Visit our new website

Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Network - Réseau Canadien de 
Conservation des Amphibiens et des Reptiles

Phrynosoma douglasii
Pygmy Short-horned Lizard / Iguane pygmée à cornes courtes

Pygmy Short-horned Lizard
Until recently this species and the Short-horned Lizard were considered to be different subspecies of the Short-horned Lizard. Recently it has been discovered that the two groups are separate species. The Pygmy Short-horned Lizard is gray, yellowish, or reddish-brown. Males are smaller than females.

Confusing Species
A small lizard with a fringe of tiny horns around its sides, the Pygmy Short-horned Lizard was not easily confused with any other species in British Columbia.

The Pygmy Short-horned Lizard was only found in extreme southern British Columbia. It is still found in the US along the Pacific Northwest.

This lizard is associated with the mixed grass prairie. It is frequently found at the edge of habitat types, particularly coulee and canyon rims. South-facing slopes are favoured, likely to extend the short active season.

Unlike most lizards, the Pygmy Short-horned Lizard gives birth to its young, rather than laying eggs. Because of this, the mother can provide greater control over the temperature of the embryos. This likely allows this lizard to exist so far north.

Natural History
The Pygmy Short-horned Lizard eats mainly ants and other insects. Females are considerably larger than males, likely to allow room for their developing young. Males likely reach maturity after their first hibernation. Females likely require another year. Females can live for five years, or perhaps even longer.

Conservation Concerns
The Pygmy Short-horned Lizard has not been confirmed to be present in Canada since the late 1800s. It is officially considered extirpated from Canada by COSEWIC