Society

Horned lizards alive and well

Locals logging numbers of iconic Texas creature
By JANICE PELZEL

This was one of five horned lizards found in a local yard during a recent outing by two local members of Texas Parks & Wildlife's Horned Lizard Watch program.  This was one of five horned lizards found in a local yard during a recent outing by two local members of Texas Parks & Wildlife's Horned Lizard Watch program. After attending the Master Naturalist Training class this spring, I became involved in the Texas Horned Lizard Watch Program.

The Watch is a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department program designed to collect information on the horned lizard because their population is on the decline.

Many fruitless, hot hours have been spent in backyards, fields, pastures, and even cemeteries looking for this elusive little lizard.

Carolyn Burford and myself were asked to explore a yard here in Rockdale that actually was full of the little creatures.

It was a unique experience to see the little creatures running and scurrying all across the yard. We could not catch them fast enough.

Carolyn expertly measured, sexed, and DNA tested 5 Horned Lizards in less than an hour.

Four beautiful females and one large male were caught. I know there probably were more but the temperature rose so fast that day I expect they sought a cooler place to rest.

Horned lizards are thought to feed on red harvester ants. It was interesting to note that there were no harvester ants in this yard. These lizards most likely were feeding on an abundance of "doodle bugs."

Carolyn and I will be observing and collecting data for the Watch until later this year. Hopefully this information will help shed some light about patterns of decline or stability and offer some management alternative for those of us wishing to maintain and restore the horned lizard population.

As a Master Naturalist, this was an experience we will remember. Thanks especially to Courtney Gebhart, and Sierra Mendez, and the others in the neighborhood who helped out.

The Horned Lizard is listed as threatened by Texas Parks & Wildlife. It does not survive well as a pet.

If you are lucky enough to see or have Horned Lizards on your property please take care of them. They should not be moved.

Carolyn and I would like for you to call us so we can continue to collect data on these fierce-looking yet amiable reptiles.

And, yes, horned lizards are alive and well in Rockdale, Texas!

Call Carolyn at 512-446- 5134 or Janice at 512-760-6138.


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