Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Town Monday: The Horned Frog

Since the Cowboys are breaking my heart, I thought I'd switch topics for today's My Town Monday post, and introduce you to a particular Fort Worthian icon: the horned frog.

The horned frog is the official mascot of Texas Christian University, a private school located in the heart of Fort Worth. In 1897, four students helped decide the school's mascot and chose the horned frog. Wonder why? Here are a few tidbits about this colorful creature, gleaned from

The horned frog is actually a lizard, and Texas named it the State Reptile in 1992.

The horned frog's primary diet is red harvester ants--they would like to eat 80 to 100 a day. (Which makes me think Texas needs waaaaaay more horned frogs.)

The typical horned frog is three to five inches long.

Horned frogs are cold-blooded animals and have an unusual pineal gland, resembling a "third eye" on the top of the head.

When angered or frightened, horned frogs can squirt a fine, four-foot stream of blood from their eyes.

Stories of Native Americans in the Southwest depict horned frogs as ancient, powerful and respected.

In some parts of Mexico, folklore persists that horned frogs which weep tears of blood are sacred.

The mighty horned frog: a powerful, sacred, blood-squirting, state-recognized really-a-lizard mascot. Ah, the things you learn through My Town Monday. Visit Travis Erwin's blog for a list of other my towner participants.

Question: What's the oddest mascot you know? Does your state have an official reptile? Please share.

*photos from TCU's website.

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Blogger Alyssa said...

So glad to see you back in the blogosphere! Has class been keeping you busy?

I'm a Red Raider by schooling and a Longhorn at heart. Having grown up with those mascots, I'm not sure that they are all that strange.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Yes, class has been keeping me busy, to say the least. Just finished an accelerated course (six hours a week), turned in my thesis, and am teaching two sections of Technical Writing.

I love all of it, but it has made me a distant stranger with the blogosphere. I'm glad to be back.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Barbara Martin said...

Interesting post about a lizard I knew nothing about.

Canada's provinces do not have mascots, but my high school had a hand carved Thunderbird totem pole. I attended the school at the time it was made in the smaller gymnasium. The carving took nearly a year.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Barrie said...

It can shoot a four-foot stream of blood from its EYES? Ugh. The California state reptile is the desert tortoise. Which I looked up just for this comment!

3:39 PM  
Blogger Charles Gramlich said...

I always though the Horned Frogs was a great name for a team. Much like my own beloved Razorbacks.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Lana Gramlich said...

Our state reptile is the American alligator, of course, but I do love yours. I remember watching a show about it years ago, being amazed by the way it'd squirt that blood. Too much!

10:06 PM  
Blogger Billy said...

Most mascots for Major League baseball are a bit lame, but perhaps loveable just the same. Louisiana doesn't have a state reptile, but it's state bird is the pelican, a cumbersome bird that looks a little loopy, like our politicians over the years.

5:39 AM  
Blogger Clare2e said...

Awesome horned frog! The shooting blood is so fantastic! Reptiles really are so fascinating to me, and back in the day, I had friends at TCU.

6:44 AM  
Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

The Wolverines are breaking our hearts this year. And the Lions, the Tigers, etc. Tough year for Michigan animals.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Travis Erwin said...

I've always liked the uniqueness of the mascot even though we tend to call teh critters horny toads up here in the Panhandle. Used to be I'd see a lot of horny toads but I've only seen a handful the last four or five years.

7:57 AM  
Blogger AmyDeborah said...

I haven't seen horny toads in an age. My little brother single-handedly decimated the population of the horned toad in Midland County in the early 80's. He caught a bundle and "gave them a bath" in my dad's wheelbarrow. When my mom discovered the reptiles, only 2 were left lizard-paddling for their very lives.
Having lived out in West Texas, we have our share of crazy mascots. Some of my favorites include:
Trent Gorillas
Winters Blizzards
Hereford White Faces
Hamlin Pied Pipers
Roscoe Plowboys

10:15 AM  
Blogger Junosmom said...

How funny! I wrote my response blog and link to you on my own blog. But, no, KY does not have a state lizard, regrettably.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Alberta's emblems (mascots if you like) are numerous but don't include a reptile of any description. Probably because it's too damned cold for most reptiles up here.

That blood from the eyes is kind of creepy, but for a reptile, it is cute.

12:36 PM  
Blogger lyzzydee said...

It looks pretty scary and then you realised its only 5 inches long!!

12:52 PM  
Blogger Mathilda said...

Corn Huskers... What in the world is a Corn Husker?

I don't know if we have an official reptile, but we do have rattle snakes. I don't do rattle snakes.

P.S. This is a shout out to Matt Castle and my NE Patriots. I love you boys!

2:16 PM  
Blogger Mary N. said...

I had to look it up, but I learned that Ohio's official reptile is a Black Racer Snake. I've never seen one, but I think they are east and south of here.


3:01 PM  
Blogger *Tyler* said...

We can't leave out the Sandies. I can't count the times that I have been asked, "What's a Sandie?" It may not sound tough, but man does it hurt to get sand in your eye!

3:03 PM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Barbara- a handcarved totem pole? How cool is that?

Barrie- California=desert tortoise. Good to know. I wonder if they get along with horned frogs.

Charles- the Razorbacks are another fine example of creative southern mascots.

Lana- that sounds like a terrific documentary...maybe youtube has a clip?

Billy- that's odd that Louisiana doesn't have a state reptile. But I suppose alligator was taken, so they decided to go with a really bizarre bird instead.

Clare2e- I love your enthusiasm for shooting blood! My husband hates the reptile section at the zoo, but I always like it. Much, much, better than the insect exhibits. I don't like bugs.

Pattinase- the Wolverines are a great mascot. Loyal, fierce, and potentially rabid. All the qualities you want in a good sports team.

Travis- I don't think I'd want a handful of horny toads. Too spiky.

Amy- great visual on the horny toad bath decimation. Another good West Texas mascot: the Amarillo High Sandies. The mascot is actually a swirling vortex of dirt.

Junosmom- I'm sorry you don't have a state lizard in KY. Maybe you could nominate one? I'll have to visit your blog.

Reb- I agree on the creepy/cute dichotomy. And I'm not a lizard, but if I were, I'd go for the warmer climate, too.

Lyzzydee- I totally agree. Imagine if it were five feet long instead. Then we'd be in alligator territory. Which makes me wonder how closely they're related. Anyone a reptile expert?

Mathilda- A corn husker: a particularly successful remover of corn husks? I wonder how that translates as far as athleticism.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Mary N.- It's probably best you haven't personally run into a Black Racer Snake. They sound fast.

Tyler- We must have posted comments at the same time. Way to represent the Sandies!

3:08 PM  
Blogger debra said...

I'm in the same neck of the woods as MAry N. I also learned something new:
In 1995, the Ohio Legislature made the Black Racer Ohio's official reptile due to the snake's prevalence in the state. The Black Racer's scientific name is Coluber constrictor constrictor. The Black Racer lives in Ohio's eastern and southern counties. The closely related Blue Racer, Coluber constrictor foxi lives in the northern and western portion of the state. The only real difference between these two snakes is their color, with Black Racers being entirely black and the Blue Racers having a gray or greenish tint to their skin. Both varieties of snakes are non-poisonous. They provide valuable assistance to Ohio's farmers by killing various types of rodents that can cause damage to the farmers' crops.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Janie said...

I used to catch horny toads when I was a little girl. My brother HATED them, he was such a wenie. Not so much now, and he's amost a foot taller than me, so I'd better be nice.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Debra - So the *Blue* Racers have a gray or greenish tint? Makes total sense.

Janie - I commend your practical application of the height vs. niceness comparison.

5:38 AM  
Blogger Leigh Russell said...

Ugly beasts, aren't they? Do they eat ordinary ants? If so, I could do with a few every summer. Strange choice of mascot!

7:35 AM  
Blogger Mathilda said...

Question: Do you think you will go on for your PhD after your MFA?

My dilemma: Apply to the University of Denver (which is ranked 7 by Poets and Writer's in the list of PhD programs; UWM is 20) or... apply to Colorado State for the MFA. DU is wicked hard to get into, but I am left wondering what I would do with three master's degrees.

All I know is that I love teaching. I am fried on writing now; though, I have two submissions out right now (I know I should probably have more, but grading takes time!) If I want to teach keeping at the collegiate level, it would make sense to obtain the PhD.


11:14 PM  
Blogger Travis Erwin said...

I guess you left town on a horny toad hunting exposition since we haven't heard from you lately. Or maybe you've just been hard at work on that next novel. Either way I hope things are well for you and yours.

7:13 AM  
Blogger TJ Wilson said...

Hey B - just checking in to say hello. Hope your enjoying school/writing/family & all that this crazy holiday season has to offer. Keep writing... I always love reading.

7:22 PM  
Blogger The Anti-Wife said...

Merry Christmas!

4:48 PM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Hi Leigh, I think they're actually ugly in a cute way. I think they eat fire ants, which is a big blessing here in Texas.

Mathilda, I'm in for the PhD myself. I love teaching, as well, and it seems if you want a University position, the doctorate is the thing to have. What did you decide?

Travis, I'm sorry I'm such a blogoslug. Finishing the semester was beastly and wonderful, and I'm just now recovering. Will promise to do better.

Hi TJ. Thanks for stopping by. We had a great holiday, and it's nice to be back.

Merry Christmas to you to, Anti-Wife. Hope all is well with you and yours.

10:50 AM  

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