Friday, May 22, 2015

The Horny Toad – A Blood Shooting Horned Lizard




Photo Source: Public Domain Pictures  Texas Horned Lizard
 This unusual looking creature is commonly known as the “Horny Toad”, but is real name is horned lizard. He gets the name Horny Toad from the “horns” on the back of his head and his round squatty body and his short blunt nose, resembling a toad. The “horns” or spines on its back and sides, are not actually horns but modified scales. However, the horns on its head are actually horns being made up of a bony material and not scales.



Photo courtesy of 
Michael Elliott at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The horny toad has a couple of unusual and amazing features, not only does this lizard actually have real horns, but when threatened, he can “puff up” to appear much larger than he is, to hopefully scare off any predators with his ominous appearance. If that doesn’t work, most horned lizards can actually shoot a stream of blood out of the corner of their eyes! They can squirt this blood up to 3 to 5 feet in distance and their aim is exceptional! The aim for their predator’s eyes, trying to temporarily blind them, they will also aim for the mouth as the blood will leave a terrible taste in their mouth and hopefully the predator will decide to leave them alone.

The horny toad lives in desert climates if the US. There are approximately 15 different species of horned lizards in the US. The largest of these is the Texas horned lizard which is 3 to 6 inches long. They are normally found in arid regions such as Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana and parts of Mexico. In 1993, the Texas horned lizard was designated as the state reptile of Texas and it is actually illegal to capture, transport or keep a Texas horned lizard in the state of Texas and they have been declared a “threatened species”.





Photo courtesy of 
Michael Elliott at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The population of the Texas horned lizard has declined drastically over the last several decades. I can remember playing with them when I was a kid, but I rarely see one anymore. One reason for this decline is in the decline in the number of carpenter ants. Carpenter ants are a major staple food for horned lizards and the number of carpenter ants are on the decline as well. They will also eat other types of ants, bees, beetles, termites and other small insects.

The “Horney Toad” or horned lizard is definitely an unusual creature and are harmless to humans, however, if you see one, don’t try to take it home for a pet. Let it live on and multiply, I would have to see these wonderful reptiles disappear!




3 comments:

  1. I never knew that the horny toad was really a lizard, I guess you can teach an old dog a new trick or two, thank you.

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  2. Thesr are surprisingly easy to catch and very docile once caught. I have never had one squirt blood on me, and I picked up dozens when I lived in Albuquerque. My grandmother used to scold me that I would get Salmonella by handling them, apparently confusing them with the amphibian toad. She meant well. Great story.

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    1. They are quite tame, Mel. Many people keep them as pets. Grandma did have good intentions. Thank you for stopping by, my friend!

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