Keeping Things Alive...

Learning about nature and becoming an expert on what is happening in your piece of the wilderness can be lots of fun. Pretty soon you may want to know even more about the wildlife around you. Like things you can only find out by looking longer than just a few minutes, or even more than a day. That’s what happened when Justin and Travis were out in a farm pasture one afternoon, and discovered a horny toad.

What a creature! At first it looked like a frog, but on closer inspection, it seemed more like a miniature dinosaur. What kind of food did it eat? Did it have teeth? Would it bite if thy picked it up? This was going to take some research and observation just to figure all these things out. What should they do with it in the meantime?

Now they needed a specimen habitat.

The only thing they had on hand was an old hamster cage. But with a few modifications it would work.

They made the inside look as much like the area where they had captured their horny toad, as they could. They put dirt, stones, and even a small plant inside.

NOTE: Horny toads are great at camouflage... can you see him inside the cage?

Later, back at home, when they had a chance to read up on it in a field guide, they discovered not only what they should feed their horny toad, but also some other amazing things that they weren’t even expecting. The biggest surprise was that it wasn’t a "toad" at all.  Sometimes they were called "horned frogs"...but it wasn’t a frog, either.

It was a reptile! And it was called a Texas Horned Lizard. Its favorite food was ants – black or red (but no fire ants!) – and it had some pretty tricky tactics for keeping itself safe. To find out what they were, head on over to our wildlife page.

Thanks for sharing, boys!

Would you like to ask Justin and Travis a question?

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Some words and phrases you might want to know...

horny toad:
Any of several lizards  having hornlike projections on the head, a spiny flattened body, and a short tail. Also called horned frog.

specimen habitat:
A place to keep live specimens while they are being studied that most closely resembles the environment they were taken from.

Clothing or coloring that allows one to blend into their surroundings.

Any of various cold-blooded, usually egg-laying vertebrates of the class Reptilia, such as a snake, lizard, crocodile, turtle, or dinosaur, having an external covering of scales or horny plates and breathing by means of lungs.

Texas Horned Lizard:

The biggest and most common "Horny Toad" in the United States.

If you would like to know more about Texas Horned Lizards, just click on the picture below..


Dear Justin and Travis...

Question Box



Send your story and pictures to , tell us if you would like to use first names or no names in your article, and if you would like to answer questions from other Wilderness Kids about your adventure.

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Wilderness Kids Club 
is sponsored by the

  Wilderness School Institute,
 where they 
"take learning back to nature."

Our last adventure was:

"The Littlest Cave Expedition"

If you would like to go there, 
click on the picture.