Arizona Wildlife | Arizona State Parks
Jump to: Mammals | Reptiles | Birds
Arizona’s wildlife species are as varied as the habitats they call home. From the low cactus studded flats of the Sonoran Desert, to the highest alpine peaks, the diversity of Arizona wildlife may surprise you! Your state parks are a great place to experience Arizona’s native animals in their natural settings and gain insight about their existence in this gorgeous state. This general overview will cover commonly encountered species within a number of your Arizona state parks. Familiarization with Arizona’s plant species and how animals use them will help you find wildlife in the parks. More information, and a chance to experience the wildlife can be found by visiting the parks, talking with park staff, and hiking the trails that traverse the rich Arizona landscape.
Featured Species- Mammals
Coyotes can be found statewide and occur in nearly every natural Arizona state park. Their nocturnal habits make it difficult to catch a glimpse at times, but occasionally, when they’re in the midst of a hunt, can be seen looking for their next meal during daylight hours. Catalina, Lost Dutchman, Red Rock, and River Island state parks report several sightings each year and are a great place to see the quintessential desert dog in its natural habitat.
Coyotes are great hunters and really keep the rodent populations of your state parks in check. They have been known to take larger prey species, although small mammals, reptiles and birds are typically within their preferred diet. Arizona’s coyotes come in a variety of colors depending on where they live. Various shades of tan, brown, gray, and red coyotes have been spotted in the parks, although most individuals seem to have a variety of colors throughout their coats.
One of the more unique Arizona wildlife species to frequent the parks are the collared peccary, more commonly known as javelina. These odorous pig-like creatures are always fun to watch and usually provide ample time to snap a few photos. Watching the social hierarchy within a herd can prove very entertaining as they communicate both verbally, with grunts, pops, and squeals, and through the use of body language. Keep an eye out for javelina at Catalina, Dead Horse, Lost Dutchman, Patagonia, Red Rock, and Slide Rock state parks, and then share your photos to our social networks.
Javelina in Arizona’s state parks are relatively easy to approach for photo opportunities, or simply satisfy curiosity, because their eyesight is rated as generally poor. Please keep a safe distance however when enjoying the javelina to avoid any unwanted aggression.
Arizona’s two deer species are both represented within parks across the state. Mule deer, and Coues whitetail deer typically occupy slightly differing habitats, although species overlap is common and can be seen in some of the parks. If visitors would like to increase the likelihood of an encounter with deer in the parks, they should be on the trail early or late in the day. Both deer species are more active in the hours surrounding sunrise and sunset and can be seen as they feed, water, or travel to their daytime bedding areas.
Great times of year to see either species include the spring and summer months when deer are generally relaxed and raising fawns, and then again in December and January during their breeding season. Great places to see mule deer include Catalina, Lost Dutchman, Picacho Peak, and Red Rock state parks. Coues whitetail deer frequent Kartchner Caverns, Oracle, Patagonia, and Slide Rock State Parks.
Although not extremely prevalent in the parks, Arizona’s black bears do, at times, make appearances in certain locations. Interestingly, not all black bears are black. Brown, reddish, and even blonde bears exist throughout their range in Arizona. Slide Rock and Tonto Natural Bridge offer the best chance of seeing one of these secretive, intelligent animals. Typically, the best time of year to see a black bear in Arizona is during the late summer and early fall as bears gorge themselves with food high in calories in preparation for a long winter hibernation.
Please give black bears ample space while viewing them in the parks and resist the urge to feed them! If bears become accustomed to feeding and are conditioned to humans, problems could certainly arise.
Often mistakenly referred to as desert monkeys because of their long tails and propensity for trees, the coati, or coatimundi is actually more closely related to a raccoon. These social animals are great fun to watch and can be seen in several of your state parks across Arizona. Groups of up to thirty individuals have been seen and these large groups typically contain young animals and females. Male coatimundi live a relatively solitary life and join the groups closer to breeding season.
Coati’s have been seen at Kartchner Caverns, Catalina, Patagonia, and Tonto Natural Bridge State Parks. Their population is currently expanding rapidly and hopefully one day soon we will see coatimundis in more state parks across the system.
Raccoons can be found throughout Arizona and live nearly anywhere a permanent water source can be found, even in the desert! These little mammals can reach weights of up to 30 pounds and have adapted well to living near humans and their activities. Have you ever awakened to campground trash strewn about the campsite? The culprit or often culprits, are raccoons.
Typically, these guys will consume a variety of plant and animal species, although their main diet consists of aquatic insects, fish, invertebrates, eggs, birds, small rodents, fruits, grains and nuts. Although raccoons are nocturnal in nature, there is always a chance of seeing them during the day if you’re in the right place. ..Roper Lake, Patagonia Lake, and Dead Horse Ranch State Parks are great places to start looking.
Four species of skunks can be found in Arizona: striped, hooded, hog-nosed, and spotted. Each of the four species can be found in your state parks although the striped variety is the most common. Another nocturnal animal, skunks are active at night hunting for small rodents, insects, eggs, and grubs, although they supplement their diet with various grains and fruit.
Believe it or not, there are a number of predators that prey on skunks in spite of their pungent aroma! Coyotes, mountain lions, and bobcats to name a few have grown accustomed to the foul-smelling mammals! Of interesting note, skunks rarely live over three years in the wild due to predation and a high occurrence rate of rabies. Oracle, Alamo, and Patagonia Lake state parks offer great wildlife viewing opportunities for several Arizona Skunk species.
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Featured Species- Reptiles/Amphibians
These interesting members of the iguana family are relatively common within Arizona’s desert state parks. Adult males can reach 16 inches in length and two pounds in weight! Consuming a primarily herbivorous diet of leaves and desert fruit, these large desert lizards will supplement their diet with the occasional insect. Chuckwallas have the ability to change their body color to match their surroundings which helps evade predators. They will also retreat quickly into tight rock crevices when threatened.
Because they have adapted to the harsh desert climates, chuckwallas may not breed every year reserving their breeding energy for years of adequate rainfall. This simple trait will help ensure the survival of a larger percentage of their offspring.
This amazingly adaptable little amphibian can be found throughout Arizona except in the highest mountains and the desert areas near Yuma, Ariz. Adults grow up to three inches long and the easily identifiable high-pitched trill is a great way to locate and observe them in their natural habitat. Their preferred diet consists primarily of insects, although they sometimes feed on other small amphibians.
Red-Spotted toads prefer rocky areas near permanent streams and other bodies of water. Dead Horse Ranch and Patagonia Lake state parks are a great place to watch them interact and listen to their calls. Unlike other amphibians that lay eggs in “clumps”, red-spotted toads are born from a single egg and metamorphize from tadpole to adult in 6-8 weeks.
Gila monsters are specifically designed for desert life in somewhat arid country. Several of your state parks fall within great Gila monster habitat and these seldom seen reptiles of the desert can add a very cool experience to your park visit. Gila monsters store fat in their tails which helps during lean times or during their annual hibernation. Their venom is used to immobilize prey such as small mammals, birds, and other reptiles. They also eat carrion and have large claws aid in digging out underground prey, or eggs.
Gila monsters spend much of they’re daytime activity in shallow boroughs they have dug out, in small depressions, or other shaded areas. If you’re lucky enough to see one while in the parks, stay back, snap a few pics, and observe only long enough to complete your experience without interrupting the lizard’s routine.
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
Although the Western diamondback rattlesnake can be found in nearly every state park, they prefer to live a solitary lifestyle, away from humans. Luckily for us, if we venture too close, many of them will give a quick rattle warning to alert us of their presence. These vipers eat nearly anything that will fit in their mouths and are preyed upon by a variety of species such at coyotes, bobcats, roadrunners, kingsnakes, and birds of prey. Fun Fact: The tail rattles are made from keratin which is the same portion that that makes up your hair and fingernails.
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Featured Species- Birds
Great Blue Heron
These majestic birds are likely found near water, searching out some fishy dinner. Similar in aesthetic to cranes, they are the largest heron in North America. Adults can grow up to 4.5 feet with a wingspan of up to 6.6 feet! Their long legs and neck allow them to snap quickly in the water, snatching up fish, frogs, salamanders, and more. The call of a Great Blue Heron is more of a croak, and different variations can mean warnings, or simply that they’ve landed safely. They can be found in most of North America, and are quite common in Arizona!
Spot them at parks with marshy areas, like Roper Lake, Patagonia Lake, and Dead Horse Ranch state parks. They nest in trees, but spend most of their time by the bodies of water, hunting for their next meal.
Did you know that roadrunners are actually members of the cuckoo family? In fact, they are the largest bird in that distinguished, yet mostly misunderstood group. The greater roadrunner found in many of Arizona’s state parks are fun to watch and can often be seen from the trail. In addition to preying upon almost anything that will fit in their mouths, the greater roadrunner has become especially adept at killing and eating rattlesnakes. Fun Fact: Roadrunners mate for life and the pair will defend their territory fiercely.
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Animal adaptations in the Mojave Desert
Desert animals are more susceptible to temperature extremes than are desert plants. Animals receive heat
directly by radiation from the sun, and indirectly by conduction from the
(rocks and soil) and
convection from the air. The biological processes of animal tissue can function within a relatively
narrow temperature range called the range of thermoneutrality, so in the Mojave
strategies not only to obtain water but also to avoid or moderate the heat. Luckily, animals have an
in that animals can move.
Some animals, such as
and bats, are active only at night
when temperatures are lowest. Animals that are active in early morning or at dusk, such as
rodents, and insects, seek shelter in cool, moist
during the heat of the day or hide themselves under rocks or bushes. Birds such as the
golden eagle ,
can literally rise above the heat, finding cooler temperatures by flying high above the surface.
Still other species, most often
migrate to cooler climates for the hottest portions of the year,
returning to breed in the Mojave when temperatures are lower.
There is also a desert equivalent to hibernation, called estivation. For example, during hot dry spells,
the spade-foot toad (Scaphiopus sp.) covers itself with a substance to stay moist and then enters an
underground burrow, where it can survive for many months until heavy rains signal it to wake. After
mating and laying eggs in temporary pools, the toads return to their burrows and resume estivation
until the next heavy rains. The desert tortoise
also estivates; it eats
from March until June, and then retreats to an underground burrow for the
heat of the summer. In the cooler fall, the tortoise emerges to eat and drink. Some desert squirrels
and spiders also estivate in response to food scarcity.
Owls often gape open-mouthed and flutter their throat area to cool themselves by evaporating water
from the mouth cavity, and
sometimes expel urine onto their legs to cool themselves through
evaporation; however, these two approaches are only practical for animals that receive plentiful
supplies of water from the prey they consume.
Some Mojave animals have developed special physiological structures to enable them to regulate body
for example, have large ears that are densely lined with shallow
blood vessels, allowing air to cool their blood as it circulates. Some small creatures, such as
beetles and lizards, reduce the amount of heat they absorb from the desert surface by having long
legs to keep them high up and to disperse heat. Pale-colored fur and feathers help others to keep
cool by reflecting sunlight.
Mojave animals also have many different approaches to obtaining and conserving water. Some rodents and insects
get water by consuming cacti and other plants, and bats obtain it by eating insects. Snakes ingest water
when they consume
such as rodents and conserve it by excreting metabolic wastes as solid uric
acid rather than liquid urine. When there is no outside water available, desert tortoises are able to
reabsorb the water stored in their bladders.
It is even possible for some animals, such as kangaroo rats (Dipodomys sp.) and pocket mice
(Perognathus sp. and Chaetodipus, sp.) to get water by using dry seeds. They store the seeds in their
burrows, where the seeds absorb moisture from the air; the animals then receive that moisture when
they eat the seeds. Kangaroo rats are even able to manufacture water as a byproduct of chemical
processes involved in their digestion of seeds, and they seal their burrows to recycle the moisture
released during breathing. These creatures are so efficient in their use and conservation of water
that even in captivity they will not drink water when offered it.
The desert bighorn sheep
is an example of a Mojave animal that is somewhat reliant on
springs, rivers, puddles, and other outside sources of water, since it receives limited moisture from the
food it eats and has developed no special accommodations in this regard. This is especially true in winter
when vegetation is dormant and dry. Reliance on outside sources of water means that the bighorns territory,
and that of most other large
is limited by distance from such
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Report Animals and plants of tropical deserts Grade 2
- Animals and plants of tropical deserts
Surely everyone knows that the climate of deserts is very hot and extremely extreme for many living organisms, but this does not mean that there is no life in these areas. On the contrary, thanks to such extraordinary conditions, animals have evolved and learned to adapt to this type of climate. Some began to lead a nocturnal lifestyle, others — to hide in holes from the heat. Everything that happened created an extraordinary habitat for the same extraordinary creatures, which is admired to this day.
Of course, all desert animals are very peculiar, however, many biologists and zoologists single out two of the most unusual and extraordinary representatives of flora and fauna, whose skills make your hair stand on end! Who are these mysterious creatures and how did they adapt to this environment?
This list opens with a rare and rather exotic animal called fanyok. It is a small reddish fox that lives on the African continent and the Arabian Peninsula. Its body length is no more than 40 cm, and its weight is 1-2 kg. Despite her modest size, she is a representative of predators. In addition, fanek has the largest ears among all predatory animals. Nature rewarded her with released feet, allowing her to move on hot sand without any special obstacles. The animal is also not deprived of intelligence, because fanek is able to find a safe place to live in extreme weather conditions, and can also easily burrow into the sand at too high a temperature. Fanyoks cannot boast of the size of their teeth, as a result of which they feed mainly on rodents and other small creatures. They live in groups, and in one vast hole. Once a year, the animals give birth to offspring, with which they live up to 12 months.
One of the most dangerous arachnids on our planet. It has a very powerful poison that can kill several people. Fortunately, it is not aggressive and does not attack people and animals. It feeds on small organisms due to its small size (females 10-20 mm, males 4-7 mm). As a result of evolution, this spider began to actively spread to other territories of the globe. He also learned to escape the heat by burrowing into the sand and waiting for the night to come to hunt.
As you can see, these creatures have changed a lot as a result of general evolution, which made them even more extraordinary!
Animals and plants of tropical deserts report
Tropical deserts occupy the largest area on such continents as Africa, Australia and Asia. The most famous tropical deserts are located in Africa: the Namib and the Sahara. The Namib is one of the oldest deserts in the world. It is also considered the hottest and driest. The Sahara is the largest desert. It is located in the northern part of the mainland, which it occupies completely.
Some parts of these deserts do not receive precipitation for years. The temperature is very high there. But, despite the harsh climatic conditions, animals live in the deserts and plants grow. In the process of evolution, they have adapted to the lack of moisture and temperature changes: it is very hot in the desert during the day, and cold at night.
In the desert, plants have a developed root system that can reach groundwater. The leaves of desert plants hardly evaporate moisture. More often, instead of leaves, plants have thorns. The most common of these are cacti. They accumulate moisture in their fleshy stems. The thorns serve as their protection.
Trees grow in some deserts. For example, saxaul. These low trees, resembling more bushes, occupy vast arid territories.
A beautiful sight is the desert after the rain. Although this happens very rarely, it is not clear where the plants come from, which bloom almost instantly and turn the desert into a blooming paradise. This happens only in those parts of the desert where it rains.
In the deserts of Africa, in places where groundwater is close to the surface, there are oases. In these places, people grow wheat, sugar cane, date palms.
Given the fact that plants grow in the desert, we understand that animals can live there. But, like plants, they must have the qualities to survive in tropical desert conditions. They must endure long periods of time without food or water. Some of them hibernate during the hottest and driest period. Other animals are able to live under the sand or be nocturnal. To survive in the desert, you must move quickly. Animals must be hardy and travel great distances in search of water.
The following fauna can be found in the deserts: camels, cheetahs, hyenas, antelopes, jerboas, miniature chanterelles, reptiles, arachnids and insects.
The cheetah is adapted to life in the desert: it is the fastest animal. Thanks to his speed, he can always get his own food.
One-humped camels used to live throughout the desert as wild animals. Now only domesticated animals remain. They are adapted to life in hot and dry climates. Camels are able to retain moisture inside the body for a long time and evaporate it little.
Jerboas are adapted to life in burrows. They are nocturnal desert dwellers.
Some lizards in the desert can absorb moisture through the entire surface of the skin and transfer it inside the body. Thus, they have enough fog to get the necessary supply of water.
And, these are just a few of the abilities that animals and plants have evolved to enable them to survive in the wilderness.
2 class environment
Animals and plants of tropical deserts
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Report Animals and plants of tropical deserts Grade 2 message (description for children)
- World around
- Tropical desert animals and plants
Tropical deserts are extreme for the life of all living organisms due to their very dry climate, but the animals and plants of these places have managed to adapt to living in such conditions.
Tropical deserts are characterized by soils: sandy, solonchak, stony, clayey.
All desert plants can get, store and save water for themselves. Local plants survive in such a climate due to their adaptations to it: they have a powerful root system, a small height, fleshy leaves and thorns. Thanks to these acquired adaptations, they are well fixed in the soil, and with long roots they get water from groundwater, and the leaves help retain moisture for a very long time.
Plants of tropical deserts are represented by the following species: creosote shrubs, wormwood, camel’s thorns, cacti, white saxaul, saltwort, sand acacia, aloe, agave, palm trees.
Camel thorn belongs to the legume family and is the most common plant in tropical deserts. Up to one meter high, the stem is woody below, and branched above, the length of the plant root is more than twenty meters.
Animals living in deserts: ground squirrels, thick-tailed jerboas, mole rats, cheetahs, gorillas, striped hyena, armadillos, antelopes, mole rats, donkeys, phoenixes, coyotes, camels, voles, mountain sheep, kangaroo rats, land turtles and others.
Fennec foxes — small chanterelles, body length up to 40 centimeters and weighing up to 1.5 kilograms, with long ears (up to 15 centimeters). Hunt small animals: rodents, rabbits, lizards, insects, also feeds on the roots and fruits of various plants. Chanterelles easily move along hot sand, their feet are protected by pubescence. They live in groups, occupying one hole for all, buries themselves in the sand during the day.
One-humped camels live in family groups, up to twenty individuals. Their life expectancy is up to fifty years. They feed on dry grass and shrub shoots. Camels’ hooves are well adapted to life in the desert, and thanks to their very thick lips, they can feed on thorny plants.
Daily hot weather, strong winds up to 100 kph driving hot and very dry air, sharp fluctuations in air temperature (up to + 50 ° C during the day, at night it can drop to + 5 ° C) annual precipitation is so low that air humidity practically zero — how can something live in such conditions? The answer to this question is definitely “Yes”! Only the most extreme animals and plants, even if not in large numbers, were still able to adapt to life in the desert.
Tropical deserts are inhabited by fast-moving or long-term animals able to do without water, almost all the time prowling in search of food and water, or hiding from the persecution of predators. Among the lifeless stones and sands, scorched by the hot sun, you can meet rodents, for example, fat-tailed jerboas, voles, mole rats, antelopes and mountain sheep, you can see fluttering larks and hazel grouses in the sky. Predatory cheetahs and hyenas, small chanterelles — phoenixes are not rare in the deserts. And how many all kinds of reptiles, arachnids and insects are here — snakes, lizards, monitor lizards, spiders, scorpions, beetles. Hardy and reliable dromedaries, or one-humped camels, can be safely called the real kings of the deserts.
Many inhabitants of tropical deserts lead a gloomy or nocturnal lifestyle, preferring to spend the heat of the day in safe shelters. Some burrow into the sand, some build reliable burrows, and there are those that hide high in the branches of trees away from the hot soil. During the hottest period, some animals hibernate, while others migrate or spend their entire lives underground.
The flora of tropical deserts is also not very diverse. Basically, the vegetation cover is sparse for the most part and is represented by xerophytic shrubs and semi-shrubs, perennial herbs, and succulents. Often there are cacti and agaves, wormwood and saltwort, lichens, sand acacias and white saxaul.
But among all this faceless landscape scorched by the sun, there are still paradises — oases located in river valleys or in places where groundwater passes very close to the surface of the earth. Cotton, cultivated cereals, sugar cane are grown in these places, and horticulture is being developed. The date palm is considered the queen of the deserts, the fruits of which are very nutritious and are rightly called the “bread of the desert”.
Animals and plants of tropical deserts message
Animals and plants of tropical deserts have adapted to life in conditions of extreme dryness and heat. These deserts are characterized by rocky or sandy soil, low rainfall and high temperatures during the day and low at night.
Among the animals found in tropical deserts are many species of rodents such as kangaroo mice, desert hare, as well as snakes, lizards and insects. They must be able to move quickly to escape heat and predators. One of the most characteristic animals that live in tropical deserts is the coyote. They can survive without access to water for several days.
Cacti and other plants can be found among the vegetation of tropical deserts. Cacti are the most characteristic desert plants and have a unique ability to store water. One of the most common types of cactus is prickly pear. Plants also have large roots that allow them to extract moisture from deep soil layers.
Tropical deserts are very unique ecosystems, although they look like harsh places to live. They contain unique flora and fauna that have adapted to life in conditions of extreme dryness and heat.
Picture to the message Animals and plants of tropical deserts
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