Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

The Last Time . . . ?


A Short-horned Lizard on a rock. Either Phryno...

Image via Wikipedia

When was the last time–

         –you saw a horny toad? I know, they’re really horned lizards, but to me they’ll always be horny toads. 🙂

When Sister Debbie and I were little, our parents built a house and moved us from the Ford to C-Town. Our house was one of the first built in the “new addition” (aka Hillside Gardens) and most of the area around us was open pasture.

Dad used to catch horny toads for us. They were fat and so ugly, they were cute. We’d pet them (prickly little guys weren’t real wild about being stroked) and hypnotize them. Did you ever hypnotize a lizard? Just turn him on his back and stroke his belly. He’d go right to sleep.

We never kept our HTs very long. They weren’t a lot of fun, since about all you could do was chase them and catch them. I never could get one to squirt blood from his eyes, although at least four species really do. I’ve read they do that as protection. Guess we weren’t threatening enough.

The last horny toad I saw was one G-Man caught and brought home for our boys when they were little. He let them hold it and hypnotize it and then he turned it loose. (Little guys are so funny when they try to touch one and are afraid they’ll get stabbed with the prickles.)

I hoped it was a mama toad and would start a new colony out where we lived, but we never saw the little guy or his/her progeny after that.

♥ ♥ ♥   

           –you caught tadpoles?

These look like bull frog tads to me. They’re huge!

I always loved catching them! Daddy brought us some of these guys once in a jar. We had so much fun watching them grow and feeding them crackers. After a day or two, we forgot about them until they lost their tails, grew legs and we watched them hop away.

When my kids were little, one of our favorite spring pastimes was tadpole hunting. I saved big jars for the kids to use, and we’d watch as the tads magically changed into frogs.

Now I have a pond in my backyard, and every year tadpoles turn the bottom black. Mine aren’t big like those pictured above. They’re black, less than 1/2 an inch long, and the little frogs they turn into are so small, half the time when I see them in the garden, I think they’re spiders.

♥ ♥ ♥

The wild things in our lives–hummingbirds, butterflies, tadpoles–are blessings from God. He could have made a world for us that didn’t have color. It took the God of the universe to imagine and create the beauty of nature, the magical wonder of music, the fantastic fragrance of springtime in the air.

I worry that kids today will spend so much time playing video games that they’ll miss the wonder of what’s happening outside. I still save big jars so I can catch a few tads to share with the kids in my life. I’m just not sure they enjoy them as much as I do.

So when was the last time you hunted horny toads or caught tadpoles? Do you take your kids/grandkids/ggks out and let them do the things you did when you were young?

Don’t wait too long. The critters we knew might disappear, and your kids will certainly grow up.

Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

5 thoughts on “The Last Time . . . ?

  1. I love your blog! Growing up, I was always fascinated & scared by horny toads (we called em horny toads too!). I would muster up enough bravery to barely touch one on its pokey back and run off screaming.

    • Hi Britt!
      I’m glad I’m not the only one who had the love/hate relationship with those prickly little guys. They were fun though, weren’t they?
      Thanks for coming by. I hope you’ll come back again!

  2. I loved horny toads. When we lived out in the country in Cleveland was my first experience with them. Dad would catch them for me too. I could catch them also. We’d just play with them, rub their bellies and let them go. I’d loved to see one again but they are very scarce. I saw one again a few years ago but not since. I see a lot of skinks around though. I used to see blue racers but I think they are long gone too.

  3. Blue racers are a snake that look bluish and would chase you but if you turned you could chase them. I don’t know why I was brave enough to do this at the age of five but I did. They are not poisonous. I guess my brothers taught me well. 🙂

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