OAUSA Net - March 28, 2019 - Animals of the Mojave Desert

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OAUSA Net - March 28, 2019 - Animals of the Mojave Desert


Post by DaveK » Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:17 pm

For some, the Mojave desert is a barren heat sink with few animals which can withstand the temps. Nothing could be further from the truth. For those who have visited the Mojave, you know that it can get hot, but that it also gets cold enough in the winter for snow. You also know that there is an abundance of wildlife, for those willing to take the time to look.

We will cover as many different types of critters as we have seen, including a few that we know are there, but not yet spotted. For the careful observer there are literally dozens.

If you have some experiences, and some photos, put them up here, and join us on the net!

Just a teaser. Here are of examples of Desert Mule Deer. The two in the second pic are deciding which one gets the harem.

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Re: OAUSA Net - March 28, 2019 - Animals of the Mojave Desert


Post by KAP » Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:16 pm

Hello Dave, Tom and the Net,
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Coastal Rosy Boa:
Native to the American Southwest, Mainland Mexico and Baja
California. They tend to be 18-36” with color and pattern variations usually based on the area they are found.
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Amanda with Rosy Boa.jpeg
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Amanda 2.jpeg
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Last edited by KAP on Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:13 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: OAUSA Net - March 28, 2019 - Animals of the Mojave Desert


Post by KK6DYO » Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:37 pm

  • arachnid (8 legs)
  • large pincers (in addition to legs)
  • long tail with venemous stinger (CDC scorpion information)
  • noctural predator of insects, spiders, small reptiles and mammals
  • photophobic (afraid of light)
  • fluoresce under ultraviolet (UV, "black") light (scorpion under UV walking at night)

Colorado Plateau (Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument)
Arizona Giant Hairy Scorpion (largest scorpion in North America)
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Parashant tent check
Arizona Bark Scorpion (most venomous scorpion in North America, and one of smallest)
The UV Beast (a very bright UV light)
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Mojave Desert (Joshua Tree)
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Galleta Meadows (Borrego Springs in Anza-Borrego Desert State Part) Scorpion by Ricardo Breceda
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Last edited by KK6DYO on Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: OAUSA Net - March 28, 2019 - Animals of the Mojave Desert


Post by DaveK » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:45 pm


Yep. they are out there. These two pics were taken at our camp near sunset, and we figured that our opportunity to actually take a picture was going to be slim, so we really rushed to get a camera. Thus the blurry shots. The full story on the net.

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Desert Big Horn Sheep are not plentiful in the Mojave, but they are definitely there in quantities large enough for very limited hunting. Recent outbreaks of pneumonia (the last being in about 2014) did affect the populations a bit. In the general area of the Eastern California Mojave Desert, there are said to be 5 separate herds, each occupying different areas. Finding them can be tricky, but If you know where to look, and have a good camera with a decent telephoto lens, you can get some great pictures.

East Mojave Big Horn Sheep.jpg
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These critters can be difficult to find, that is, if you are looking for them. I've never actually set out to find 'em, but I have run across a whole bunch. I have read all kind of reports on how few there are, but, in all honesty, I have never understood how anyone could honestly make an accurate estimate. The desert tortoise doesn't travel in herds (or whatever a group of tortoises is called), they appear to be very reclusive, and they spend the large majority of their lives in burrows or hidden in shady areas (especially in summer.) And, I have yet to meet anyone out there who was "counting tortoises."

Imagine, filling out a credit application and putting down your occupation as, turtle counter. Not seeing it! Anyway, if you see 'em, enjoy them from a distance, but under the law, you can't touch them.

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Gambel's quail is what you find in the desert. Their populations vary considerably, depending largely on the weather. Hunting quail in the desert is not a sedentary sport. Chasing a covey requires a whole bunch of walking, especially after you bust 'em up. These guys fly low and not too far, but they seem to always take the route up the most difficult terrain imaginable. But as with many things in life, it is worth the effort. Quail is one of the very tastiest game meats you will ever find, but be very careful how you cook it and what seasonings are used. Usually a butter baste with a touch of salt and pepper will do. Cooked at camp, over a juniper fire, with a glass of fine wine, is tough to beat.

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As a "migratory bird", dove do frequent the Mojave, but not in huntable quantities. The little buggers seem to always be present though when I'm looking for quail. I've only seen Mourning dove, but never White Wing. I suppose with the invasion of the Eurasian dove, it probably wont be long before they show-up too.

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Owls (Desert)

Great Horned Owls are found all across the US and Canada, and are one of the most adaptive bird species. Their diet is highly varied as they will take just about anything that moves and which is not larger than the owl. Sometimes, even carrion will suffice when nothing else is available. The owls extremely powerful talons are its most effective means of taking prey.

The Great Horned Owl is a fierce raptor and few animals will attack it. I have read articles that claim that owls have no predators. One article even went so far as to say that in a battle between a much bigger eagle and an owl, his money would be on the owl. Tough guys1!!!

The California Nature Mapping Program says this about owls:
They make their nests in hollow trees, in nests abandoned by or taken from other birds such as hawks and crows, and sometimes in tree cavities previously used by squirrels. Great Horned Owls may also nest in caves, stumps, rock ledges, barns, and other man-made structures. They usually will not use the same tree to nest in two years in a row.
Photo is from the California Nature Mapping Program (http://naturemappingfoundation.org/natm ... d_owl.html)

Desert Owl.jpg
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Chukar are one of the toughest game birds to bag. While I've run out of time, if chukar hunting piques your interest, you should check out Chukar Chasers, http://www.chukarchasers.com/.

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Never a shortage of rabbits. Populations vary, but seem to coincide with the coyote populations, as rabbits are a favorite dish with the coyotes (more rabbits {food} equals more coyotes.) They seem to be a staple for other predators too, like Bob Cats, snakes, raptors,foxes, and others. For us hunters, they are pretty good table fare, with the preference seeming to go to the Cotton Tail.

Cotton Tail

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Jack Rabbitt.jpg
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Re: OAUSA Net - March 28, 2019 - Animals of the Mojave Desert


Post by DaveK » Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:30 am



Both are members of the cat family and both are predators. These proficient hunters exist in many parts of the Mojave desert, but are not often seen. Both prey on other mammals, including everything from small rodents to deer. Mountain lions tend to be active when their prey are also active, often at night or at dusk or dawn. Bobcats are usually nocturnal, but will take advantage of a meal during the day, if the opportunity presents itself.


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Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion.jpg
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Yes, these winged rats are our friends. Well, they really aren't rats or rodents at all, but they still are our friends. They eat bugs, and that is a really good thing, especially during the spring to fall months. During this time, when the daylight wanes and we light our lanterns, the armies of bugs come to life. On these occasions, I have often wished for more bats, a whole lot more.

If you must use a light to cook, count on these critters to circle around the light and eventually fall into your food. More bats, please.

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Coyotes are one of the most adaptable animals of the desert, or just about anywhere. They are smart, agile, quick runners, able to work in packs, and able to survive in the wild or in large metropolitan areas. Despite the best means of man to limit their presence, their territory keeps expanding and the instances of coyote kills (dogs, cats and other pets) is increasing, even in populated cities.

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Not native to the Mojave, these animals have adapted, multiplied and prospered in many parts of the Mojave. Abandoned by miners when their rich strikes ran out, these guys are in plentiful supply, but not quite as much as about a decade ago. It seems the National Park Service and the US Forest Service, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to eliminate all burros from their jurisdictions, including the Mojave Preserve and Death Valley NP. The reason: Not native. So they killed a bunch, hired people to go kill a bunch, and put some up for adoption. Interestingly, the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1972 prevents the BLM from doing the same. How the NPS and the USFS were exempted will forever remain a mystery.

Anyway, there are many remaining burros in the Mojave and you don't have to spend days searching for them, if you know where to look. The gold mining town of Oatman, Arizona, formed shortly after the discovery of gold in 1883, is a perfect example. Although described as a ghost town, Oatman still has some permanent residents and some of the mines appear to be still working. The burros that were abandoned long ago have multiplied, and the descendants freely roam the countryside and the town itself. They even sell burro food in some of the stores. Just watch where you step.

They have no problem approaching vehicles, and freely roam the streets looking for food:

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Re: OAUSA Net - March 28, 2019 - Animals of the Mojave Desert


Post by KA9WDX » Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:17 pm

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Re: OAUSA Net - March 28, 2019 - Animals of the Mojave Desert


Post by NotAMog » Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:58 pm

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Gopher Snake



One of my favorite desert animals is the gopher snake. These are harmless and very beneficial snakes but are often mistaken for rattle snakes due to their unique defensive strategy. They mimic a rattle snake by hissing loudly, flattening their heads into a triangle shape and vibrating their tails. They can appear to be very aggressive but are actually unlikely to bite when striking preferring to hit hard with their nose as a warning.

These videos show this behavior -



I rescued one from the street in front of my house a couple of years ago. It was very passive when I picked it up because it was emaciated and dehydrated. After I gave it some water and fed it, it became very unappreciative of my efforts hissing loudly, vibrating it's tail, and striking. Unfortunately, it probably had good reason since it had a very bad scar across it's back where someone probably tried to kill it with a shovel or hoe.
Last edited by NotAMog on Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: OAUSA Net - March 28, 2019 - Animals of the Mojave Desert


Post by k9atk » Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:02 pm

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Re: OAUSA Net - March 28, 2019 - Animals of the Mojave Desert


Post by Jeff-OAUSA » Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:21 pm

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Re: OAUSA Net - March 28, 2019 - Animals of the Mojave Desert


Post by HsuuJrt » Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:23 pm

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