This is a desicated horny toad the bolaman found a few years ago on the dirt road leading up to our Texas farmhouse.
If you were a war baby sometime after WW II, by the early 1950's you would be finding horny toads, well, let's get this straight. Horny Toads aren't toads at all but rather horned lizards but they will be affectionaly called "horny toads" in the confines of this gallery. Anyway, if you lived in the south or western states of the U.S. you would often find these little slow running, happy to be belly rubbed, stocky little lizards in your yard. They would eat the very large and benign by todays standards "big red ants".
You could tie thread to their neck or torso and have them pull, brown or black plastic cowboys or indian figures, their horses or plastic green WWII foot soldiers if you were more interested in modern armaments. Those who played with the foot soldiers generally turned out to be republicans (before republicans were cool - if ever). Often they were man eating dinosaurs before the days of Godzilla.
One of my personal favorites was old "three legs". Two up front, one behind. I found him along the railroad tracks on the way home from school. I remember the hobos along the tracks cooking coffee in the morning. I would always walk a little faster balancing myself along those Oklahoma railroad rails in case one of them would start running after me or my big brothers who were already in the 2nd and 4th grades. Fifty nine, sixty, sixty one counting the steps before I'd step off the rail.
I didn't realize until later that living along the railroad tracks was the cheapest place to rent, I just thought it was the coolest. My school friends would love to visit, "wow, you have a real train in your backyard". That's where I first learned to flatten coins courtesy of the Sante Fe railroad.
One time we found a box of 6 or 7 polyester womans house coats along the tracks that had apparently fallen off the train. Or thrown off "sharing the wealth" by some dust bowl Okie refugees who decided they would rather keep traveling even after the dust settled. We thought we won the lottery for mom but she notified the owners of their loss and was told to keep them as a reward for her honesty. The neighbor ladies looked nice in the morning for a while.
About the belly rubbing. You could lay a horny toad on it's back in your 6 year old palm and stroke their stomachs and they would relax and nearly smile and not try to run away. Just like a man except for the runaway part. Unlike many fast track lizards you could easily catch them. I never had a horny toad that ran away from its tail still held in my fingertips like other lizards were so proud to do.
They say that a horny toad will spit a drop of blood in your eye. It never happened to me and friends like that I probably don't need.
In selling of horny toads to northern humans in the 1950s, human population pressures, agrabusiness, increasing use of pesticides and the invasion of fire ants in the southern US has eliminated horny toads in much of the south. They are now endangered in Texas.
Once a year in the far reaches of West Texas there is a little known competition for the award for Miss Horny Toad Texas. This event is little known from outside their species for fear that the media would drive over the contestants. I refuse to divulge the whereabouts or whenabouts of this event.
For the first ten years until 1987 on this Texas blackland farm I didn't see a horny toad, then in the space of a year I saw 4 to 5 and then came the invasion of the fire ants. I believe the horny toads were forced along the forward edge of the fire ants in a search for their food source, the big red ant, and survival.
The last horny toad I saw was in the desert 15 miles west of the gorge near Taos, New Mexico. Run along, little fellow. For more information on my favorite reptile visit The Horned Lizard Conservation Society.