Gila monsters • Gila monsters are the largest lizard found in the United States, and they live in Arizona. They can grow up to 22 inches in length, and are the only venomous U.S. lizard. They’re slow-moving, very shy creatures and are extremely unlikely to attack unless provoked. You are unlikely to ever see one outside of a zoo!
Rattlesnakes There are 17 species of rattlesnakes in the State of Arizona. They are most active at night during the summertime, but emerge for the season in March and April. Approximately 150 individuals are bitten patches of tan and brown, but that is not conclusive with all rattlesnakes. The easiest way to know if you have found a rattlesnake is if you can see or hear the rattler. But, young rattlesnakes may not have fully developed rattlers. Do not get close to the snake, and when climbing or hiking, do not put your hands where you cannot see them. If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, wash the bite with soap and water and keep the area still. Immobilize the area with a split, but don’t tie it tight enough to reduce blood flow, and keep the bite lower than the heart. Place a constricting bandage between the bite and the heart and go to a hospital immediately.
Bobcats Bobcats are common throughout the entire State of Arizona, especially in rimrock and chapparal areas and in the outskirts of urban areas where they can easily find food. They are usually seen alone and are most active around sunset or sunrise. They are tan with dark spots and have a short tail with a black tip on the top. They range in size from 15-35 pounds and are approximately 18-24 inches tall and 24-48 inches long. Bobcats rarely attack people, but may attack small dogs and cats. Keep small pets indoors, in an enclosed area with roof, or on a leash when outside. Do not feed bobcats as this will encourage them to be comfortable around people. Bobcat activity is easily spotted by large (2-3 inch in diameter) cat foot prints left behind.
Cougar Mountain lions (also called cougar, puma, catamount, and panther) is the largest cat native to North America, and found throughout all of Arizona except the state’s extreme southwest corner. They are most common in rocky and mountainous areas and are extremely shy and elusive. Although there are about 2,500-3,000 in the state, it is very rare to see one. They are usually solitary and are tan or reddish brown in color ranging to dusky or slate gray. They are approximately 24-36 inches tall and about 70-150 pounds. Urban sprawl and shrinking habitat are bringing increasing numbers of conflicts between mountain lions and people in recent years. Although very uncommon, attacks have occurred.
Coyote Coyotes are very common in rural and urban areas throughout the State of Arizona and can form groups where food is abundant, although they normally travel and hunt alone or in pairs. They are usually gray with a rusty color on their necks and flanks. They are approximately 20-30 pounds and 18-21 inches tall. They can run as fast as 40 miles per hour and live on fruits, vegetables, pet food and small wildlife. Coyotes are curious, clever and adaptable. They may attack household pets. If you see a coyote, don’t ignore it…chase it away loudly to maintain its natural fear of humans.
Gray Wolf Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), can once again be heard in the mountains of the southwestern United States. The Mexican wolf, like many species protected by the Endangered Species Act, is getting a second chance to play its role in nature through an ambitious recovery program led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).
Gray Fox Gray fox are the most numerous and most often seen fox. They are regularly active during daylight hours and are found throughout the state.
Kit Fox The kit fox is a small mammal of the Southwest desert weighing only about three to six pounds. Kit fox prefer sandy areas and are almost exclusively nocturnal spending much of the day underground. They typically reach 3.5 to five pounds, making them about the size of a full-grown jackrabbit.
Jackalope The jackalope is an imaginary animal of North American folklore (a so-called "fearsome critter") described as a jackrabbit with antelope horns or deer antlers and sometimes a pheasant's tail (and often hind legs). The word jackalope is a portmanteau of "jackrabbit" and "antalope", an archaic spelling of antelope. It is possible that the tales of jackalopes were inspired by sightings of rabbits infected with the Shope papilloma virus, which causes the growth of horn- and antler-like tumors in various places on the rabbit's head and body. However, the concept of an animal hybrid occurs in many cultures, for example as the griffin and the chimera. Indeed, the term 'chimera' has become the categorical term for such composites within the English language.
Black-tailed Jackrabbit • Statewide, note the black tipped ears
Antelope Jackrabbit Overall brown, but can flash white patches on its flanks. Its long ears are edged with white (compared to the black-tipped ears of Black-tailed Jackrabbits). Also, compared to Black-tailed Jackrabbits, Antelope Jackrabbits tend to inhabit drier areas. NATURAL HISTORY: Herbivorous. Generally nocturnal or crepuscular, they spend the day above ground, resting in the shade of a plant. Found in Southern Arizona
Arizona Cottontail Three species of cottontail occur in Arizona: the mountain cottontail, eastern cottontail, and desert cottontail. The smallest of these weighing 22-30 ounces is the relatively short-eared mountain cottontail. This species is largely restricted to elevations above 7,500 feet from the Mogollon Rim northward. The generally larger eastern cottontail (28-52 ounces) is found in the mountains of southeastern and central Arizona where it occupies many of the same habitats as the Coues white-tailed deer. The most abundant and important rabbit by far, however, is the desert cottontail (26.5-44 ounces), which is found in every county in the state up to elevations exceeding 7,000 feet.
Javelina Javelinas are actually members of the peccary family (hoofed mammals from South America), NOT a type of wild pig. They are common throughout most of central and southern Arizona, including the outskirts of Tucson and Phoenix. They form herds of 20+ animals to defend territory, regulate temperature and interact socially. They use washes and dense vegetation as travel corridors and are most active at night. They are a peppered black, gray and brown color with a faint white collar around the shoulders. They are about 40-60 pounds, and approximately 19 inches tall. They have very poor eyesight, and may appear to be charging when they are just trying to escape. They will occasionally visit semi-urban areas near washes or natural desert, and won’t cause any damage except by eating a few plants. NEVER feed javelina as this can cause them to lose their natural fear of humans. Javelina can inflict a serious wound if they bite when being fed. They may also act defensively when cornered or protecting their young. Dogs and coyotes are natural predators of javelina and they can seriously hurt or kill one another. Keep javelina away from your home to protect them, protect your pets, and keep mountain lions away!
Mule Deer Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are common here in Arizona and can be found in a variety of habitats. They are very similar to White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), but Mule Deer have larger, mule-like ears, black-tipped tails, and don't raise their tales up when alarmed like White-tailed Deer. Only male Mule Deer, like this well-fed buck from northern Arizona, have antlers. With less lush grass to eat, the Mule Deer in other areas often appear thinner.
White Tail Deer Arizona's other deer, the Coues, is a subspecies of the white-tailed deer. Coues deer are most common in Arizona's southeastern mountains, but range up on to the Mogollon Rim and into the White Mountains. They are most abundant in areas of predictable summer precipitation. They prefer woodlands of chaparral, oak, and pine with interspersed clearings.
Elk If you drive along the heavily forested mountain segments of State Route 260 between Payson and Showlow, Arizona, you'll notice this four-part warning sign: "Keep your eyes open and your speed slow. Watch out for elk as you go." To increase motorist awareness about a high elk population along this stretch of SR 260 and to decrease the spiraling number of vehicle-wildlife accidents, the Arizona Department of Transportation placed Burma Shave-style signs like these on both sides of the highway, each part of the message 500 feet apart from the next. The slogans, created by the Department and local school children, have reduced driving speeds on this mountain road and have helped decrease the number of vehicle accidents involving elk and other large game animals.
Wild Turkey • The Chiricahua, Huachuca and Pinaleno mountains all contain Gould's wild turkey flocks that are surviving and increasing.
Black Bear In Arizona, the black bear is found in most woodland habitats, including pinyon-juniper, oak woodland, coniferous forest, and chaparral. An interesting footnote to black bear distribution in Arizona is the absence of any sizeable population of black bears north of the Colorado River.
Turkey Vultures The birds return here around March. Spring and Summer months are spent here in the desert areas. By late September the huge birds began to depart, heading south to spend the Winter months in Mexico. Turkey Vultures are fascinating birds, scavengers that are adapted to feast on roadkill and survive broiling Arizona summer heat.
Road Runner Range:Southwestern US.
Harris' Hawk • Found in Southern half of AZ, small populations in eastern NM, western TX and southern CA, and south through Argentina.
Red Tail Hawk • Statewide
Barn Owl • In AZ, year round below 4200 feet.
Cactus Wren Arizona's state bird, the Cactus Wren is seven to eight inches long and likes to build nests in the protection of thorny desert plants like the arms of the giant saguaro cactus. It builds many nests but lives in only one. The rest are decoys. Arizona adopted the cactus wren as its state bird in 1973.
Gila Woodpecker A conspicuous resident in the deserts of the Southwest and Mexico, the Gila Woodpecker is a characteristic bird of the saguaro cactus forests. Predators of the gila woodpecker can include bobcats, coyotes, hawks, house cats, snakes and fox.