Once abundant in much of the Southwest, the Texas horned lizard has disappeared from much of its range in Texas and Oklahoma.
The San Antonio Zoo’s Center for Conservation & Research announced that 27 Texas horned lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum) have successfully hatched at the Texas zoo, with more clutches of these iconic little lizards on the way. The zoo said that the hatchlings will be released into the wild after they have been head started, which helps the efforts of the Texas Horned Lizard Reintroduction Project, which was established to bolster the wild populations of this once abundant species.
“We are thrilled about the progress we’ve made with the Texas Horned Lizard Reintroduction Project,” Tim Morrow, President & CEO of San Antonio Zoo said in a statement released to the media. “The hatching of 27 baby lizards this season is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our team. The addition of the new lizard labs, made possible by our generous donors, has quadrupled our capacity for breeding and caring for these iconic creatures. This expansion sets the stage for us to have an even greater impact on the survival of the Texas horned lizard species.”
The breeding project launched in 2017, and since then, 157 Texas horned lizards have been released into the wild. Researchers are using Geographic Information System (GIS) data, genetic research, and horned lizard ecology and distribution to release these reptiles in strategic habitats.
Horned Lizard Information
Horned lizards (Phrynosoma), often called “horny toads” or “horned frogs” are quite possibly the most gregarious genus of lizard species in North America. Of the 15 known horned lizard species in the United States, the Texas horned lizard is the most widely distributed. Once abundant in much of the Southwest, the Texas horned lizard has disappeared from much of its range in Texas and Oklahoma. It is listed as Threatened by the state. This is due to a variety of factors, including loss of habitat, planting of non-native grasses, conversion of land to pastureland and agricultural use, and the introduction of the invasive fire ant, which preys upon the native ants that horned lizards require to survive. These little dinosaurs do not make good pets because they require a steady diet of harvester ants.