cornutum is the Texas State Reptile. The
species is found in the mid-western and southern U.S. and in some parts of
northern Mexico. In 1967, the Texas legislature passed laws prohibiting
collection, exportation, and sale of Phrynosoma cornutum. Prior to
this legislation, tens of thousands of Horned Toads were exported (dead and
alive) from Texas every summer by tourists, would-be pet owners, and others,
leading to the death of many a horned toad. Today, all Texas Horned Toad
populations continue to decline.
Texas Horned Toads measure about two-and-one-half to five inches from nose
to vent, with an overall length of seven to seven-and-one-half inches. They
are flat-bodied and have a large crown of spines on the head, of which the
two center spines are the longest. They have two rows of fringe on each side.
Their belly scales are keeled, and dark lines radiate from their eyes.
Texas Horned Toads inhabit open country which may vary from dry hard pan
with sparse brush, to loose-soil grasslands supporting cactus, mesquite, and
other low sparse brush. They prefer loose sandy soil because they often bury
themselves. During summer months hey have been known to lie motionless during
the night under low brush in order to use their coloration as camouflage in
their resting place. Texas Horned Toads are found from sea level up to 6,000
Phrynosoma cornutum lay eggs (oviparious). The mated female may deposit
forty or more eggs in a burrow she has prepared, usually during the months of
May to July. The young typically hatch within six weeks. Neonates usually
measure about one-and-one-fourth inches.
They are diurnal. Texas Horned Toads, when alarmed, may puff up and squirt
blood out of the corner of the eye as a defense. Texas Horned Toads go into
hibernation around late September to October, depending on weather. They
usually come out of hibernation when the weather warms in March or
In the wild, the main diet of the Texas Horned Toad is about 69 percent
harvester ants, with the remainder mostly being a mixture of termites,
beetles, grubs, and various insects.
You will find Phrynosoma Cornutum from central Kansas, southwestern
Missouri, and southeastern Colorado and throughout most of Oklahoma and Texas
(including coastal barrier islands). The southeastern half of New Mexico and
the southeastern corner of Arizona down to the Mexican states of Sonora,
Chihuahua, Durango, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas are also
home to some of these lizards. Isolated populations have been reported in
Alabama and Florida. Phyrnosoma cornutum is only one of several horned lizard
Horned Toads are listed
as threatened in Texas.
Horned Toad populations have declined dramatically in both Texas and
Oklahoma. Horned Toads have practically disappeared in the eastern and
central portions of their range in Texas due to human disturbances, such as
converting habitat to agriculture or to urban centers. Sadly, Texas Horned
Toads will continue their rapid decline in North, Central, and South Texas—
and beyond, as urbanization balloons more each year.