Natural History

Top 10 Craziest Animal Lifestyles in North America

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Horned Lizard
Joe McDonald/Corbis

5. Horned Lizards

Horned lizards really don’t want to fight.

They’re not very good at it, so they go to great lengths to avoid confrontation.

First, their coloration generally serves as camouflage so they try not to be seen.

If they are threatened, their first defense is to remain still to avoid detection. If that fails, they’ll run in short bursts and stop abruptly to confuse the predator.

When befuddlement doesn’t work, they puff up their bodies to cause them to appear more horned and larger, so more difficult to swallow.

But they’re next trick is what puts the horned lizard in our Bizarre Behavior Hall of Fame.

After all passive resistance has proven unsuccessful, they go on the offensive in a big way …

… by squirting a stream of blood from the corners of their eyes for a distance of up to five feet!

This not only confuses the aggressor, but the blood tastes foul to canine and feline predators.

So very few predators wind up messing with them.

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