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Texas state reptile sees dwindling population in recent decades

Improving the Horned Lizard population throughout the state involves eliminating this common pest.

TEXAS, USA — The Texas Horned Lizard is a familiar creature across the state, but not too many are left in the wild. 

The declared state reptile is now a protected species across most of Texas as their numbers have dwindled over the past several decades.

Many Texans remember being able to spot and capture these reptiles to keep them as pets or even buying them at fairs. Due to their status today, it is prohibited to capture Horned Lizards. 

Habitat loss is partially to blame, but the massive introduction of invasive fire ants has caused most of the damage. 

According to Sibley Naturalist Michael Nickell, invasive fire ant species from South America have been introduced to a large part of Texas and now compete with the native Carpenter Ants, which happen to be the lizards primary food source. 

Texas Parks and Wildlife says that in order to preserve the species we should refrain from capturing Horned Lizards and use caution when applying pesticides to keep from killing Harvester Ants. 

Lastly, eliminating any of the big black mounds of red fire ants from your yard will help to conserve our state reptile.

To learn more about the horned reptile, you can visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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