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Reptiles/Horned toad care


My name is Everett I am only 11 years old. I recently caught a baby horned toad and he has been doing very well. I do have about 4 years of experience with reptiles and my closest friends dad is an experienced reptile biology teacher but I would like you to give me some kind of idea about care. Thank you

Well, first off, I'm going to need to identify it's species and know what part of California you are in, so you need to email me photos of it to or to

Most species of horned lizard are protected in California, and it would be illegal to collect those species, and in fact illegal to collect any species, even if they are not protected, if you don't have a hunting permit.

My opinion is that 4 years of experience is not sufficient experience to keep a baby horned lizard alive, even if it's not a protected species. Babies are extremely fragile and easily killed, and it was either just about to go into hibernation, or was disturbed in taking it into captivity now is a great risk to it. I have 25 years experience with many types of lizards and venomous snakes. Horned lizards are the most difficult reptile that I keep, and I wouldn't even keep them if I wasn't a wildlife rescuer and rehabilitator and it wasn't part of the job to take them from other people who capture them and then they get sick. I recommend you release it in the exact same habitat that you found it in. Any biology teacher who has a conservation bone in their body and knows what this lizard is, should tell you the same. I would still like to see a picture for ID though.  

“Horned lizards are among the most difficult lizards to keep in captivity because they have specialized dietary and thermal requirements, and they are susceptible to disease.”
Dr. Richard Montanucci, author “Maintenance and Propagation of Horned Lizards in Captivity”

"Unfortunately these lizards are frequently collected from the wild for pets. They usually die in captivity because of a lack of proper husbandry. This is an incredibly delicate lizard, subject to stresses which include handling."
David Cooper, North Carolina Herpetological Society

"I cannot recommend horned lizards to anyone but the most experienced and serious herpetoculturist. Even then, these lizards are so demanding that it would be necessary to limit the collection to one or two species, and to forego a miscellaneous assortment of other reptiles."
Montanucci, ibid  


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YOU WILL GET A REJECTION OF YOUR QUESTION IF YOU FAIL TO FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS TO QUESTIONER IN FULL!. I am primarily here to assist with health concerns. I am here for the more difficult questions. Not for questions that you could research & easily find the answer yourself. My standards are that you provide DETAILED and RELEVANT background history on your pet before you ask me any question about it other than GENDER or ID. The requested information is in the instructions to questioner. Failure to answer each of those questions to provide that background, will result in your question being rejected. I can answer questions related reptile husbandry, identification (esp. in Texas and the SW), legal aspects, and advanced level medical care. I am the director of Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue (TX), a wildlife rehabilitator specializing in reptiles, a founding member of The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation, a subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service,, educational content contributor to, and a Dept of State Health Services accredited animal control instructor (CE) for reptile handling. I do most of my own veterinary care in-house, including minor surgery and necropsy. I am most experienced in Chelonia with box turtles and common smaller tortoises; and in Squamata with everything from Anoles, Geckos, Beardies, and Monitors, to venomous snakes. I am most known for my expertise with horned lizards (Phrynosoma). With snakes, my primary expertise is in Crotalids (rattlesnakes), but I can answer a broad range of questions about various species. I am not aware of any reptile related question that I would not be able to provide some reasonable answer for. I have a direct style and may tell you something you did not want to hear; but the welfare of the animal comes FIRST with me, and I will always reflect that position in my answer, despite how it might make you feel.


I am a non-academic herpetologist with 25+ years reptile experience, and I am an accredited Texas Dept of State Health Services Animal Control Instructor for Reptiles (CE). I am a reptile rescuer, reptile wildlife rehabilitator, and subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service, wikivet, and article/journal content contributor to Lafebervet. I have medical and scientific resources available, and I perform in house reptile veterinary care for my rescues. I am not a vet, but I read from the same materials and have had to correct quite a few in the past. The average vet is not well versed with reptile physiology and medical treatments.

Animals that I am currently caring for, or have significant rehabilitation and husbandry experience with: Horned Lizards (5 species); Eastern and Western Box Turtles; Painted, RES, YBS, Soft-Shell, and Cooter aquatic turtles; Russian Tortoises; Fire Bellied Toads; Fire Bellied Newts; Ornate Horned Frogs; Green Iguanas; Desert Iguanas; Spiny Lizards; Long Nosed Leopard Lizards; Anoles; Racerunners; Collared Lizards; Bullsnakes; Eastern Ratsnakes; Great Plains Ratsnakes; Kingsnakes; Gartersnakes; Cornsnakes; Boas; Pythons; Bearded Dragons; Water Dragons; Massasauga Rattlesnakes; Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes; Leopard, Mediterranean, Golden, Indo-Pacific, African White-Spotted Geckos; Savannah Monitors; Jeweled Curly-Tailed Lizards; Long-Tailed Grass Lizards; Fox Squirrels; Deer Mice; Hispid Cotton Rats; Merriam's Pocket Mice; Eastern Cotton-Tails; Blue Bar racing pigeon; Budgies; Asian Forest Scorpions.


Co-Founder & Director: Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue

Founder: The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation

Publications contributor. The Horned Lizard Husbandry Manual - self published 75 pages of care information on genus Phrynosoma.

Wikipedia entry "Horned Lizards" - contributed to a majority of the content., and various reptile related forums and email lists under the handles "fireside3" and PhrynosomaTexas".

My hands-on field, rehabilitation, and captive husbandry experience beats a PhD any day of the week. I am also a state accredited animal control instructor for reptile handling.

Past/Present Clients

I was requested to provide my care manual on the Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), for the Montreal zoo. My manual is also used by several other zoological institutions in N. America. I also teach reptile education to summer camps, and instruct wildlife rehabilitators on live saving and rehab techniques with reptiles.

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