Welcome to Phrynosoma.Org!

Last updated: 2/6/08

Phrynosoma.Org is a non-profit website dedicated to the husbandry, propagation, and conservation of horned lizards

Phrynosoma.Org is created and managed by a group of people who share an interest and fascination for the peculiar reptiles that make up the species Phrynosoma. This website offers the most comprehensive and authoritative information available for the care and propagation of these unique and fascinating lizards. This is made possible through the sharing of experiences and knowledge from this dedicated group of individuals.

This website contains Horned Lizard information, including: husbandry, photos, movies from those in the HL community, personal experiences, and links to other Horned Lizard sites. There isn't much argument that Phrynosoma (Horned Lizards) are a fascinating species, but they are certainly a challenge to keep, even for an experienced herper. HLs require more dedication and special attention than other reptiles commonly kept as pets.

The intent of this site is not to dissuade anyone from keeping a legally obtained horned lizard. Rather, the information and advice found here is offered in all good will as a minimum requirement for their proper care in captivity. Make no mistake, horned lizards are very difficult to care for, especially for the inexperienced.

Need Ants?

Check out www.Antsalive.Com Harvester ants for your horned lizards. At times there will be others in the HL community that offer live ants for your horned lizards. These offers may come and go, but AntsAlive has a good history of always being there. Keep in mind that horned lizards and ants hibernate in the winter. If you are determined not to hibernate your animals it's a good idea to order ants at least a week or even two in advance during the winter months.

New Phrynosoma.Org Community Forum!

Check out the Phrynosoma.org Community Forum for current happenings with horned lizard care, conservation, or husbandry. This is a great place to ask questions and see what other folks are doing to successfully keep and breed horned lizards.

Researching Laws and Regulations:

The Laws and Regulations, both local and federal, should be your first consideration when thinking of owning a Horned Lizard. Some species are completely protected, requiring special permits (usually for scientific study only), some only require a fishing or hunting license. Please visit the "Laws and Regs" link for more detailed Information, or google by your home state for local Fish & Game regulations.

Before deciding on a Horned Lizard as a pet:

If you are determined to keep a Horned Lizard, you should first read everything you can about them. Understanding their special needs is paramount to successful keeping. Horned Lizard husbandry is truly a commitment above and beyond that of most other herps. It takes a dedicated individual to ensure they have adequate care. There are several books and field guides that have been published that will also provide some natural history and limited husbandy information. You will find helpful and valuable information on each of our "HL Care" pages. See the links at top.

The warnings on these pages may seem a bit harsh, but horned lizards ARE difficult pets. Unlike other reptiles you might find at the local pet shop, these lizards will die if not given proper care.

Things to consider:

Have you done your research? Have you read the available, published information to feel you know the true commitment required in keeping Horned Lizards?
Do you have the space, time,and money necessary to take care of an Horned Lizard properly? Financial costs to keep a healthy HL can be high. This includes buying, or building an adequately-sized enclosure for the Horned Lizard, electricity bills from their heat lamps, continually ordering ants if you can't catch your own, potential vet visits, etcetera.
Are you looking for a pet to hold, or to take outside to play with your friends? Horned lizards are not good social pets. They should be handled as little as possible. Handling them is stressful, even though they appear relaxed, and stress in horned lizards means health problems.
Do you know the specific ant species your HL needs to survive & thrive on? Horned Lizards do not eat the fireants found near many homes in many western states. The type of ants they eat will depend on the species of Horned Lizard you have. Most species eat the native harvester ants, which usually carry a pretty potent sting.
Will you have the time and means (and location) to catch your own supply of ants (spending up to one hour per day collecting outside), or can you afford to order the ants that you will need? One HL alone may eat anywhere from 30 to 300 ants a day depending on its species, size, the temperature, and time of year.

Issues of special concern:

As opposed to the more commonly kept reptiles, such as Bearded Dragons or Green Iguanas, Horned Lizards stand in contrast as an incredibly fragile species who stress easily. Conditions other reptiles may be able to function or do moderately well under may not be conducive to healthy HLs. Most HLs cannot tolerate human traffic or loud noise near their enclosure. While they are known for their gentle nature, they are not very "outgoing" as pets, and are typically shy; preferring time spent with either their own kind, or to themselves in the safety, space, and quiet of their enclosure.

In general, Horned Lizards do not like to be handled much, if at all. Whereas most reptiles will run when frightened, horned lizards tend to hunker down and stay still. This is often mistaken for a relaxed calm in the animal, when it is actually a conditioned response to a perceived threat. Handling horned lizards is a cause of stress, which always has negative effects on their health. Once stressed, HLs may become "anorexic", and refuse food altogether, ultimately leading to a slow death from starvation.

If you are still feeling comfortable with the thought of Horned Lizard husbandry after reading this page, you may be ready to make the commitment. In either case, we encourage you to join the forum and check back often, as our site is continually updated. Thank you for visiting, and Good Luck! Don't forget to sign our GuestBook!

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