Although the Sonoran Desert can seem foreboding, it is home to many animal species. These animals have adapted to the desert’s high temperatures and scarce water supply. Many species simply avoid the hot daytime temperatures by being active only at night or by seeking shelter in shaded nests or burrows. Others have features that allow them to stay cool - the jackrabbit’s large ears allow heat to radiate away from its body, and vultures actually urinate on themselves to dissipate heat!
Saguaro National Park contains a great variety of unusual animals, some of which can only be found in southern Arizona. Roadrunners, horned lizards, Gila monsters, kangaroo rats, and collared peccaries are all seen regularly by visitors. Although Saguaro NP lies on the edge of the Sonoran Desert, Mica Mountain in the Rincon Mountain District reaches more then 8600’ in height. This altitude allows for cooler temperatures and pine trees, as well as mammals such as black bears and white-tailed deer. The park is also home to species more commonly associated with the tropics, such as coati. Precious, often hidden desert waters contain aquatic leopard frogs and mud turtles.
Did You Know?
"Don't call ME pig!" Javelinas are able to eat spiny prickly pear pads with no obvious harm to their mouths, stomachs or intestinal tracts due to an enzyme in their saliva. Javelinas are not true pigs, they are peccaries, which are native to the Americas. True pigs are native to Europe and Asia. Wild pigs and boars are descended from true pigs brought over on boats to the new world.