Skip to comments.Texas Icon: A body covered with horns and the ability to shoot blood from their eyes
Posted on 02/02/2014 6:17:04 PM PST by patriot08
With a body covered in horns, resembling some prehistoric creature- and the demon-like ability to squirt blood from his eyes, the mere sight of the Texas horned lizard is enough to send most screaming and running in the opposite direction should they encounter him.
But most older Texans know his fierce appearance is all for show just to scare off predators. As children they used to catch and play with the lizards, for he is a gentle little creature who never bites and will go to sleep in your hand if you roll him over and rub his tummy.
This docile little creature is the state reptile of Texas and, as the "horned frog", is the mascot of Texas Christian University.
The Texas horned lizard is the largest and most abundant of the approximately 14 species of horned lizards in the western United States and Mexico. They can reach a length of 4-6 inches.
The lizards colors camouflage it against predators, and it can also puff itself up and protrude its many small body thorns making it difficult to swallow.
The Texas horned lizard also has the ability to squirt a stream of blood from its eyes for up to 5 feet. This not only frightens and confuses predators, but has a bad taste when predators such as wolves and coyotes try to eat it.
There has been a serious decline in the number of the lizards in recent years and it is illegal to take, possess, transport or sell them without a special permit. The decline is thought to be the result of overuse of pesticides and invading fire ants which destroy the harvester ants the lizards feed on.
Want to help protect these docile little creatures?
Texas Horned Lizard Watch: Horned Lizard Facts
When I was in high school, I was goofing off in speech class when the teacher, in an attempt to embarrass me, put me in front of the class and told me to give a speech on the sex life of the horny toad. It just so happened that I had a horned toad as a pet, and had read all about them. I gave an impromptu lecture on the little creatures and astonished the teacher.
Years ago my dad told the fellows on the railroad in Oregon about these like fellows. They didn’t believe him. Next trip to Columbus, NM we caught some and tried to take them back to Oregon. They died before we got home.
They seem to be disappearing like the lightning bug.
When I was a boy both species were everywhere in Texas, but you can go a whole summer now and not see one.
Used to see horny toads all the time; can’t remember the last time I saw one.
I played them all the time as a kid...
An uncle showed us that they would even puff on cigarettes when one was inserted in their mouth. Of course this was in the 1960’s when smoking was cool.
LOL, good job and good story. They do sound like sweet little things.
LOL Very cute story
Ha! Love these little guys. I always had “Horny Toads” as a little kid in West Texas. Haven’t seen a single one in San Antonio in all these years. One of my boyfriends gave me a bronze one (paperweight) from James Avery in the 80s. I still have it. It lives in my kitchen window, “sunning” itself.
Thanks for the link! They are a Texas treasure.
How good do they taste, stir-fried?
The decline of the big red ants has almost wiped them out.
If any show back up on the property here, they will be treated like royalty.
Sadly they cannot take the humidity. Dad was in the service, and I had the sweetest little fella named Jose when I was a kid in Albuquerque. When dad got transferred, Jose didn’t make the trip across to Florida : / Broke my heart - he was such a sweetie. Fed him meal worms, and yes - they love to be petted gently.
Still miss that little guy.
May God keep watch.
That’s a wookie, not a lizard.
Love this story:)
I found one of these in Phoenix once. I let him go after I looked at him a bit, he was cute.
But we did used to see these guys about here and not anymore. Sad.
I’ve read that they have to have a very specific diet and sunlight. They are very very hard to raise.
Years ago, (up until the 80’s I believe) they were rounded up and sold as pets by the thousands because they were so cute and docile.
I remember my mother telling me when she was a child that there was a lady who paid children something like 2 or 3 cents apiece for every lizard- which she shipped off somewhere to pet stores.
I’m sure this didn’t help the lizard population.
I know. Lighting bugs are just no more. Don’t know when the last time I saw one. Shame.
We used to collect them in bottles at night and play with them. Flashlights. :)
Nods. My husband got me a little cast iron one after hearing about my little guy. See my post above. Jose was an amazing little fella. I hate to think that they are passing from us. I sure hope they are just regrouping somewhere : /
May God keep watch.
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