Horned Toad Lizard Reptile & Velvet Ants.
Horned Toad Lizard.
It's sad to hear the horned lizards are now endangered. They are also called horny toad and are in the reptile family.
When we were kids and lived in California there was a field across the street from our home. The field was full of horny toads. I think the ones we had were called the Desert Horned Lizard, but there are Coast Horned Lizard so I'm not sure which we had.
We often searched for them. They buried their bodies in the sand. We played with them all the time. It was fun to see how many we could collect. We never kept them long and always let them go back in the field. We played in the field from morning till evening. It was a field between our house and my grandmother's house. On the end of the field was the Taylor farm. Nice couple who grew strawberries. I often went over to get some strawberries with a horned lizard in my hand. Mrs.Taylor always made me put my lizard down and wash my hands before she would give me strawberries.
All my Mom had to do was look out the window and she could see us. We built forts and made roads for the ants in our field.
We would have ant wars red ants against the black ants. Black ants were the good ants they didn't bite like the more aggressive red ants (Red harvester ant).
Horned Lizard is one of our nice little creatures they never bite but do squirt blood from their eyes when upset. They can puff up their bodies to twice their size and they have a chemical which makes dogs sick.
They lay ten to thirty eggs at a time by burying the eggs in the sand, like turtles do. The babies are the cutest little things. We were always so happy if we found a baby horned lizard. They're not easy to keep as pets because they need the ants to survive.
The field was full of red and black ants which the horny toad loved to eat. They do no harm and they eat insects, aren't they cute?
The field is gone now full of big houses. (I checked the field out on Google Earth) I guess it is why the horned lizards are dying off no place to eat and losing their habitats. All very big houses now and even on my grandmother's streets, they have turned those little flat top houses into big houses. Taylor Farm is gone. Our little house is still there next to large houses.
There are 14 species of spiny horny toads. They can live up to 8 years.
Here's a map from National Geographic it shows the range of Short-Horned Lizard-Toads. This map doesn't show the desert or coast horny toads, but it does give you an idea of the range of some horned lizard.
They do have their enemies other than humans. This is a Loggerhead Shrike with a horned lizard in its mouth. The Shrike is also losing its habitat.
We had horned toads in Texas also but not as many as we found in California.
I was one of those kids always had a jar in my hand for bugs, bees or anything I could find to put in it. I loved crawly things. I still love to look at bugs and any kind of wildlife, now I take pictures of them.
Houses Now, Field is Gone.
White Velvet Ant
Like I said horny toads ate the mean little red and white velvet ants (Cow Killers) were in the field but their main diet was harvester ants also called big red ants. We had plenty of the harvester ants in the field.The red and white velvet ants are also called dasymutilla gloriosa. They're actually not ants but wasps. I hated them when I was a kid. It hurt when they stung, aren't they ugly? We had all kinds of ants in the field and all kinds of creatures. I am very surprised we never ran into a rattlesnake. California is sure full of rattlesnakes.
Even though I didn't like the wasp I would hate to see them disappear and they are God's creatures.
It's sad to lose the animals we saw as kids, but I guess it's happening each day. Humans are the cause of the loss of so many of our wildlife. Housing areas move in and the ants are killed or moved out so then the horny toads have nothing to eat.
Blainville's Horned Lizard Facts.
Have You Ever Seen A Horned Toad
This is where we lived at the time we would catch the Horny Toads.
© 2008 moonlake