Finding a property that had horned lizards (aka horny toads, horned toads) living on it was near the top of my moving to New Mexico wish list. I knew these engaging reptiles lived in New Mexico, but had heard of their increasing rarity due to environmental influences like loss of habitat and even the death of many horned lizards by deadly (at least to them) red ants moving north from Texas.
But I did not give up. In fact, here’s a verse from a song I wrote to keep myself from being bored during the drive from Florida to New Mexico this past April:
“We’ll travel down an old dusty road
Find us a place with a horny toad
We’re moving out west, yes we’re moving out west”
I’ve been keeping my eyes open, and in fact Ed and I saw one on a hike last May about an hour an a half northeast of where we live. Then our new neighbor (who lives about 25 minutes from us) showed us his resident horned lizard.
But after 3 ½ months of living on our 20 acres I’d about given up. We had plenty of good looking striped lizards scurrying around, graceful garden snakes with black heads, lots of interesting black beetles, a huge hummingbird population and even the occasional bear and deer. But no horned toads.
Then, about a week ago my daughter-in-law casually said to me:
“I just took a video of a funny little fat lizard, sort of sand colored and very wide in the tummy. He was down by the cabin.”
I screeched “THAT SOUNDS LIKE A HORNY TOAD!!!” Diana was momentarily astonished but quickly recovered her equilibrium. After all, she’s known me for 12 years.
She pulled up the video and showed me. More screeches from me. “What’s wrong, grammy?” Concerned grandchild, very sweet.
“Nothing! It’s just that your mommy found a horny toad on our property!”
“What’s a horny toad?” Diana showed her the video.
It’s easy for me to hyperventilate at 7,000 feet, so I willed myself to calmness. But the euphoria remained. I didn’t see the little guy in person for another couple of days, when my two youngest grandchildren burst through the front door.
“GRAMMY, IT’S THE HORNY TOAD!”
I stopped whatever I was dong (all other tasks obviously paled in comparison) and dashed after the little ones to the spot where Diana had him “cornered”.
He was beautiful. Ancient. Gorgeous and perfect. My life in New Mexico is now complete, my song has come true! And the very next day, I actually sold a pair of horned lizard earrings on my website. True story! And a very good omen indeed.