Horny toads coming back?

The Way I See It

 

 

I was reading an article the other day about how horny toads (horned lizards/frogs) are becoming more noticeable again in the Texas landscape. They have been bred and released by several zoos and it seems to be helping their population.

When I was a kid, we would take our spoons and wouldn’t have to dig very deep in our sandy soil to unearth the mini-triceratops to play with all afternoon. Warnings of them “spitting blood from their eyes” were always given, but I never witnessed their defense mechanism. This is a real thing that either scares their predators or deters them from being eaten because of the foul smell and taste.

A bit of interesting information about Texas’ official state reptile … it was named so due to the efforts of two young boys from Pleasanton, Noah and Abraham Holland. They were members of the Horned Lizard Conservation Society and contacted our then State Representative Richard Raymond. On June 18, 1993, Governor Ann Richards signed House Concurrent Resolution 141 and the rest is history. The brothers also wore costumes and shared their knowledge all over the state and were pegged as the Traveling Toads. I love reading the fancy wording of these type of bills, so I’m sharing them here:

H.C.R. No. 141

HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, The State of Texas traditionally has recognized certain natural life forms commonly found within the state as tangible representations of both the state’s proud spirit and its vast and diverse natural heritage by proclaiming them official state symbols; and

WHEREAS, The Texas horned lizard, Phrynosoma cornutum, is well known and much loved by its human neighbors in the hot, arid regions where it makes its home; and

WHEREAS, Known variously as a horned toad, horny toad, and horned frog, this fascinating creature nevertheless is a true lizard, a member of the reptile suborder Lacertilia, with a lineage that has been traced back to the days of the dinosaurs; and

WHEREAS, The horned lizard possesses numerous attributes that qualify it for designation as an official representative of our state; despite a spiny exterior that presents a forbidding appearance, it is at heart a docile and peaceful creature; and

WHEREAS, A skilled hunter, the horned lizard helps to diminish the population of a variety of insect pests; although it prefers a diet of ants, it also will eat grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, pill bugs, and spiders; and

WHEREAS, Its protective coloration and resourcefulness enable it to escape detection by predators, but when threatened it is able to inflate its body to frighten its adversaries; an dWHEREAS, Although these characteristics distinguish the horned lizard as a fitting embodiment of our state and its heritage, it is perhaps most appropriate for designation as an official state symbol because, like many other things truly Texan, it is a threatened species; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the 73rd Legislature of the State of Texas hereby recognize the Texas horned lizard as an appropriate representative of our state; and, be it further

RESOLVED, That the Texas horned lizard be officially designated the State Reptile of Texas.

The way I see it, thanks to two young boys 26 years ago, Texas has a true and fitting state reptile. Now … where’s my spoon and shoebox?

SUE BROWN is a columnist of the Pleasanton Express. Contact her at psuebrown@gmail.com.

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