Peccaries have large heads and long snouts with thick coats of dark-gray,
bristly hair and band of white hair (collar) around the neck. A mane of
long, stiff hairs runs down the back from head to rump, where scent gland
The adult male Collared Peccary is 46 to 60 inches in length and is
usually 20 to 24 inches in height. The adult male weighs between 40 and 60
The Peccary is colored a grizzled black and gray overall with a dark
dorsal stripe but is lighter around the shoulders. The fur is very coarse.
The young are reddish to yellow-brown in color. In adults there is a mane
that extends down the crown of the head to the rump, which is most obvious
when the Peccary is excited.
Peccaries usually travel in a band from 6 to 12 although as many as 50
have been seen together. They are most active during early morning and
evening when it is cooler. Members eat, sleep, and forage together. The
exceptions are the old and infirm, who prefer to die in solitude. Herds
have a characteristic linear dominance hierarchy, wherein a male is always
dominant and the remainder of the order is largely determined by size.
Peccaries tend to remain near permanent sources of water. Unlike Coyotes
and Bobcats, Peccaries are unable to evaporate moisture through panting to
prevent overheating. During the fierce heat of midday, Peccaries bed down
in the shade and forage where it's cooler.
Territories are defended by the rubbing of the rump oil gland against
rocks, tree trunks and stumps. Collared Peccaries fend off adversaries by
squaring off, laying back their ears, and clattering their canines. In
fight, they charge head on, bite, and occasionally lock jaws.
Food & Hunting
Collared Peccaries move about in small family groups, eating roots,
fruits, insects, worms, and reptiles. Collared Peccaries are primarily
herbivorous, and have complex stomachs for digesting coarsely-chewed food.
In the northern range, Collared Peccaries eat more herbivorous foods, such
as roots, bulbs, beans, nuts, berries, grass and cacti. Despite all this
supplementary diet, the main dietary components of this species are agaves
and prickly pears.
Geography – Range
The Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts of southwestern Texas, New Mexico and
Arizona, southward through Central America to northern Argentina.
- Weight: 35-60 lbs.
- Length with tail: 40-60"
- Shoulder Height: 20-24"
- Sexual Maturity: 2 years
- Mating Season: year round
- Gestation Period: 140-150days
- No. of Young: 1-3, 2 avg.
- Birth Interval: 1 year
- Lifespan: 10 years in the wild
- Typical diet: agaves and prickly pears
Collared Peccary is the only wild, native, pig-like animal found in
the United States.
The Collared Peccary, also known as the Javelina, Tayaussa or the Musk
They are called Javelina because of their razor-sharp tusks, Spanish
for javelin or spear.
You may smell a peccary before you see it.
The prickly pear is ideal food for the Collared Peccary due to its
high water content.
Collared Peccary have poor eyesight and good hearing.
Bobcat - Felis
There is only one species of Bobcat in California and in the
southwestern deserts -- Felis rufus. It has the widest and most
continuous range of any California carnivore and is found throughout all
the deserts of the American Southwest.
Bobcats are found in
almost all types of habitat -- except metropolitan areas -- especially in
mountains and even in desert areas where water is available. In fact it
ranges through all four deserts of the American Southwest, but favors
rocky, brushy hillsides on which to live and hunt.
The name Bobcat may
have originated from its short tail, which is only 6 or 7 inches long. The
end of its tail is always black, tipped with white, which distinguishes
the Bobcat from its northern cousin, the Canadian Lynx, whose tail is
tipped solid black.
The Bobcat has long legs and large paws. Large specimens can weigh up to
30 pounds, but the average Bobcat is only 15 to 20 pounds. The Bobcat's
growls and snarls are so deep and fearsome, particularly when hidden from
view, that one gets the mis-impression it must be a Mountain Lion.
Geographic variations have some effect on their color. Those found in
timber and heavy brush fields are darker with rust-colored tones, while
those found in the Great Basin area of northeastern California generally
are a paler tawny-gray, often with a complete absence of spots on the back
and less distinct markings. The coat in wintertime is a beautiful fur.
Despite its pussycat
appearance when seen in repose, the Bobcat is quite fierce and is equipped
to kill animals as large as deer. When living near a ranch, it may take
lambs, poultry and even young pigs. However, food habit studies have shown
Bobcats subsist on a diet of rabbits, ground squirrels, mice, pocket
gophers and wood rats. Quail have been found in bobcat stomachs, but
predation by bobcats does not harm healthy game populations.
The Bobcat roams freely at night and is frequently abroad during the day
except at the peak of summer. It does not dig its own den. If a crevice or
a cave is not available, it will den in a dense thicket of brush or
sometimes choose a hollow in a log or a tree.
Bobcats occupy areas from 1/4 of a square mile to as much as 25 square
miles, depending on the habitat and sex of the Bobcat. Female Bobcats
occupy smaller areas than males and normally do not associate with other
female bobcats. Males roam wider than females; while they are not
particularly tolerant of other males, the home ranges of males will
overlap those of both males and females.
All four deserts of the American
Southwest and beyond.
Chaparral, wooded areas and among
boulders on the slopes of rocky ridges in canyons and open desert.
The Gray Fox is the only member of the
dog family that can climb trees, usually to seek refuge or in search of
roosting birds. It can reach a speed of 28 mph for short distances and has
lived for up to 10 years in captivity; longevity in the wild is probably
The Gray Fox is smaller in size than the Coyote -- usually 32 to 45 inches
long, and weighs 7 to 11 pounds. Its coloration is grizzled gray on top,
with a white throat extending underneath; it is rusty-red along the sides.
The tail usually has a black mane along the top, with a dark-gray or black
tip. Gray Foxes have elongated muzzles and forward-pointing ears.
Although primarily nocturnal, The Gray Fox may sometimes be seen foraging
during the day, seeking primarily small mammals, but being an omnivore, it
will also eat eggs, insects, birds, fruits, acorns and berries.
If not using a hollow tree, the vixen (female) may dig her den into soil
or enlarge the burrow of another animal. This den may be as much as 75
feet long and can have 10 or more exits. There are also numerous side
chambers used for food storage and for the transfer of young, once a
chamber becomes too soiled to inhabit.
Geography – Range
Throughout the Mojave, Sonoran, Chihuahuan and southern Great Basin
deserts. They are in all the Southwestern states.
The legendary roadrunner is famous for its distinctive appearance, its
ability to eat rattlesnakes and its preference for scooting across the
American deserts, as popularized in
Warner Bros. cartoons.
The roadrunner is a large, black-and-white, mottled ground bird with a
distinctive head crest. It has strong feet, a long, white-tipped tail and
an oversized bill.
It ranges in length from 20 to 24 inches from the tip of its tail to the
end of its beak. It is a member of the Cuckoo family (Cuculidae),
characterized by feet with 2 forward toes and 2 behind.
When the roadrunner senses danger or is traveling downhill, it flies,
revealing short, rounded wings with a white crescent. But it cannot keep
its large body airborne for more than a few seconds, and so prefers
walking or running (up to 17 miles per hour) usually with a clownish gait.
The roadrunner makes a series of 6 to 8, low, dovelike coos dropping in
pitch, as well as a clattering sound by rolling mandibles together.
The roadrunner has a long, graduated tail carried at an upward angle.
The roadrunner has long stout legs.
The roadrunner is uniquely suited to a desert environment by a number of
physiological and behavioral adaptations:
Its carnivorous habits offer it a large supply of very moist food.
It reabsorbs water from its feces before excretion.
A nasal gland eliminates excess salt, instead of using the urinary tract
like most birds.
It reduces its activity 50% during the heat of midday.
Its extreme quickness allows it to snatch a humming bird or dragonfly from
The roadrunner inhabits open, flat or rolling terrain with scattered cover
of dry brush, chaparral or other desert scrub.
Food & Hunting
The roadrunner feeds almost exclusively on other animals, including
insects, scorpions, lizards, snakes, rodents and other birds. Up to 10 %
of its winter diet may consist of plant material due to the scarcity of
desert animals at that time of the year.
Because of its lightening quickness, the roadrunner is one of the few
animals that preys upon rattlesnakes. Using its wings like a matador's
cape, it snaps up a coiled rattlesnake by the tail, cracks it like a whip
and repeatedly slams its head against the ground till dead.
It then swallows its prey whole, but is often unable to swallow the entire
length at one time. This does not stop the roadrunner from its normal
routine. It will continue to meander about with the snake dangling from
its mouth, consuming another inch or two as the snake slowly digests.
Roadrunners are quick enough to catch and eat rattlesnakes.
Roadrunners prefer walking or running and attain speeds up to 17 mph. hour
The Roadrunner is also called the Chaparral Cock.
The Roadrunner reabsorbs water from its feces before excretion.
The Roadrunner’s nasal gland eliminates excess salt, instead of using
the urinary tract like most birds.
The Roadrunner is the state bird of New Mexico.
Weight: 8-24 oz.
Length: 20-24 inches
Sexual Maturity: 2-3 yrs.
Mating Season: Spring
Incubation: 18-20 days
No. of Eggs: 2-12
Birth Interval: 1 year
Lifespan: 7 to 8 years
Typical diet: insects, lizards, snakes
Sonoran Desert of extreme southeastern
California, southern Arizona and adjoining northwestern Mexico.
Desert slopes and flats, especially rocky
Creamy-white, 3-inch-wide flowers with
yellow centers bloom May and June. Clustered near the ends of branches,
the blossoms open during cooler desert nights and close again by next
The magnificent Saguaro Cactus, the state
flower of Arizona, is composed of a tall, thick, fluted, columnar stem, 18
to 24 inches in diameter, often with several large branches (arms) curving
upward in the most distinctive conformation of all Southwestern cacti.
The skin is smooth and waxy, the trunk and stems have stout, 2-inch spines
clustered on their ribs. When water is absorbed , the outer pulp of the
Saguaro can expand like an accordion, increasing the diameter of the stem
and, in this way, can increase its weight by up to a ton.
The Saguaro often begins life in the shelter of a "nurse" tree
or shrub which can provide a shaded, moister habitat for the germination
of life. The Saguaro grows very slowly -- perhaps an inch a year -- but to
a great height, 15 to 50 feet. The largest plants, with more than 5 arms,
are estimated to be 200 years old. An average old Saguaro would have 5
arms and be about 30 feet tall.
The Saguaro has a surprisingly shallow
root system , considering its great height and weight. It is supported by
a tap root that is only a pad about 3 feet long, as well as numerous stout
roots no deeper than a foot, emanating radially from its base. More
smaller roots run radially to a distance equal to the height of the
Saguaro. These roots wrap about rocks providing adequate anchorage from
winds across the rocky bajadas.
The slow growth and great capacity of the Saguaro to store water allow it
to flower every year, regardless of rainfall. The night-blooming flowers,
about 3 inches wide, have many creamy-white petals around a tube about 4
inches long. Like most cactus, the buds appear on the southeastern
exposure of stem tips, and flowers may completely encircle stems in a good
A dense group of yellow stamens forms a
circle at the top of the tube; the Saguaro has more stamens per flower
than any other desert cactus. A sweet nectar accumulates in the bottom of
this tube. The Saguaro can only be fertilized by cross-pollination --
pollen from a different cactus. The sweet nectar, together with the color
of the flower, attracts birds, bats and insects, which in acquiring the
nectar, pollinate the Saguaro flower.
Unlike the Queen of the Night cactus, not all of the flowers on a single
Saguaro bloom at the same time. Instead, over a period of a month or more,
only a few of the up to 200 flowers open each night, secreting nectar into
their tubes, and awaiting pollination. These flowers close about noon the
following day, never to open again. If fertilization has occurred, fruit
will begin to form immediately.
The 3-inch, oval, green fruit ripens just
before the fall rainy season, splitting open to reveal the bright-red,
pulpy flesh which all desert creatures seem to relish. This fruit was an
especially important food source to Native Americans of the region who
used the flesh, seeds and juice. Seeds from the Saguaro fruit are prolific
-- as many as 4,000 to a single fruit -- probably the largest number per
flower of any desert cactus.
While the Whitewing Dove (whose northern range coincides with range of the
Saguaro) is one of its primary pollinators, it is the Gila Woodpecker and
the Gilded Flicker who make their home in the Saguaro Cactus by chiseling
out small holes in the trunk.
All four southwestern deserts.
Southern Nevada, extreme southwest Utah, southeastern California,
southern third of Arizona, southern New Mexico, into west Texas and
south into Mexico.
Well-drained slopes and plains,
especially those with a layer of caliche, up to 4,000 feet. Often the
most abundant shrub, even forming pure stands.
Inch-wide twisted, yellow petals
bloom from February-August. Some individuals maintain flowers year
round. After the Creosote blooms the flower turns into a small white
fuzzy fruit capsule that has 5 seeds. You can find these seed capsules
on the ground under the creosote bushes.
Globose, hairy, reddish-white.
The Creosote Bush is the most
characteristic feature of North America's hot deserts. It is one of
the best examples of a plant that tolerates arid conditions simply by
its toughness. It competes aggressively with other plants for water,
and usually wins, accounting for its prevalence in many arid locations
of the southwest.
This medium-to-large evergreen shrub
has numerous flexible stems projecting at an angle from its base. It
is usually less than 4 feet high, but can grow to 12-foot heights with
abundant water. Its small (1/4 to 1/2 inches), pointed, yellow-green
leaves have adapted to conserve water and dissipate heat. The bush may
lose some of these waxy, resinous leaves during extreme drought, but
never loses them all. These leaves are especially pungent after a
rain, and have been used as antiseptics and emetics by native peoples.
Its foliage provides refuge for crickets, grasshoppers and praying
How to grow from seeds.
Place several of these seed capsules
in a shallow pan cover with boiling water. Let them soak over night,
and then place a few seed capsules in a pot with soil and start to
water. Thin out the extra seedlings and plant.