Texas Horned Lizard

A rare glimpse of a creature slowly disappearing from today’s landscape

My older brother, dressed in Toughskin jeans from Sears—the type with the reinforced knees—well-worn sneakers, a striped shirt, and a baseball cap, carefully sneaks toward an odd-looking toad with horns and a tail—or “horny toad,” as he calls it. Brian kneels down very slowly and raises his right arm above the toad. I’m watching, telling Brian he’ll never catch the thing. To my surprise, his arm swoops down and comes back up with the wiggling horny toad in hand. That was at least 45 years ago. We saw horned lizards almost daily around our home in North Texas, but their population has declined drastically over the years.

Horned lizards had been on my bucket list of wildlife to photograph for many years. On a recent trip to Caprock Canyons State Park, I finally checked it off. Just as my brother did all those years ago, I slowly approached. Not knowing how close I could actually get, I captured as many images as I could, starting from a distance, then slowly crouching down. On my knees, I extended my arms a bit, still looking through the lens and snapping away. The horned lizard seemed to be frozen, which enabled me to get closer than I ever hoped. The experience could have been more perfect only if my brother had been there with me.

View more of Carol’s photography at carolhutchison.com.

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