Growing up in West TX, these were as common as pick-up trucks and oil wells. We called them “Horny Toads”. Texas Christian University has them as their mascot and call them “Horned Frogs”. Neither name is technically correct, they are properly called Horned Lizards and they also serve as the official Texas State reptile.
In 1967, the Texas legislature passed laws prohibiting collection, exportation, and sale of Phrynosoma cornutum. Prior to this legislation, tens of thousands of Horned Toads were exported (dead and alive) from Texas every summer by tourists, would-be pet owners, and others, leading to the death of many a horned toad. Today, all Texas Horned Toad populations continue to decline.
In the wild, the main diet of the Texas Horned Toad is about 69 percent harvester ants, with the remainder mostly being a mixture of termites, beetles, grubs, and various insects.
They are fairly tame, slow and easily caught by young boys and old men (obviously, I caught this one this morning). Texas Horned Toads, when alarmed, may puff up and squirt blood out of the corner of the eye as a defense. How could a young boy not be attracted to any thing that might spit blood out it’s eyes. I can still hear my mom yelling the dreaded “JAMES LAWRENCE” when she found one in the pocket of my Billy the Kid jeans as she did her pre-laundry check of my clothes.
May you see at least one Horny Toad on your journey†††††nada te turbe††††††jim