© Copyright 2018 – Present
Size: 6″ x 6″
Support: Gallery Wrap Stretched Canvas
Description: Texas wildlife painting
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Artist Comments: The Texas Horned Lizard, or simply “horny toad” as we called them when I was a kid growing up in west Texas, was fun a painting to do and brought back lots of fond childhood memories. As children, my friends and I would see these critters all the time and often played with them for a while, then we would release them. As an adult I noticed they aren’t in abundance so much anymore. So I did a little research to find out why. This is what I discovered from my readings.
About 70% of the Texas horned lizard’s diet is made up of harvester ants. Through the years their population has declined by about 30%. Although, I’m happy to read, they may be making a comeback. The decline is due to the overuse of pesticides and the spread of nonnative fire ants. Both eradicate harvester ant colonies, destroying the lizard’s principal source of food. The Texas horned lizard is now a protected species, and, in Texas, it is illegal to take, possess, transport or sell them without a special permit.
According to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine, issue August/September 2018, “Texas horned lizards once occurred throughout Texas, but now only a few populations remain. Efforts to move Texas horned lizards from one location in Texas to another, with the hope of establishing new self-sustaining populations in previously occupied habitat, are underway. Several Texas zoos are also working to develop colonies for reintroduction programs. RAWA (Recovering America’s Wildlife Act) funding would pay for “lizard factories” to help with reintroduction efforts.”
I shared a post about my findings on Facebook and received some interesting comments.
One friend whom I’ve known since my early teen years lives a small Texas town. She told me they have a horny toad festival every year called The Old Rip Festival. And it’s all about a horny toad named Old Rip! She sent me a link to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine website. It tells all about the legend, lore and legacy of Old Rip, a horny toad that supposedly lived for 31 years! (https://tpwmagazine.com/archive/2008/oct/legend/)
Another FB pal comments, “you still see these in West Texas and Panhandle. Fire ants haven’t taken over every inch of ground like they have here, and harvester ants are still there, so that helps with the “horny toads”. Hope they make a comeback here someday.”
Updated: 11 August 2019