collared peccary walking in a park in tucson

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Does the thought of a rattlesnake make you uneasy? Do tarantulas give you the heebie-jeebies?

With its harsh sun and prickly cacti, the Arizona desert might not be everyone’s idea of a tranquil paradise. 

But let me paint you a different picture. A picture of Arizona’s desert, not as a barren wasteland but as a vibrant, living ecosystem full of life.

Sure, rattlesnakes and tarantulas might give you the creeps. But what if I told you there’s a method to their madness?

  • Rattlesnakes help cut down on packrat damage.
  • Tarantulas help keep insect populations in check.
  • Javelina promote plant diversity by eating fruit and spreading seeds with their droppings.

Living in sync with Arizona’s desert critters is about embracing three simple habits.

Tighten up your trash game

Desert dwellers like coyotes and javelina have a nose for garbage, and they turn into nuisances if they get their paws or hooves on it.

A late-night snack raid at your rubbish bin might be funny in cartoons. But in reality, it leads to unnecessary conflicts with wildlife.

Lock your trash cans up tight, and don’t leave food or trash out overnight.

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The desert tarantula. Often maligned in movies, books, and on TV. But they’re docile and would rather run from you than bite you.

Get to know your wild neighbors

Take a moment to learn about the creatures you share your space with. You’ll start to understand their behavior and see the world from their perspective. 

Not only can this knowledge help you steer clear of potential run-ins, but it can also ease your fears as you understand why wildlife does what it does.

Coachwhip snake. Non-venomous and not a threat to humans. Although they do get feisty if you try to pick them up!

Be aware of your surroundings

It might sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many tales I could tell about folks who had a close encounter with desert wildlife that could’ve been avoided with some alertness. 

One story? A lady stepped on a rattlesnake because she was too busy texting to notice the snake sunbathing on the warm asphalt. She got bit and spent her day in the emergency room.

The Arizona desert might seem like a harsh, unforgiving place. 

But once you get to know it and its inhabitants, you learn it’s a fascinating, interconnected ecosystem. 

The critters that call it home aren’t our foes. They’re important pieces of a complex web of life.

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