Most, if not all, herpetologists can attribute their involvement with reptiles and amphibians with a fascination of dinosaurs when they were young. It was definitely the case with me, and I can remember the summer days of my childhood observing a modern-day dinosaur, the Eastern Collared Lizard, often coined the name “Mountain Boomer” by those who encounter this species frequently.
Wild About Texas by Michael Price
As I have mentioned on more than one occasion, many times a common name for an animal can be misleading. However, the common name of a species of nonvenomous snake that inhabits this area is pretty straight forward. The common name for the Great Plains Ratsnake not only describes where it prefers to live, but also what it eats.
Many animals are habitat specialists, and as such, their range is often limited to small areas that support that a particular habitat. Other animals are habitat generalists, meaning that they can thrive in multiple habitats, and as such, their range is often larger than the habitat specialists. There are a few animals however, that take the term habitat generalists so literally that their natural range is huge, and one such animal is the world’s most widespread songbird, the House Sparrow.
If I have haven’t said it enough in this column already, let me say it again. Things in the natural world are not always as they seem. Oftentimes birders will rely not only on their sight for observations, but on their ears as well. However, when it comes to the official state bird of Texas, what one hears may not be the species that is actually present.
By Michael Price
Most folks are very familiar with the two most common types of amphibians that reside in this state. Nearly everyone has heard a frog calling, or seen a toad in their own backyard. Yet most people are not aware of a foot-long, 4-legged and tailed amphibian that dwells here as well, and that is the Barred Tiger Salamander.
As a herpetologist (one who studies reptiles and amphibians), I have spent the majority of my time researching the former group. However, there is a species of amphibian that has always intrigued me, not only due to its large size, but because of its uses to man as a food source, as well as a bait item. This species is the familiar Bullfrog.