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Debbie Ekhaml took these close-ups of a horned lizard (also known as a horned toad) in East County. 

Resembling a miniature dinosaur, the horned lizard has an impressive array of protective features ranging from camouflage to spiked horns to an ability to puff itself up and even squirt blood at an attacker.

The reptile’s coloring enables it to blend in with its background; horned lizards can even change color slightly for better camouflage. Horned lizards sometimes also partially bury themselves to hide in loose soil.

When threatened, the spiked reptile inflates itself with air, making it larger and harder for prey to swallow. It also makes a hissing noise to intimidate predators.

If threatened and grabbed, it will bite and move the head from side to side to jab with its horns.

As a last resort, it will spray the intruder with blood from the corners of its eyes.


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