternoon.

What class of animal does a roundtail horned lizard belong to?

The round tailed horned lizard is of the class Reptilia.

How many roundtail horned lizards are there in the world?

The roundtail horned lizard distribution is across the United States. So, data on their population number is not available.

Where does a roundtail horned lizard live?

The roundtail horned lizard covers a range through the United States. They occupy eight states in Mexico, southern New Mexico, eastern Arizona, western Texas, and southeastern Colorado. They also occur in a range of northern American deserts, especially the Chihuahuan desert and southern Great Plains. The Chihuahuan desert range extends to Arizona, and several amphibians and reptiles related to horned lizards occur near Tuscan.

What is a roundtail horned lizard's habitat?

The round tailed horned lizard (Phrynosoma modestum) habitat range is across Northern America in the rocky, sandy semiarid habitat with sparse vegetation and desert. They especially occur near honeypot ants or harvester ants colonies.  The roundtail horned lizard range overlaps with Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum).

Who do roundtail horned lizards live with?

The round tailed horned lizard (Phrynosoma modestum) lives on their own and come in contact with each other during the breeding season.

How long does a roundtail horned lizard live?

This species of horned lizard lifespan is unknown. However, horned lizards live for at least five years.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction process of horned lizards takes place from April to July. The mode of their reproduction is oviparous. The female lays from May to August. There was evidence of two clutches per breeding season. The average clutch size 5-13. The female lays creamy white eggs. The juvenile roundtail horned lizard is found from July to October. There is very little information about breeding in the wildlife of this species. One juvenile was found in Otero County, Colorado, which was 0.04 oz (1.4 g) in mass and 1.06 in (26.9 mm).

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of this species of horned lizards is Least Concern.

Roundtail Horned Lizard Fun Facts

What do roundtail horned lizards look like?

Phrynosoma modestum body-color reflects the color of their natural habitat soil. They have a wide and flat body. These horned lizards of North America have a short tail that narrows down to the base. These are rounder and more slender than a typical horned lizard. They are mostly in gray color, and many of this species are found in light brown or pale yellow color. They have four short horns of almost equal length at the back of the head. Also, this species are the only ones to have four horns lined in a row at the back of the head. They have granular dorsal scales. They have only a few of these scales. Every lizard species have different types of scales. They have smooth ventral scales and no fringe scales. This species are the only lizards that do not have fringe scales on the dorsum or abdomen margins.

Amazing facts about the characteristics and habitat of the Roundtail Horned Lizard.

How cute are they?

Phrynosoma modestum is a desert lizard and is not considered cute.

How do they communicate?

The round tailed horned lizard (Phrynosoma modestum) communicate by releasing chemical like other lizards. They also communicate with body language and hissing.

How big is a roundtail horned lizard?

The roundtail horned lizard's total length is 4.3 in (10.9 cm). The snout-to-vent maximum length is 2.7 in (7 cm). These are one of the smallest horned lizards. The male species are smaller than females.

How fast can a roundtail horned lizard move?

This horned toad runs only for a short distance and then sits still abruptly when threatened. There is no data available on their speed.

How much does a roundtail horned lizard weigh?

There is no data available on their weight. The average weight of a horned lizard is 2 lb (0.9 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name given to the male and female of the species.

What would you call a baby roundtail horned lizard?

There is no specific name given to a baby roundtail horned lizard.

What do they eat?

The roundtail lizard's diet consists mostly of ant species. They also feed on insects. They eat harvester ants,  honeypot ants, and carpenter ants. They also eat lizard skins, beetles, worms, grasshopper, butterflies, spiders, bugs, and nematodes.

Are they dangerous?

These lizards are not harmful to human beings. However, their sharps horns can hurt you if they are not handled properly.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, they do make a good pet. You can find roundtail horned lizards for sale in many places in the United States, although many states have made it illegal to own these lizards because of their declining population.

Did you know...

Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) is also found in desert habitats in western Texas, eastern Mexico, and southern New Mexico. The population of this species is doing very well in south-eastern Arizona.

Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) has two rows of fringe scales.

According to a review done on amphibians and reptiles in New Mexico, there is a total of 123 species with 41 lizards, 3 salamanders, 10 turtles, 46 snakes, and 23 frogs and toads species.

Amphibians and reptiles in Colorado wildlife are 16 species of frog and toad, 1 species of salamander, 19 lizard species, 5 turtle species, and 26 snake species.

Amphibians and reptiles in Arizona wildlife are 24 frog species and 1 salamander species, and 107 species of reptiles.

The Gila monster and Mexican beaded lizard are two poisonous lizards found in North America, both of which are not found in Colorado.

Apart from the horns present on their head, this species have horns all over their body.

This species of horned lizards do not hunt for food. They sit still at a place and wait for their prey to cross them.

Instead of flattening their bodies when threatened, these spies puff their bodies to resemble rocks.

The Texas horny toad is the state's official lizard.

Roundtail horned lizards do not have a mid-dorsal stripe.

The adult short-horned lizard weighs half a quarter. They give birth to live young lizards.

The flat-tailed and regal horned lizards occupy the Sonoran desert. Texas horned lizards share their habitat with roundtail horned lizards in the Chihuahuan desert. The short-horned lizard is found in the Great Basin.

How did the roundtail horned lizard get its name?

This wildlife species have flat, short, round bodies with small heads; they are named roundtailed horned lizards for this reason. As all horned lizards are covered with scales that look like horns, they are given this common name.

What are horned lizards known for?

There are several things these lizards are known for. The color of their bodies camouflages well in any surroundings they live in. They are also known for squirting out blood which was first recorded in Otero County, Colorado. This is done when they are scared or feeling threatened by any predator. Mostly, it helps in scaring predators. They are also known for their squatting posture and spines on the back of their head.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these sand lizard facts and monitor lizard facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable roundtail horned lizard coloring pages.

Roundtail Horned Lizard Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Ants, beetles, termites

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?

6-19 eggs

How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?

rocky, desert, and sandy semiarid habitat with sparse vegetation

Where Do They Live?

north america, western texas, new mexico, eastern arizona, southeastern colorado, and north-central mexico

How Long Were They?

4.3 in (10.9 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Phrynosoma modestum

What Do They Look Like?

Gray, light brown, or pale yellow

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

humans, animals, and birds of prey

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

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