Arizona Critters

by Michael Yeager

We had our first rattlesnake encounter since we moved back to Arizona last November. Katie and I were out walking at around dusk the other night. The rattler was lying with its head and about one quarter of its body up on the sidewalk.

Katie saw it first and let out a short, high pitched shriek. This startled me and we both jumped off the sidewalk and out into the street. If a car had been coming we would both be dead.

I shined the flashlight back on the snake and he wasn’t fazed by our theatrics one bit. His body was stretched out straight and he had a calm look in his eyes. The rest of the walk home we vigilantly scanned the sidewalk with our flashlight. I had to walk on the inside toward the properties while Katie walked on the street side. She decided she would rather be hit by a car than be bit on the ankle by a snake.

One of the things I like about Green Valley is all the critters we share the desert with. On our walks we see multitudes of rabbits, quail, road runners and all sorts of other birds, lizards, javelinas and occasionally the predators like hawks, bobcats, coyotes, owls and snakes.

Recently in the Green Valley News there was a story about a Coopers Hawk that was harassing people who walked near or under the tree where she had a nest. The reaction of the management was to put yellow caution tape around the area and a sign warning people about the problem.

I liked the comments and reaction of the author of the news article. This person said basically that one of the things that makes living in the Sonoran Desert so special was the abundance of plant and animal life. He went on to say we all need to learn how to live with the wild creatures and not consider them as pests to be managed or eradicated.

Occasionally we hear about a cat or small dog that goes missing. It is always assumed that the animal became lunch for one of the predators. Invariably the consensus of the residents is that it was too bad, but the owner needed to be more mindful about his pet.

While looking for property down here, we met a real estate agent who told us he doesn’t go for walks and keeps his house and especially garage very tightly closed up, “There are just too many things that can get you out there.” Maybe he was from New York City, which to me is a far more dangerous place to go walking.

The critters here don’t want anything to do with us humans. The only time they are a threat is if we happen to stumble upon one and it feels cornered or we step right on it. At the museum the curator told us that the majority of snake bite victims were young males who were either taunting the snake or trying to kill it.

All that said, Katie and I are still going start our walks early so that we can be safely home before dark

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