Four of the weirdest critters in Texas

Texas wildlife is unique in its diversity. State-wide, there are hundreds of species, including enough amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, invertebrates, and reptiles to keep naturalists busy for a lifetime.

Some of these creatures are highly unusual, based on their coloring, appearance and habits. Of course, you don’t necessarily want these Texas critters visiting your home. These are some of the odd creatures to watch out for in residential areas:

Ghost-Faced Bats

You won’t forget your first encounter with a ghost-faced bat. The fold of skin that stretches from ear to ear gives this flying mammal an ominous look. As with other bats, these weird critters like Texas mines, caves and old buildings. If you live near this sort of structure — particularly if there is standing water in the area as well — keep an eye out. You should have bats removed from your outbuildings by a professional for your safety.

Lightning Whelks

The weirdest thing about the lightning whelk is how much this invertebrate has contributed to history. Native Americans considered the shells to be sacred objects due to their unusual counterclockwise spiral markings. Later, lightning whelk shells were named the official Texas State Shell.

These critters can be found in muddy or sandy areas near shoal grass or turtle grass meadows. You can collect lightning whelk shells on Gulf Coast beaches.

Texas Horned Lizards

The Texas horned lizard, also known as the horny toad, looks like something out of the Jurassic period. These critters are covered in horns, and they look pretty ferocious. Texas horned lizards prefer to live in dry, sandy areas, and they have been known to wander into desert homes.
When angered or frightened, horned lizards (also known colloquially as horned frogs) can squirt a four-foot stream of blood from their eyes to ward off predators.
Since they are a threatened species, treat them with care. A professional is your best bet for safely returning these reptiles to their habitats.

Feral Hogs

In a strange twist of fate, feral hogs are taking over Texas. Originally introduced as domesticated livestock 300 years ago, there are now more than 1.5 million feral hogs roaming a vast majority of the state. These guys live in herds, and they have a life expectancy of up to eight years.

Since they are interested in the same foods that your farm animals eat, they are attracted to areas where people live. A group of feral hogs can cause a large amount of damage in a short period of time, though they are not otherwise particularly dangerous.

Living in Texas is not without its challenges — and managing wildlife can be one of them. However, the opportunity to see critters not otherwise found in other parts of the country can make up for any inconvenience.