It's pretty easy to see how the short-horned lizard got its name, but these spiky reptiles have more in their defence arsenal than a bit of body armour: when threatened, they can shoot blood out of their eyes

Also known as "horny toads" because of their flattened shape, short-horned lizards (Phrynosoma douglassi) employ the blood-shooting only as a last-ditch effort. The salvo comes from ducts located near the eyes, and it's blood with a bonus: in addition to the usual components, research shows the foul-tasting fluid also contains chemicals that cause gastric distress in some animals (and that's something members of the genus who don't shoot blood can't boast about).

All that said, blood-squirting is a last resort, and the reptiles very rarely squirt humans. Horned lizards more commonly turn to a different tactic to scare off would-be predators like hawks, coyotes and snakes: looking large and in charge. The lizards can nearly double in size by inflating their bodies


Top header image: Steve Berardi/Flickr