Growing up spending summers in rural Southwest Oklahoma, finding and catching horny toads wasn't a hard thing to do. The extremely sandy soils between Hollis and Gould were once prime habitat for these creatures, but as the years have gone on, the odds of finding one of these horned lizards in the wild is increasingly rare. It's a beloved species that is slowly and quietly becoming extinct, and nobody is exactly sure why.

Scientists have studied the disappearance of the Texas Horned Lizard for years, but while there are several solid theories as to why these critters are dwindling, they can't seem to find a common answer to work towards a solution. Funny enough, the disappearance of the humble horny toad seems to parallel the story of the quail. If you didn't know, quail was the native prey in Oklahoma years ago. Even as late as the mid-90's, it was easy to walk a rural fence line and scare up a covey of quail for dinner. Nowadays, while you can still find pockets here and there, they've pretty much disappeared from the numbers that used to call this place home. So where did they go? The story goes two ways, and neither paints a pretty picture.

Theory 1: Some researchers believe the downfall of the quail is in large part to the introduction of deer in Oklahoma. Introduced in the 1930's, they quickly grew to the point of needing a cull by the 1950's. As you introduce prey, predators come too. Both varieties of Americas native big cats, the cougar and bobcat, can be found wandering the state chasing their meals.

So how does that transpire to the horned lizards? Well, they're a delicacy of coyotes and roadrunners... but as both of those predators are native to Oklahoma, what gives? The predator theory works sort of third party. Back again in the 1930's, Amazonian fire ants were accidentally introduced to the US through Mobile, Alabama. Dirt was used to ballast ships, so when they made port, they'd dump the dirt and head back out. They've spread throughout the country, Lawton is no different. While horny toads primary food is ants, they don't eat the fire ant invaders... and in a 1-2 punch, fire ants eat the harvester ants horned toads forage for daily. It's a weirdly cyclical theory.

Theory 2: As we grow further into what used to be the wild, we humans typically reign dominion over the lands we call our own. In an effort to keep ants at bay in all facets of daily life, pesticides stand as the accused cause of the horny toad extinction. Much like introducing deer brought the big cat predators, if you kill the prey off, the predators will leave. All the same, it could just be that these great horned predators have just followed the hoards of ants back into the depths of unoccupied nature where they'll all be safe from mankind. After all, I've ran across a few of these in the places like Palo Duro Canyon and the Wichita Mountains. Places where you would never be able to spray pesticides. Herbicides are the current front-runner theory as to why our quail have disappeared. They eat seeds, farmers spray weeds, weeds don't grow to provide small seeds, etc...

It's important to know, if you do run across a horny toad in the wild, it's totally kosher to admire them up close. They're pretty docile, so if you want to pick on up and let the kids feel the spikes, feel free. That being said, put it back. You can't keep one alive as a pet due to their incredibly specific diet and needs, so there's really no use trying no matter how much the kids beg.

LOOK: Here Are 30 Foods That Are Poisonous to Dogs

To prepare yourself for a potential incident, always keep your vet's phone number handy, along with an after-hours clinic you can call in an emergency. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also has a hotline you can call at (888) 426-4435 for advice.

Even with all of these resources, however, the best cure for food poisoning is preventing it in the first place. To give you an idea of what human foods can be dangerous, Stacker has put together a slideshow of 30 common foods to avoid. Take a look to see if there are any that surprise you.