Horned Lizard Breeding Success May Help Save their Species

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: August 15, 2020 4:00 am

Horned Lizard San Antonio

A Texas horned lizard hatchling at San Antonio Zoo

Photo Credit: San Antonio Zoo

The Center for Conservation and Research at San Antonio Zoo has celebrated a significant milestone in their breeding program for the Texas horned lizard. Their latest hatchling in this program means there is now enough of these lizards housed at the center to release some in to the wild.

It is expected that this fall around 100 of the lizards currently housed at the center will return to the wild in south Texas.

Over the past four years the team at the Center for Conservation and Research has been utilizing Geographic Information System (GIS) data, genetics, and current knowledge about horned lizard ecology and distribution to identify suitable habitats for the release of these lizards.

Horned Lizard San Antonio

Some of the recent Texas horned lizard hatchlings

Photo Credit: San Antonio Zoo

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“I am proud of the work we are doing to bring back the beloved Texas horned lizard,” said Tim Morrow, President & CEO of San Antonio Zoo. “While we have a multitude of global conservation projects, it’s especially rewarding to be able to secure a future for wildlife right here in our backyard.”

One of the most interesting parts of the release is the way that researchers will keep track of the lizards. To find them in the wild a dog will track their scent to help researchers find them. They are trained to detect the scent of the lizards along with their skin, eggs and scat.

These dogs will survey the release sites and help with the collection of founders for the breeding colony.

Horned Lizard San Antonio

Comparison between one of the hatchlings and an adult

Photo Credit: San Antonio Zoo

San Antonio Zoo is continuing to ramp up their breeding efforts for the species and hope in the future they will be releasing thousands of lizards each year. These efforts will be dependent on obtaining further funding.

The Texas horned lizard is also known as the horny toad. Their populations have been significantly decreased through habitat loss and fragmentation along with the presence of invasive species.

Horned Lizard San Antonio

A Texas horned lizard hatching at San Antonio Zoo

Photo Credit: San Antonio Zoo

Learn more about San Antonio Zoo on their website – San Antonio Zoo

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