The Texas horned lizard also called the horny toad or horned frog, is in decline in most of the state of Texas except West Texas, according to Russell Martin, a wildlife biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. West Texas is where there are large oil and gas exploration fields, and where the fight over the proposed endangered species listing of the Dunes Sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) occurred over the last few years. That lizard was not put on the endangered species list.
According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the lizard is doing fairly well in areas of West Texas, but is in decline in Central and East Texas. Martin attributes the decline to urbanization and the drop in harvester ant populations, the main food source for the lizard. The use of pesticides on invasive fire ants has contributed to the drop in harvester ants.
In addition to Texas, the lizard can also be found in southwestern Missouri, Kansas, much of the Southwestern United States and Mexico. It is against the law in Texas to kill the horned lizard or to collect it and keep it as a pet. While horned lizards are probably the coolest looking reptiles in North America, unless you have a steady supply of harvester ants (these lizards eat thousands of ants everyday) they are virtually impossible to keep.
John B. Virata keeps a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata
4- What is a Horned Lizard?
courtesy to : www.hornedlizards.org/horned-lizards.html
Horned lizards are called horny toads but really are not frogs or toads. They are reptiles - lizards. Like all reptiles, horned lizards depend primarily on their environment to control their body temperature - and they like it HOT! Most horned lizards live in desert or semi-arid environments. They are often seen basking in the morning sun on a summer day. Even so, they are susceptible to overheating, so as the day gets warmer, the lizards move into the shade and may even go into burrows to stay cool in the long summer afternoons.
Horned lizards have many characteristics which distinguish them from other lizards. The most obvious characteristic is their body shape. They lack the sleek, tubular body shape of most lizards. Instead, they have a wide, flattened form which is well adapted for camouflage and their burrowing habits. Horned lizards are noticeably spiny, with a crown of horns adorning the back of their heads and various spines on their bodies.
Horned lizards prefer to eat ants, but they will also eat many other types of invertebrates, such as grasshoppers, beetles and spiders, to supplement their diet. Usually, they search for prey in open areas, moving quietly searching or waiting for an unsuspecting ant or other food item to come into view. When a prey animal passes by, the lizard quickly snaps it up with a flick of its tongue and swallows it whole.
Horned lizards' foraging behavior puts them in danger of being eaten themselves. They are preyed upon by hawks, roadrunners, snakes, lizards, coyotes, ground squirrels, mice, cats and dogs. Horned lizards attempt to avoid predators by using various tactics, some of which are quite unique. Their most unusual tactic is the ability to squirt a stream of blood from the corner of their eyes. This stream may be directed with limited accuracy at the predator's eyes and mouth and is probably a last resort.
Another behavior horned lizards exhibit is the ability to inflate their bodies until they look like spiny balloons. However, they most effectively avoid predators by simply holding still. Horned lizards' color patterns closely match the soil on which they live and they can eliminate their shadows by flattening against the ground. If forced to move, a horned lizard runs only a short distance, stopping unexpectedly. The horned lizard lies flat, blending into its surroundings, and the predator is left chasing nothing.
Thirteen species of horned lizards are recognized in North America. They occur from southern Canada to Guatemala. Seven species reproduce by laying eggs (oviparous) and six species give birth to live young (viviparous). Horned lizards live in a variety of arid and semi-arid environments from oak-pine woodland to thorn scrub deserts.
Populations of the Texas Horned Lizard have disappeared in East and Central Texas, and are decreasing in North Texas as well. A decline and disappearance of them in Oklahoma and New Mexico has been noted. Other species of horned lizards throughout the Southwest are also in trouble including the San Diego Coast Horned Lizard and the Flat-tailed Horned Lizard. The primary cause for population decline is the loss of habitat by agricultural and urban conversion. Other causes also have lead to declining populations including overharvesting for the pet trade and curio trade and the invasion of exotic species, particularly exotic ants which the lizards can not survive on and outcompete their preferred ant.
In Texas, both the Texas and Mountain Short-horned lizards are state listed as Protected: which means it is illegal for anyone to take, possess, transport or sell them without a special permit. Not only is it illegal to keep horned lizards, but they are difficult to care for in captivity, and most captured ones eventually die from improper care.
Horned Lizards are wonderful, unique lizards that share our lives and heritage. Many of us played with them growing up because we could actually catch them - but we also let them go back to their home in the soil and sand. Our lives and childhoods are indebted to these lizards for allowing us to share with nature and learn from it. We hope they'll persist with us beyond the next millenium.
5- A Basic Horny Toad Care Sheet
courtesy to : hornytoad.freeservers.com/
By Matt Kot
I am putting this here after a exhausting search through Kingsnake.com i have come across a basic care sheet posted back in 2000 I have sent an email to the original poster and hoping to hear back from him shortly, but for now i will post his care sheet here.
New News I have recieved the OK from the original poster to put his care sheet on this site.
Here is the Message Board Post Complete
I just found this forum and spent the last two hours reading all the messages as far back as possible. I've been impressed with the amount of infomation available and I thought I'd share my experiences with a pair of Desert Horned Lizards I kept for over 8 years. They proved to be fascinating captives and I'm hoping my experience will benefit those with husbandry questions as well as providing some of the more experienced keepers with my breeding stories.
In the spring of 1991 a friend of mine returned from a dove hunting trip near Las Vegas with a pair of small (1.5" and 2" total length) desert horned lizards. I was a biology major and he knew of my interest in lizards and thought I'd want to keep them.
I set them up in a 60 gallon aquarium. The bottom two inches was covered with aquarium pea gravel. I then filled water to a level even with the top of the gravel. Over that I added silica sand (available from any garden/yard store)to a depth of about 4". Due to capillary action, the silica sand wicked water up and maintained a moist level of about 2" or so above the gravel. The top 2" remained dry. I guessed that since the Las Vegas area was subject to periodic monsoonal precipitation that they would require some sort of humidity. The cage was planted with several stalks of a succulent jade plant that grew in the yard just to add some color.
Light and Heating
The top of the tank was covered with a combination UV and incandescent hood. I think Zoo-Med makes something like this now. I used two Vita-Lights for UV and two 125 Watt spotlights pointed down at the substrate. A flat piece of shale was placed under one of the spotlights to provide a basking surface. The light fixture covered about 3 feet of the 4 foot long cage. The other portion was left open and consituted the "cool" end.
The surface of the basking rock would get to about 105 degrees with an air temp of about 95 at the hot end and 85 at the cool end.
Timers were set to turn on the heatlights for about 8 hrs a day in the spring,summer, and fall (10am-6 pm). The vitalights were set to a 12 hour cycle during those months and came on at 8 am. The terrarium was placed on a work bench next to window in the garage of my home in Coastal Southern California. It seemed like this was the best way to give a natural light cycle. Early morning sunlight would hit about 6 am or so. Then the vitalights swithced on at 8 am followed by the spotlights at 10. They switched off in reverse order starting at 6 and 8 pm.
This seems to be the most discussed subject so I'll put in my two cents worth. What can I say? ANTS, ANTS, ANTS! I lived in Laguna Beach at the time and had easy access to colonies of Harvester Ants very close nearby. From day one, the two would lap them up one after another. Clearly these animals were designed to eat ants so that's what I fed them for the first year or so. I also found that they loved one week old crickets as an addition to the ants. I dusted the crickets with a vitamin mixture, I think it was reptivite if I remember right. Clearly, the ants were a hassle but they did so well the first couple of years I didn't' want to mess with it. I only wish I could have mail ordered them like you can today. I think the most critical component was that they be fed EVERY DAY. I noticed that if I went away for a week or so that they would show a noticeable loss of weight. I can't emphasize enough, feed often and feed ants. The second year I discovered they loved waxworms as well so I alternated those three (ants, small crickets, waxworms) and they always ate. I've noticed some discussion about mealworms in the forum. While they would eat them, I noticed that my Eastern Collared lizards often regurgitated when fed mealworms (excessive chitin?) so I never really offered them to the horned lizards.
Twice a week I would spray the basking rock with a plant mister and they would usually drink from the small pools that formed. I never used a tray of standing water for whatever it's worth.
Now to the good part! There has been much talk about hibernation so here is the long version of my results. About October 1st or so I would reduce the spotlights to a cycle of only four hours a day between 10 am and 2 pm. I changed the timer on the vitalights to a ten hour cycle so that they turned off at 6 pm rather than 8.
About November 1st, I quit feeding altogether and on about the 7th I turned off the spotlights altogether and left the vitalights alone. The temperature would only rise to about 75 at this point. The lizards spent most of the day submerged in the sandy substrate by now. At the beginning of December I turned off the vitalights as well.
At this point the cage would only receive indirect light through the garage window and the ambient temperature was that of the surroundings. Typically it was in the mid-60's in the day, and the upper 40's and low 50's at night. The lizards rarely if ever emerged during the winter.
About mid-March I'd reverse the cycle starting with the vitalights on for a ten hour cycle, then two weeks later the heat lights for four hours. The lizards would usually emerge within a day or two of the heat lights coming back on in early April. I would then resume the feeding and watering schedule. THEY ATE LIKE PIGS! By Mid April I had the lights back on the original schedule until changeover again the following fall.
What we've all been waiting for. The cycling wasn't really an attempt to breed them it just took the pressure off feeding them for about four months and seemed like that's what would have occured in nature so that's what I should do. Nothing happened the first two years but the third spring everthing changed.
That third spring one of them had identifiable hemi-penal bulges and was clearly a male. He started head bobbing that spring and pursuing the female around the cage. Clearly this pair was ready to breed. They both ate ravenously during this time and by mid May I began to see noticeable bulges of eggs in the female. I dusted the crickets every day to hopefully avoid egg binding. Like bearded dragons usually did, she suddenly quit eating. I place a broken half of a clay pipe on the cool side of the cage and lightly misted the sand underneath the create a moist laying spot. Right about early June I came in and female looked like she shrunk in half. Sure enough under the crock pipe were 12 eggs! The female ate everything in the cage the next two weeks and was watered every day and put most of the weight back on within a couple of weeks. The male continued to head bob but she didn't get gravid again.
I treated the eggs like bearded dragons. I moistened vermiculite and then using my hands squeezed all the water out of it I possibly could. I know it's not scientific with respect to water:vermiculite ratios but it had worked for the beardeds. I placed the eggs in deli cups with a couple small holes punched in the side and placed the COVERED cups in an incubator set at 82 degrees. I had used a fish tank heater to heat water in a covered aquarium to that temperature and then set the cups on top of bricks within the sealed aquarium to create the incubator. It worked great but I'm sure any type of reptile incubator would work equally as well. The eggs began to grow and finally about two months later all twelve hatched! They were about an inch and a quarter long.
Raising the little ones
I set them all up like the parents but used smaller wattage light bulbs as it seemed like the other lights would be too hot and dry them out. I started them on pinhead crickets as the pinchers on the ants looked awfully big in comparison. After about a week I started adding ants as I didn't want them to imprint on the crickets. They had no problem eating them so I cut out the crickets. After that I treated them like the adults including the hibernation schedule. They all emerged okay in the spring.
In that spring I knew I could never catch enough ants for 14 lizards so I took the babies (now about 2") to the area where the parents were caught and released them. It seemed like the right thing to do considering the amount of work involved in keeping the adults. I figured I only had to feed them for two months or so after they hatched and another month after hibernation before releasing them to give them a good head start. It was pretty cool to watch them scamper away. I released them next to an ant colony and they almost always ate right away.
My intention wasn't really to breed these guys but it worked out pretty cool. The parents bred every year after that for four more years. The last clutch was about 22 eggs or so and the hatch rate was about 90% for the five clutches. The spring of the 8th year I had to move and I finally released the adults in the same locale as where they were caught (and their babies were released). I would have like to keep them longer but I couldn't keep them in any sort of the same setup any longer and I couldn't bear the thought of them wasting away without the ants.
I hope this answers a lot of the questions so many of you have. They were awesome animals but I'm convinced they are best left alone in the wild. Nothing is so cool as a hike in the spring time when you can find one of the little guys. I think I was really lucky in my experience. My feeling is that the ants were critical to their health even though they would eat other insects. Their digestive tracts are probably set up to digest numerous small meals with relatively large surfact to volume ratios and things like large crickets just don't digest well. If you've ever fed small bearded dragons large crickets and watch them decline you'll know what I'm talking about.
As far as the breeding goes, I think the light and temperature cycling was the crucial component. Additionally, although they were in a terrarium there was no lid so air flow was pretty fresh.
Again I hope this will help those who already have these lizards to keep them successfully and those who are experienced with them to perhaps realized some breeding success. I could shoot myself in the head now for not taking pictures because the little ones looked pretty cool and the parents were pretty as well. Any questions please shoot me an e-mail. Better yet, just post a reply and I'll be sure to keep an eye out in the forum.
6- Texas Horned Lizard in Decline
July 15, 2014
BY JOHN VIRATA
Think twice before keeping a Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) or any other horned lizard for that matter because not only are they virtually impossible to keep as a pet, it is illegal in the state of Texas to do so.
Further reading :
-Horned Lizards (Revised Edition) (Grover E. Murray Studies in the American Southwest) Paperback – December 15, 2002
by Jane Manaster (Author)
by Wade C. Sherbrooke (Author)
by Cari Meister (Author)
-Reptiles Magazine January 2004 Breeding Green Anacondas, Horned Lizard Handbook and More Single Issue Magazine – 2004
by Reptiles Magazine (Author)
Many books you can find in the Internet based libraries and bookshops like Amazon.com ( Click Here ) ..
But first look for the best prices at Book Finder.com
Happy little diggers.
Even in a shallow substrate, horned lizards attempt to hide.
As long as you're avoiding horned toads, make sure you avoid the little guys.
As soon as you open their cage door, these guys try to escape.
This must be a different species because they scuttle incredibly fast.
Last Words. Horned lizards look nothing like toads. Maybe the same color but certainly not the same shape. You never see a tail on a toad. Anyway, we think only lizard specialists should keep horned lizards. But they are cute. LA.
3- Keeping Horny Toads (Really Horned Lizards)
Phrynosoma -- Not for Most People
courtesy to : aqualandpetsplus.com/Lizard,%20Horned%20Toad.htm
Cute little guys. If scared he'd squirt blood out of his eyes
For Starters. We thought these guys were on the endangered list, but they seem to be showing up lately. We assume you know they like ants. Unfortunately, they want harvester ants (whatever those are). They (over a dozen species of these odd little critters) come from our southwest states and shoot blood from their eyes when threatened.
Basking in the light
Typical Lizards. Horned lizards need extra warmth and places to hide. They blend into rocky surfaces. They flatten out and crawl under rocks when threatened. Supposedly, their horns make them look more frightening and scare off potential predators. They are for sure not fighters. They barely wiggle when you pick them up. But they scuttle right off when you put them back down. They can move. They just prefer not to.
Not at all argumentative
Community Guys. Horned lizards get along fine with each other. If you mix them with other species, these guys hang back at feeding time. In the wild, they sit atop an ant hill and wait for their food to be delivered. Other lizards will eat all their food, so keep them separate from other lizards.
Not afraid of people
Friendly? Not really friendly, these guys put up with you. They do not like you. They do not recognize you. They do not know where their food comes from. They just sit there waiting for it to be delivered. Get with the program. They never tip.
Typical tails up posture
Attitude. Most lizards with their tails in the air are ready to bust a gut to get out of there. Horned lizards are just waiting for their food to be delivered.
Trying to see those horns
Food. Horned lizards prefer harvester ants. They will eat crickets -- a food that walks right up to them. Add a vitamin/calcium supplement of course. Try some of our local ants if you can find an ant hill. (Check out my front sidewalk.)
Three lizards in this picture
Substrate. Horned lizards dig. The ground walnut shells in the picture above let them dig away to their hearts content. Zach likes this substrate better because it costs more than sand.
Mick, Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue, TX, February 6, 2008
One point I would like to make in regards to the information that you do have up, is that ground walnut shell should not be used as a substrate for these lizards. It is an impaction hazard. I worry that a novice with a newly bought Horned Lizard might see this and go buy ground walnut or something worse. Most of us in the Horned Lizard "community" recommend play box sand from Home Depot or the like, which is closer
to what they live in out in the wild; they are also adapted to manage ingestion of small amounts of sand better. Thank you for your time and consideration.
A: We stopped carrying the ground walnut shells shortly after I wrote the bulk of this page -- about four years ago. Did you ever read the waning on the play box sand bags? LA
The Horned Lizard, or Horned Toad as they are sometimes called, is a fierce looking desert dweller equipped with sharp spines on its body and pointed horns on top of its head. Oddly, they are in fact very passive with a willingness to bypass trouble. When they feel threatened they have the ability to spray blood from the corners of their eyes.
The Horned lizards can be found in the U.S.A., Canada, and Mexico. There are about 13 species of Horned Lizards, the most common being the Texas Horned Lizard, and the Round-tailed Horned Lizard. An adult Horned Lizard can range for 3' - 5'. They are diurnal, active during the daytime, so when being kept as a pet, will require proper UVB lighting. For a single Horned Lizard you will need a minimum 40 gal. vivarium. Sand makes the best substrate. Horned lizards like to dig in the sand so it needs to be around 4" deep. Their cage does not need to be very tall, as they are not much for clmbing. There should be various sized rocks, with the basking light directed to one for them to bask on. Their basking temperatures should be between 100.4 - 109.4 degrees. They should have a cool end to thermoregulate and those temps. should be between 84 - 95 degrees. Their nightime temps. should range from around 64 - 75 degrees. They come from dry arid regions so you will need to keep their humidity around 30 - 40 %.
The Horned Lizard is insectivorous, eating mainly harvester ants. This diet is difficult for most owners to reproduce, because one lizard may eat thousands of ants per day. Harvester ant venom contains formic acid and other proteins which provide proper gastrointestinal pH. This acidity promotes proper gastrointestinal flora and protects the lizard from intestinal parasites. The ant venom in the stomach also produces a small amount of water as a by-product, which helps hydrate the Horned Lizard. The Horned Lizard can also occasionally be fed pin-head crickets, mini mealworms, and flightless fruit flies. They also seem to really enjoy a moth or other small winged insects. Horned Lizards require some supplementaion. Reptile vitamins can be given once a week to twice a month. You should dust the crickets and other non ant prey with calcium whenever fed. When feeding Harvester Ants place only a few at a time in with the Horned Lizard. If you put too many in at once, they may turn aggressive and attack you lizard. You should offer your lizard a few at a time,,,several times a day, removing any uneaten ants at the end of the day. An adult Horned Lizard should be eating 50..up to 100 ants a day. A juvenile or baby may eat 10 - 20 a day.
Most Horned Lizards will not drink from standing water. You can put a water dish in their viv for a basking pool. The best way to hydrate a Horned Lizard is to mist him and his enclosure. Captive bred Horned Lizards may drink from a dropper, placing water drops on his snout. This method can spook wild caught Horned Lizards. Due to the fact that most Horned Lizards come from desert or semi-arid climates, they do not require water every day.
Horned Lizards also stress over frequent traffic, noises, or an audience too close to their cage. Many will not eat if watched too closely.
It is best to house one male with two or more females in a large enclosure. As always, make sure to watch your females for signs of stress.
Horned Lizards often will attempt to climb the wall of its enclosure when they are stressed or in a new environment. In doing so, they will often stand on their tails, damaging the vertebrae and breaking their tails. Their tails do not regenerate, so you should try to prevent them from doing this by covering the sides of their enclosure with printed landscape scenes. There is less chance they will do this if they cannot see through their viv.
Horned Lizards do not like being handled, they will tolerate it, but it is stressful for them. With this being said, it is best to keep handling to a minimum.
2- HORNED LIZARD CARE & GENERAL INFO
courtesy to : www.everythingreptile.org/horned-lizard.html
Species and subspecies:
Species and subspecies: