Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Horned Toads by the Dozen

This lonely piece of new gear has been sitting next my computer since April, waiting to be fired up. Finally happened today. Oh, yes -- it's a slide scanner, given me by my mother. Purpose: bringing color slides out of my past to life again on the computer. You'll see why in a moment.

Yep, that's my little horned toad I've seen out front. As I mentioned a while back, this is the first of these critters I've seen at my house in about 20 years! By the way, this is a really wee guy, about an inch across -- note how he's trying to hide behind that leaf of grass. If it weren't for that fringe-y outline, he'd disappear right among all that gravel. Because they blend into the background, horned toads will sit still rather than hide; thus it can be easy to pick them up.

Just for purposes of comparison, here's a much bigger lizard -- about 3-1/2 inches from nose to end of body. This picture by was taken my late husband shortly after we arrived in Arizona, as was the sequence below. All were Ektachrome color slides.

One April day in 1982 we saw a rather fat horned toad, picked it up and brought it into the house to take its portrait. As soon as I put it on the table, the lady (for it was certainly a she) began to give birth! Luckily, my LH had the camera ready.

Like most reptiles, the horned toad does deliver a clutch of eggs; unlike most, the babies are quite ready to emerge. In essence, live birth.

Here's a close-in view of that egg, which at this point is simply a membrane enclosing the hatchling. You can see his legs and tail folded up against his body.

Here, the hatchling has stretched out and the membrane is starting to dry up.

While he finishes drying, his color pattern is developing out.

Already he's an alert little fellow!

And here are two of the 12 little guys that hatched that day. Slightly bigger than a thumbnail. We entered the slides into the photo competition at the Yavapai County Fair that year and the LH took a blue ribbon. Well deserved, too.


Hermano said...

A great sequence. We have the equivalent of the horned toad here, vis, the mountain devil. many similarities but more angular.


Granny J said...

I think that the Natl. Geographic article that I linked had a further link to your critter.

smilnsigh said...

OK, I hope this is the only comment you get, from such 'nuts' as I. Why?

Because I read the title "Horned Toads By the Dozen.'

My page only showed the top of some gizmo, and it looked like some sort of a microwave or something. And first thought was..... a machine to chop up an infestation of toads.

There! Did you lose your lunch? Do you agree that I'm a little 'nutty'? -grin-

On second thought, don't answer that question! ,-)


Karen of Scottsdale said...

Oh, thanks for sharing. I think it's fascinating to see nature up close.

sheoflittlebrain said...

Wow...wow..wow! Pix to die for. Although each in it's own little sac makes sense, I always pictured them popping out dry and ready to run!
Also, I'd never thought about that betraying fringe that outlines the otherwise perfectly concealed body..whimsical gal..Mother Nature

Jan said...

I am very glad that you finally used the slide scanner!

I enjoyed the pictures so much!

Granny J said...

SnS -- Oh, dear! I hope you recovered your balance. I wouldn't think of hurting a horned toad; as a kid, I loved to catch them & pet them, down, toward the tail so as not to get spiked.

Karen -- You can bet that this was a one-time nature event for us. We were certainly fortunate.

Brain -- To this day, I've never known whether picking her up caused her to start giving birth early -- or whether that was just the way nature intended it. However, they wouldn't pop out dry, for sure, in any event.

Jan -- I'm glad I finally go the scanner going. LH took some absolutely beautiful pictures I'd like to show off!

Catalyst said...

Wonderful pictures, GJ, but I am soooooooooooo jealous. I'll be contacting you for more information on that slide scanner. SWMBO has been pressuring me to do something with the rafts of slides sitting in a file box in the closet.

Lori Witzel said...

I love horned toads, and haven't seen them where I live for years and years. I heard that fire ants have decimated their population here.

Many happy toad returns!

meggie said...

What fatastic pictures! I take it they are harmless, or you would not be handling them.

SBird said...

Wow. Those are fantastic pictures! I absolutely need one of those slide scanners...!

Aren't horned toads poisonous? Or is it just the spikes that are?

Granny J said...

Cat-A -- I bought the scanner from Calumet via Amazon; there appear to be, basically, 2 brands -- Polaroid & Nikon; since my Mom was buying, I chose the pricier high end model. Be prepared to work, tho -- I find using the scanner a low slower than that most wonderful of inventions, the digital camera!

Lori -- good to hear from another horney toad fancier. Too bad they're disappearing in your turf...but then, my little guy appeared out of nowhere & I am wondering where the heck his parents are in this neck of the woods.

Meggie -- quite harmless, tho ferocious looking. As a kid, I played with the critters.

Sbird -- see above, re scanners and re horney toads. When attacked, they will shoot blood out of their eyes, tho I've never seen it happen. And they will bloat themselves up, partially, I think, to wedge themselves into a crevice.

Granny J said...

Cat-A & SBird: further re scanners. I had this suggestion from a friend via email:

I had a thousand or two color slides that I wanted to give copies to the kids. To copy them I projected them on a screen, photographed them with a digital camera, and made CD's for all of the kids. Wasn't too much of a chore and now I have thousands of slides that I have no use for at all!! When we clean out for the move to the new house I probably will scrap all of the old slides.

Anonymous said...

Great shots. I recently bought a HP Scanjet G4050. As with most folks I have lots of slides. It will scan 16 slides at a time and will do dust removal as well as a few other things. I have pretty much finished up with most of the slides, which date back to the late 60s. I have moved them from place to place for years and finally have them in the computer.

Can't wait to see more of you wonderful shots.


Granny J said...

Steve -- Wow -- 16 at one time! That sure would speed things up!! How dense are the pixels per slide? BTW, these are ALL slides taken by my late husband -- when we went out on expeditions, I did the necessaries, like "gardening" the subject area or standing in the way of on-coming traffic because he was so intent upon his photography.

Anonymous said...

The slides I have done, I have set it at 300 (million) ppi. This scann will go way up in pixels, but it takes forever. 200 is the standard on the scanner for pictures, negatives, or slides, but I wanted it a little better, but not too slow. I works good on documents as well.


Lane said...

The first horned (we called it "horney") toad I remember was at your brother's house (I think) when I was a wee tike. I was fascinated then and your pics reminded me of that!

The scanner should make your brain just fry with all the slides you have to choose from stashed away here and there!

Granny J said...

Lane -- I know where most of the slides are at this point -- back a while, I went through many trays to make notes of the most notable pix. What's frying the old bean at this point is the amount of time it's going to take, scanning them. I wish I'd known what Steve has done, back then when I bought the fancy-dan Nikon.

jarvenpa said...

Wow. Happened by today, and just yesterday I was remembering my southern California days (when I was 4) when my cousins and I would pick up horned toads and admire them. Hadn't thought about the critters in years and years (here in the northwest forests we have newts and salamanders and banana slugs, all very charming, but not horned toads). How amazing that you got to witness the birth of twelve wee toadlets.

Granny J said...

I'm so glad you happened to stop by! We enjoyed a once in several lifetimes chance when we saw the toadlets being born. Do stop by again!

Cindy said...

I haven't visited here in a while. This is an amazing set of photos here. It's wonderful that you have been able to celebrate them again, and send them into cyberspace for the rest of us to enjoy.

Earlier this year, my husband and I found ourselves on a big nostalgia trip. He got a slide scanner, and we spent many hours bringing old memories back to life.

Granny J said...

Cindy -- welcome back! The slide scanner will bring back many many memories of outings with my late husband, both here in the west and back in Illinois. It's a lot of work, but well worth it!

Terrell said...

Fascinating slides! Thanks for sharing them with Learning in the Great Outdoors.

Granny J said...

Terrell -- thanks for stopping by! That occasion was a wonderful learning experience for both of us, as you can imagine!!!

School for Us said...

Wow! What a fascinating series of photos. Thanks for sharing it with us. Incredible!

Granny J said...

Hi & welcome, school -- I was happy to get a chance to show off the wonderful pictures taken by my late husband. BTW, I left a note at your blog re: a few other posts you might find interesting.

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