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The Panhandle Plains area is located on the very North-Western top of Texas. It is red on the map. . Texas is naturally divided into several sections. These areas are different habitats, or environments, where different things prefer to live. .
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The Panhandle Plains area is located on the very North-Western top of Texas. It is red on the map.
These areas are different habitats, or environments, where different things prefer to live.
This region has mostly flat, grassy land or plains. These plains are part of the same flat grassland that extends from the Great Plains of the Central United States.
The eastern part of the Panhandle is not quite as flat. It is lower in elevation and called a rolling plain. There is more rainfall in this eastern half and it is brushy.
The western and eastern parts of the Panhandle region is strikingly divided by deep canyons carved by rivers and their tributaries that wind their way through this area.
and pioneers all
much more than
were once part of
Comanche language and the Shoshone language are still almost the same. Bands of Comanches began moving south a long time ago. By the early 1700s they showed up in the Texas panhandle and in New Mexico.
The Comanche Indians lived in teepees on the grasslands and in the canyons of the Llano Estacado. They were nomads who rode horses and hunted bison. There were many conflicts between the Native Americans and the white settlers. In order to move the Native Americans from desirable lands, the white people killed bison, the Indians source of food and trade. Some Indians and white people wanted peace and agreed to live cooperatively, only to have others attack an Indian village or traveling whites and undo the peace. Sometimes the Indians kidnapped Mexican, African-American, or Caucasian women and children to take the place of their own loved ones who had died in a battle.
was reelected to the
December, 1841 he
saw the effectiveness
of the Rangers and on
January 29, 1842
approved a law that
officially provided for
a company of mounted men to "act as Rangers."
As a result, 150 Rangers under Captain John Coffee "Jack" Hays, were assigned to protect the southern and western portions of the Texas frontier. Houston's foresight in this decision proved successful in helping to repel the Mexican invasions of 1842, as well as shielding the white settlers against Indian attacks over the next three years. The Texas Rangers had severely damaged the strength of the most powerful Indian tribes.
Cowboys were important to the establishment of Texas. The Longhorn Cattle was perfect for Texas, as they could live with little water, travel miles, and keep weight on in order to be sold for a good price.
Explorers from Spain were some of the first outsiders to enter Texas. They established Catholic Churches, and interacted both negatively and positively with the native population.
of the Great Plains.
It is home to animals
that are depend on
grasses and are adapted to live where water is
less common and temperatures can be hot or cold.
Bison are very large, powerful
animals with big humps over their
shoulders. They are adapted to live in
the extreme temperatures of the
Great Plains. Their thick fur keeps
them warm. They use their horns to
sweep away the snow to eat grasses.
The shaggy hair on the top of their
head protects their eyes from the
Bison roamed this region grazing on grasses and were hunted by Native Americans. Because of too much hunting in the late 1800s by white market hunters, bison almost became extinct.
Prairie dogs are very social and live in groups called “prairie dog towns.” One of these “towns” can cover as much as 1,000 acres of prairie land. The town consists of a series of connected underground burrows.
They feed on grass and herbs during the cool hours of the day. During this time, they also greet and groom each other. A “sentry “ prairie dog always sits at the opening to a burrow keeping watch. A bark is sounded as a warning for all to dive into their burrows until the “all clear” signal is given. Prairie dogs are an important part of the ecosystem. Other creatures use their abandoned burrows.
Rattlesnakes live in the Panhandle. Snakes help control the rodent population. Too many rodents would ruin crops, so the snakes helps farmers!
Rattlesnakes are venomous and usually rattle their tails before they bite. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot tell the age of a rattlesnake by the number of rattles on its tail!
The rattles start to fall off after 10 rattles or segments have been formed. Their forked tongue enables the rattlesnake to smell.
Canyon land in the Panhandle is the home to the petite Palo Duro Mouse, which lives no other place but here.
It has adapted to live in “crevices” or cracks in the steep canyon walls. By adapting to live in these crevices, the Palo Duro Mouse is more protected from its predators.
It’s body is at the most 4 inches long with a tail equally as long! It is reddish brown in color with white underneath. Primarily, it eats seeds.
They received the name "swift" fox because of their speediness. Swift foxes are nocturnal, vocal and non-territorial. They spend more time underground in their burrows than any other canid. Although they are social animals, they keep one mate throughout their lifetime.
primarily on harvester ants,
also called red ants. Harvester
ants build large mounds with a
hole in the center. Mounds are
very visible, because the ants
remove the vegetation from a
circular area 3 to 6 feet in
Texas Horned Lizards
have some amazing
defenses! Its horny
coloration helps it to
blend into sparse
vegetation. Its horns
may make it less palatable.
It can also inflate itself to a larger apparent size.
Finally, the horned lizard is renowned for its ability to
shoot a stream of blood from its eye (actually, its
eyelid). Don’t mess with horny toads!
Texas Horned Lizard
The Attwater's prairie chicken is a small, brown bird about 17 inches long, with short, rounded, dark tail. Males have large orange air sacs on the sides of their necks. During mating season, males make a "booming" sound, amplified by inflating the air sacs on their necks, that can be heard 1/2 mile away.
Hens build their nest in tallgrass and usually lay 12 eggs during nesting season. The eggs hatch in April or May. Small green leaves, seeds, and insects form the diet of the Attwater's prairie chicken.
True to its name, the Burrowing Owl nests in a hole in the ground. Although it is quite willing to dig its own burrow, it often uses one already provided by prairie dogs, skunks, armadillos, or tortoises.
They are a diurnal bird - active both day and night. This is unlike others owls that are mainly active at night.
Burrowing Owls feed on large inscects, small mammals, and other birds.
A coyote is naturally adaptable because it eats such a wide range of food: mice or voles, lizards, and even insects.
In Native American stories coyotes are clever and tricky. This reputation is based on fact.
Coyotes may scan the sky for ravens flying in circles.
Coyotes know that the birds often hover over a dead animal, so finding the birds frequently leads to finding a free meal.
Although opossums look like a big rat, they are actually related to the koala and kangaroo. The opossum (also called possum) is the only marsupial (female with a pouch) in North America. They are about the size of a cat, have black to gray fur, and long, pointed noses (pink in color).
Opossums have many teeth,
more than any other land
mammal, and a prehensile tail,
one that can grasp or hold. Their
tail helps stabilize them as they
climb but they are not used to
hang from trees.
The tail is not strong enough to
support an adult's body
(babies may hang temporarily).
Opossums are most active at night. They are non-aggressive animals (although they may hiss or growl when frightened) that prefer to avoid confrontations and be left alone.
They are non-destructive. In fact, opossums benefit the environment by keeping it
clean and healthy. They eat roaches, rats,
and dead animals.
When threatened by an animal it is unable
to frighten or run away from, the opossum will "play dead" or "play possum".
This response is involuntary. They become comatose, foam from the mouth, and
secrete a foul smell.
Bobcats are elusive
and nocturnal, so they are rarely spotted by humans. Although they are seldom seen, they roam throughout much of North America and adapt well to such diverse habitats as forests, swamps, deserts, and even suburban areas.
Fierce hunters, bobcats can kill prey much bigger than themselves, but usually eat rabbits, birds, mice, squirrels, and other smaller game. The bobcat hunts by stealth, but delivers a deathblow with a leaping pounce that can cover 10 feet (3 meters).
Raccoons are highly nocturnal, and
their nightly forays will generally
begin when the sun sets and will not
end until the sun reappears the
following morning. Their activity during
the daylight hours is limited to resting in
their dens that are usually located in
secretive areas such as rock ledges or in tree
trunks. They are primarily solitary, although
occasionally females will gather in groups
of two or three individuals.
The nine-banded armadillo one of Texas’ most interesting mammals. It is found in most of the state except the western Trans-Pecos.
Bowlegged and pigeon-toed, the porcupine slowly ambles
along, swinging its fat body from side to side, muttering to
itself. A pleasant enough creature when left alone, the
porcupine is quick to defend itself at the slightest threat.
With a top speed of little more than a fast waddle, it can
escape very few animals; however, its defensive weapons
are so effective, it has no need for speed.
These weapons, which are really modified hairs,
take the form of a protective body armor of
needle-sharp quills. Researchers estimate the
porcupine has more than 30,000 of these quills
with as many as 100 to 140 growing from each
square inch of skin. Only the nose, legs, and
underside are unprotected. The rest of the body,
from eyebrow to tail tip, is covered with prickly
And yes……that’s a Tornado
Next, we move East to explore the Prairies and Lakes of Texas.