Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Look What I Caught!

      It's really hard to match the excitement of actually holding a Texas Horned Lizard you caught yourself.  These are some of the coolest live hand pets a kid can experience.  Totally harmless, the misnamed "horny toad" is an incredibly interesting lizard.  While their populations are under threats in other states and on special lists of concern, the horny toad is still quite numerous in the Kansas Outback.  Preferring sandy or rocky soils with sparse cover, they  eat mainly ants.  They flatten and spread their bodies when approached by predators and humans.  Their cryptic camouflage makes them hard to see unless they move, which they don't very much.  Hawks will eat them as well as the Greater Roadrunner which is quite common in the Red Hills and other parts of southern Kansas.  

     Named for the sharp spikes around their head, the Texas Horned Lizard, will try to twist its head and neck to discourage holding.  They are fun to temporarily play with but are very hard to keep in captivity.  They will play dead when turned over and twitch to make it seem they are dying.  On rare occasions, they may squirt a drop of blood from their eyes.  This is not known to occur in the wild but has been observed by handling them.  In hand and flattened, their sides can be pushed up and down where they will "hold the pose."  Nothing in the cyber world can come close to matching the joy and amazement a kid can experience through a real life encounter with a horny toad!

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