Cool Animals In Arizona: Dangerous Desert Creatures Of The Copper State

Joan Agie
Oct 06, 2023 By Joan Agie
Originally Published on Oct 14, 2021
A cougar moves about in it enclosure at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 9.3 Min

Arizona is a state located in the southwestern part of the United States.

It is spread across 113,998 sq miles (295253.4 sq. km). Apart from being famous for road trips and its climate, it is also famous for its abundant and diverse wildlife.

If you are an outsider, people always ask you to stay away from the Sonoran desert, as it has the deadliest animals. Even insects are life threatening in this place.

The Sonoran Desert is a beautiful place that has many plants and desert trees, situated in the southern region of Arizona. Contrary to belief, this desert is one of the best tourist spots in the world for exploring wildlife but is also home to the most poisonous animals in Arizona.

Arizona has various habitats ranging from deserts to mountains and provides shelter to a wide variety of native as well as exotic animals. How do Arizonians live among these creatures?

Most of the animals in this region, despite being venomous, do not attack humans often. Though there is always an interesting story on the headlines about animal attacks that are sometimes hard to believe, Arizonians still seem okay with coexisting with these species.

In 2021, a man was killed by a swarm of bees.

As tragic as it sounds, incidents like this have put the animals of Arizona in the spotlight. They are generally in the wild and do not disturb humans.

You can even spot one or two species simply loitering around in your neighborhood. There is no need to be alarmed as this behavior frightens them and draws more attention to themselves.

Apart from the attacks and threats posed by a few species, there is a wide variety of cool animals. If you go on a trip keeping in mind all the safety precautions, you will have the best time exploring the variety of species in this place.

You are probably wondering what is so special about Arizona's animals. Continue reading to find out why they have grabbed so much attention.

If you are an animal lover and are interested in knowing about animals from different places, do check out our other articles on animals in Alaska and animals in Hawaii. Did you know the wildlife in cooler parts of Arizona is very different from the animals in southern Arizona?

What is the most dangerous animal in Arizona?

Arizona is home to a variety of wildlife. The Copperstate has the most dangerous animals, ranging from the Gila monster to a variety of tarantulas and reptiles.

The list consists of the tiniest species like black scorpions, redbugs, and centipedes, to the largest creatures such as mountain lions and black bears. The Gila monster, a lizard, is the most frightening of them all.

While the Gila lizard is very attractive, it is better to keep a distance as they are not as sweet as they look. The bite of a Gila monster is extremely painful.

It can even jump and will not let go easily once it has caught your skin. Gila venom itself is not fatal, but it can cause a lot of irritation and many side effects including swelling and body paralysis. How can a list of dangerous animals not include snakes?

Next is the Arizona coral snake. They are a great threat to humans.

They can inject venom by piercing through the skin. The neurotoxin, if left unattended, can cause death or even paralysis.

Other Arizona reptiles like the western diamondback rattlesnake, Arizona black rattlesnake, western rattlesnake, and rock rattlesnake are common in the state. However, they prefer a life away from humans.

Luckily, before attacking, these snakes give out a sharp rattle. Once you hear this noise, you'd better flee the area.

The most venomous scorpion, the bark scorpion, is also found in the copper state. The venom of this scorpion is capable of killing a human. This is not always the case when immediate medical attention is given.

The bark scorpion is found in storage, basements, and amidst rocks. The black widow and the brown recluse are next in line.

The chances of the neurotoxin released by these spiders killing a human are rare but never nil. One amazing fact about these spiders is that they can survive for as long as six months without any food.

The brown recluse is brown in color and difficult to spot as it blends well into most of the sand backgrounds. Some of the least threatening animals are the sonorant desert toad and the red bugs.

The Sonoran desert toad secrets a toxin called the Bufo alvarius that covers its entire body. This is not dangerous to humans. This toad venom is a psychedelic drug and its usage is considered illegal in America.

When you are in Arizona, look out for these since an encounter can be fatal to your pets. As sniffing or even mild consumption of this toad venom can kill pets like dogs.

Red bugs carry parasitic diseases and stick to your skin. They gradually suck your blood.

You are likely to notice it only after a good 30, or 40 minutes when you start to feel giddy or tired. This is because they release an anesthetic while sucking your blood.

Mountain lions are the most common wild creatures. They are shy, however they can attack humans fiercely.

Reports state that there are around 100 cases of such attacks in the north, while most of them are minor, there are 5-10 life-threatening cases. Black bears are now the only bear species in Arizona. Back in the days when the grizzly bears (now extinct) were present in the mountains, there were several fatal attacks.

An Uncommon thing about these bears is that they feed on cactus and roots. The killer bees have killed more than 1,000 people.

Its defensive nature puts humans in a lot of trouble even if they are spotted anywhere near hives. Bees are widespread in regions of North America.

What kind of animals live in the Arizona desert?

The wild animals in Arizona are pretty cool. If you are on a trip to this place, you are likely to come across several creatures you have never heard of. Apart from the dangerous animals in Arizona, there are also a variety of insects.

It is not just a land of rare animals but also many other common animals, like lions, deer, coyotes, foxes, and more. In the mountain region, you can find prairie dogs, jaguars, and javelinas. You can also spot roadrunners.

Generally, this bird is not found in desserts and prefers much greener areas like grasslands and plains. Consider yourself lucky if you encounter this bird.

The deer population in this state was 1,90,000 in 2021. The rocky mountain mule deer is the most common deer. Another species that you will encounter frequently in this place is the black bear.

They rarely attack humans. The black bear is a very intelligent animal and can even climb on trees.

They tolerate humans and human behavior to a great extent, unlike other bear species. It is also seen visiting places like Phoenix when it is hungry. You will very rarely come across them in the wild.

There are around 30 species of scorpions in Arizona. The most common one is the bark scorpion. The bark scorpion lives for two to three years.

You might even spot the juvenile being carried by the mother. This place also has four skunk species and three fox species.

The spotted skunk is a small black and white skunk that is a usual visitor in the neighborhood. The species of fox are the red fox, kit fox, and gray fox. Different shades of coyotes, including red, brown, and gray, dwell in the copper state.

Desert Big Horn Ram Sheep at Grand Canyon

Exotic Animals In Arizona

Apart from the animals that live in Arizona, it is also home to several other animals, which were accidentally introduced into the state.

Animals that are introduced by humans in a particular region are called exotic animals. Many animals, including the Reticulated Pythons, wolfdogs, American bison, peccaries, bears, foxes, and many more, are exotic animals in Arizona.

Did you know the state law allows you to own and keep certain exotic animals like hedgehogs, wallabies, and porcupines? If you see a sugar glider in your garden, do not freak out.

These exotic animals are probably your neighbors' lovely pets. The reticulated python, which is native to Asia, is also here.

It is illegal to keep them as pets in several states, but Arizona is not one of them. Though they have a bad temperament and are capable of swallowing humans as a whole, several Arizonians have them as pets.

The Savannah cat is also a non native animal. It is very costly as breeding them takes a lot of time and is mostly unsuccessful.

How many animal species are in Arizona?

Arizona, also known as the Copper State, is one of the vast and diverse states that are rich in wildlife.

Arizona's wildlife includes 36 native fish species, 25 native amphibians, 107 species of native reptiles, 534 species of birds (including seven non native birds), 138 species of mammals, 49 lizard species over 220 species of native snails, and one native freshwater mussel, and thousands of insects and arachnid species.

The number of species will definitely decrease in the next ten years as a majority of them are on the verge of extinction.

Around 40 species are endangered.

Arizona holds the 10th position in the top 10 states with the most endangered species. The list of 2016 states that 10 species, have become extinct and there are many other endangered animals in Arizona including the Mexican gray wolf and the black footed ferret.

One of the main reasons for the extinction is the excessively hot and dry climate.

Habitat loss is also increasing, pushing these species towards extinction. There is also a bunch of mouse species including the northern rock mouse and western deer mouse.

How many mammals live in Arizona?

There are 144 mammals in Arizona, out of which only 20 - 25 mammals are spotted often. Some of them are opossums, shrews, bats, lagomorphs, rodents, carnivorans, and even toed ungulates.

28 species of bats live in the Sonoran Desert region, including the big brown bat, California leaf nosed bat, cave myotis bat, Peter's ghost faced bat, greater mastiff bat, lesser long nosed bat, Mexican free tailed bat, silver haired bat, spotted bat, Townsend's big eared bat, western pipistrelle Bat, western red bat, and the pallid bat.

The Mexican free tailed bat is the most common bat in the world.

The Kartchner Caverns in southern Arizona have the highest number of bats.

Oppsums are pretty rare in the western parts of Arizona. But regular sightings have been reported in the eastern parts.

Crawford's gray shrew is found in almost all mountain regions of Arizona. The dwarf shrew is the smallest mammal in Arizona.

There are three species of cottontail rabbit in Arizona, namely the mountain cottontail, the eastern cottontail, and the desert cottontail.

Among the rat, species are the roof rat, the Hanover rat, the Norway rat, the Norwegian rat, the Parisian rat, the bushy tailed woodrat, and the white-throated woodrat. Did you know the apex predator in Arizona is a mammal, the Grizzly Bear?

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for animals in Arizona then why not take a look at facts about animals that eat grass, or animals that lay eggs?

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Written by Joan Agie

Bachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

Joan Agie picture

Joan AgieBachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.

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