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TEXAS CRITTERS

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Texas has just about every critter you could possibly think about!  Being born and raised in Texas, I guess we have a tendency to take these animals for granted.  Can you imagine an armadillo (bottom left) crossing a street in New York City??  Talking traffic pile-up's....just close your eyes and think about that one!

Armadillo's are very plentiful in Texas but more often than not, you see them dead alongside the highway......feet pointing straight up.  For awhile, it wasn't uncommon to see where someone would put a beer can between their front legs as if they were having a 'cool one'.   That may sound cruel but the fad didn't last long.  Armadillo's were not blessed with many brains or speed or good eyesight.  When frightened, they can jump straight up in the air as high as four feet but mostly, they just jump car-bumper high.  They are an odd looking critter because they are covered with a nine-banded shell which almost makes them appear to be from the dinosaur era.  But despite everything, we love 'em and it just wouldn't be Texas without 'em!

The Roadrunner (upper right) is a fun bird to see.  I've never heard one go "beep-beep" while tormenting a coyote but I have seen them run.  They can run almost 15 mph which is quite incredible considering they are a bird and a bird that doesn't care much about flying to boot!   If you're lucky enough to have one near your home, they love to dine on bugs, mice, scorpions and small snakes.  Hmmmm......think I may just start raising me some of these little fellers!

Jack Rabbits (lower right) really need no explanation.  Just look at those long ears and tell me that isn't a cute sight.   Of course, they aren't too cute when they get into your garden but, hey, they gotta eat too.  We even have a Jackalope......that's a rabbit with antlers.  Now this is a big secret but there really is no such thing but we don't tell the tourists .   We just let them buy  the postcards with a picture of a Jackalope to send back home and that keeps the legend going.

Now to the "S" word.....snakes.  That is a rattlesnake in the upper left corner and no matter what size they get, you don't want to mess with one.  A baby one can be just as deadly as a six footer.  Granted, they try to warn us by rattling the rattles on their tail but sometimes that just isn't enough warning.  Texas has the wonderful misfortune of having every poisonous snake there is.  To name a few:  coral snake, copperhead, and water moccasin plus all your 'scare-the-pants-off-you' grass snakes.  To me....a snake is a snake is a snake!!!  I don't hang around long when I run across one.

Texas is also home to the Horned Frog also known as a Horny Toad.  It is an ugly little critter that is neither a frog nor a toad but a lizard.  It is covered with a scaly armor and hornlike spines with a stubby tail.  There defense mechanism is to actually spurt blood from their eye sockets!  Sadly, the Horny Toad is becoming more and more scarce to see due to all the field spraying with now banned products like DDT.  I actually haven't seen one since I was a kid and since lizards of any kind terrify me, I hope not to run across one again anytime soon.

There are just so many wonderful critters that make Texas what it is.  Without going into much detail, I have to mention the coyote with it's nightly drawn-out howl; the buzzards, though ugly as a mud fence, do keep us free from animal carcasses; the legendary Texas Longhorn cattle with their magnificent horns which can have a spread of 8 feet from tip to tip; the beautiful White-Tail Deer which I wish I could hide during deer season; the nasty Africanized killer bees are among our newest critters unfortunately; and, lastly, the hideous, stinging fire ants that also love to get into your air conditioner, the electric company's works and traffic lights causing them to fail.  There are many, many more animals I would love to tell you about but if you can imagine an animal, we probably have at least one of them here!

I hope I've enlightened you just a little bit on this great state of ours.

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