Horned lizards have some of the weirdest defence systems on the planet.
As we've recently had World Lizard Day, here's possibly the weirdest defence system in the animal kingdom.
On the menu of hawks, shrikes, roadrunners, snakes, coyotes, foxes, wolves, bobcats and even carnivorous grasshopper mice according to National Geographic, it's no wonder horned lizards need a detailed defence system to accompany their already impressive camouflage.
Their answer - a three pronged, predator specific defence system. Rattlesnakes are ambush predators, so if a horned lizard notices one (the little lizards are very adept at identifying snakes) and runs away, it's probably safe. If their attacker is a whip snake however (a very fast predator prone to chasing) or a bird, horned lizards will act a little weirder. They will stop and inflate their bodies as large as possible, sometimes flipping over and splaying their legs as wide as possible so they can't fit in their predator's mouth. Finally, if their predator is something very large which wouldn't have a problem fitting the little lizard in its mouth, like a coyote or a cat, the lizard will ramp up the weirdness and SQUIRT BLOOD OUT ITS EYES (yes, really). This defence has a profound impact on the would-be predator, which violently salivate and shakes its head for up to 15 minutes to be rid of the disgusting, chemical-rich blood. This is truly a last-defence system though, so if you spot one of these guys don't expect to see this bizarre defence in action unless you start trying to eat it!
Photography: @formerlyhomelessphotographer ⚘