Fort Worth Zoo Helps Horned Lizard Population

Behind the scenes at the Fort Worth Zoo, and inside the Texas Native Reptile Center, they are focused on horned lizards.

"You know, when it's hot like this, they kind of hunker down in the shade," said Diane Barber, while looking at some adult horned lizards in an outdoor living area.

Barber is the curator of ectotherms at the Fort Worth Zoo.

While the adult horned lizards were embraced the heat, more babies are waiting to hatch.

"This one just hatched out yesterday," Barber said, holding a tiny lizard that barely covered the end of her finger.

Barber is working on the horned lizard breeding and re-introduction program at the zoo. They are partnered with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and it's the only program like it for horned lizards in the country.

"They've [horned lizards] declined throughout most of the range through the northern part of the state, probably from a variety of different factors," Barber said.

Some of those factors include habitat alteration and a decline in food, including, "harvester ants, it's their primary diet," Barber said.

But harvester ants are killed by pesticides and insecticides. So the Fort Worth Zoo is doing what it can to improve the horned lizard population in Texas by breeding and re-introducing them.

Barber also helped us solve the "lizard versus frog" debate.

"These are lizards. A lot of people call them horny toads here in Texas. But they are indeed a lizard," Barber said.

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