Nature

Texas Horned Lizard Project Update: New Release Into the Wild

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The Texas Horned Lizard seems to indeed be making a comeback from the brink of extinction. Texas Parks and Wildlife announced in early September that they released 60 captive-bred horned lizards into the wild. Hopefully, this will help to restore their numbers in their natural habitat, bringing these mini dinosaurs back to their former prominence in the landscape.

What are Horned Lizards?

Texas Horned Lizard

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes called horned frogs or horned toads, the Texas horned lizard technically is a reptile. In fact, it’s the state’s official reptile. Once prolific in the state, their numbers have dwindled in the last few decades. Their habitats and preferred ants have both deteriorated as people have expanded their living spaces. But the breeding program with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Fort Worth Zoo hopes to bring back these creatures from the brink of extinction.

Breeding Program

Texas Horned Lizard standing in tracks made at Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area

Photo: Facebook/Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area – Texas Parks & Wildlife

The Fort Worth Zoo spearheads the breeding program. It serves as the only zoo in the country to captively breed these reptiles. Through tracking previously released horned lizards, the zoo has determined the best way to get these creatures back into the wild. Though the zoo has raised 200 hatchlings, this release of 60 into the wild marks the largest to date. Ideally, releasing hatchlings that grow up in their native habitats might produce better-adapted adults. Data gathered from these released horned lizards will hopefully allow for many more releases in the future.

Where are the Horned Lizards Going?

Texas Horned Lizard with radio transmitter

Photo: Facebook/Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area – Texas Parks & Wildlife

The Fort Worth Zoo is releasing the Texas horned lizard hatchlings into a carefully chosen piece of land which has the resources these lizards need to survive. For instance, this habitat has a low level of fire ants, which prey on the Texas horned lizard’s preferred ants. Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area near Mason, on the Llano Uplift, will hopefully be the new home where these reptiles will thrive.

About Mason Mountain

Slow Down Texas Horned Lizard Area Sign in Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area
Photo: Facebook/Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area – Texas Parks & Wildlife

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