Thursday, July 5, 2012

Holy Horny Toad

Lately I have run into another period of writers block.  Finally I decided I would just pick another of my favorite animals and go from there, so today I give you the The Horny Toad!  The Horny Toad is actually not a toad but a lizard.  It does have a rounded body and stubby tail giving it a toad-like appearance.  The spines along the Horned Lizards back and sides are modified scales, but the horns on its head are true horns.  Horns have a bony core, where as scales are just modified epithelial cells.  Their color varies from red-brown to grey depending on their habitat. 

They have several defenses against predators.  They blend in extremely well with the scrubby brush they inhabit.  Their first defense is to stand very still.  If detected they will puff up to prevent smaller prey, like birds from swallowing them.  They can raise the scales around their head and neck to make picking them up by their neck more difficult.  Their last line of defense is their most unique, they can squirt blood out of the corner of their eyes.  They do this by restricting blood flow leaving their large head.  This ruptures the small blood vessels in the corner of their eye squirting a stream of blood.  The blood also tastes foul to canine and feline predators. 

A Horned Lizard's diet consists mainly of harvester ants but they are not opposed to eating other insects like grasshoppers and spiders.  The biggest threat to Horned Lizards is destruction of habitat and eradication of ants (their main food source).  Pesticides have become so common that it is wiping out entire species of insects.  It is very sad that destruction of habitat and food source is the prevalent theme for more species disappearing. 

That's it for now,