The Peaceful Desert

Lets  start with Tuesday, the Alligator.  She had a  long life in Phoenix as a resident of the Phoenix Herpetological Society, meeting with over 300,000 school children as part of a campaign to increase awareness and  understanding of reptiles. She started life in a private home in California; her owner said she thought she was a dog!  She liked to be petted and to take car rides.  But by the time she had reached her full growth of 6 feet and 95 pounds, her owner decided she needed a new home. Tuesday was to go to an alligator farm where her owner could visit but on the way to the farm, the truck carrying Tuesday and 31 other alligators, illegally it turned out, was stopped by the Arizona Highway Patrol for a broken tail light and all  the alligators ended up in the herpetology society facility.  From there, Tuesday became a favorite, traveling to schools and public events for educational events.  She died of an unknown illness that the best alligator vets could not cure.  Her legacy is a scholarship  for children with disabilities like autism or visual problems.

Next, the endangered Chiricahua Leopard Frog  who lives in the small ponds and rivers of southeastern Arizona , and has lost approximately 80 percent of its habitat.  On top of that, the frog suffers from a skin fungus.  The fungus is spread when hunters and fishermen tramp between rivers and ponds, carrying the fungus spores with them, infecting  new waters. There are efforts to save the little frog however.  Arizona Game and Fish and the Phoenix Zoo have breeding  and pond cleaning programs that will  bring back the frogs.

The small Ringtail Cat with the black and white stripped bushy tail is Arizona’s state mammal. The tail is the same length as the body of  the mammal. Ringtails are nocturnal, coming out of their den at night to eat small mammels and fruit. And a den can be any dark hole.. A friend was sliding into her sleeping bag at the bottom of the Grand Canyon when two Ringtails hurried out! She’s not a fan!

Thirteen of the 36 species of rattlesnakes in the world live in Arizona but don’t worry.  Only about 1 percent of rattleback bites end in death; rattlesnakes don’t come after you unless you disturb them. Arizona’s reptile is the Ridgenosed Rattlesnake, so named because of the raised ridge of scales around its mouth.  It is one of four with special protection in Arizona.

The Albert or Ponderosa Pine squirrel is one of the five species of desert squirrels in Arizona. This tassel-eared  tree  squirrel was named after Colonel John James Albert, a naturalist and military colonel who organized  efforts to map the West. The Albert’s squirrels live in Ponderosa pine forests and eat the seeds and  inner bark of the trees.