What Happened To All The Horny Toads?

Jul 9, 2018

Credit Public Domain via Maxpixel

If you grew up on the High Plains, you might have wondered in recent years where all the horny toads have gone.

The horned lizard is the state reptile of Texas, and for decades horned toads were a favorite plaything of High Plains kids. But these days, notes Texas Monthly, horny toads aren’t nearly as prevalent as they once were.

The disappearance of the lizard can partly be attributed to the ease with which horny toads can be captured. For years, horned toads were caught by humans and kept as pets or sold as curios.

Horny toads have also had to grapple with the widespread invasion of fire ants, which have conquered and pushed out harvester ant populations—the main staple of the horny toad diet. More fire ants have led to an increase of pesticide use across the High Plains, which means fewer harvester ants, and fewer horny toads.

Finally, horned toads have also lost much of their habitats to urban sprawl.