Have You Seen One of These on a Montana Back Trail?

In travels across the state of Montana, whether it be roads or trails, you will undoubtably come across some sort of wild animal.  There is also an off chance that you may encounter a rare creature of the state.


Something along the lines of maybe a grizzly bear, moose, even a mountain lion.  There are also some of those creatures hidden in bushy, shale type areas.  Especially in the Eastern Montana areas.  And yes, their name is hilarious.

Once Abundant in Montana, They Are Now Considered in Need

The greater short horned lizard, or as the 8-year-old in me likes to refer to them, "horny toads", were once the second most abundant reptile in Montana according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP).  But now, they are considered a "Species of Greatest Inventory Need" due to insufficient data on their population and distribution.


Even though MWFP conducts studies on them, the creatures are very elusive.  Which is where recreationists across the state can help by reporting them when you see them in the wild.

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How To Spot the Greater Horned Toad in the Montana Outdoors

When looking, there are a few things that will help to identify them.  From the MFWP press release regarding the horny toad:

  • Adult greater short-horned lizards are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the warmer daylight hours.
  • Coloration is cryptic with the soil (blends in) and can vary by locality.
  • The broad, flattened body separates this lizard from the other three lizard species regularly documented in Montana, and the range overlaps only with the common sagebrush lizard, which is much more slender.
  • The head has a "heart-shaped" appearance when viewed from above.
  • They are usually easiest to spot when they move and catch your eye.

According to Nicole Hussey, FWP wildlife biologist in region 6, “If you happen to observe one anywhere in the state, please record the location, get GPS coordinates if possible, and note the date, number observed, and take a photo with something in the picture for scale if you can.”

Recreationists can then report their data to the following local FWP biologist within their region:

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