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The Great
Great Southwest

Great Southwest

Deserts are not deserted by wildlife. They are places of little rain and much sun, and are home to a surprising variety of plants and animals. In order to survive the extremes of the desert climate, life forms have developed unique adaptations for conserving water and avoiding the intense heat.

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Ringtail Great Southwest


Bassariscus astutus

Biome: Great Southwest

Classification: Mammals

Biography: Ringtails are relatives of the raccoon and inhabit desert canyons, especially areas with rocky outcrops, caves and mine shafts. Strictly nocturnal, ringtails use their large eyes and keen sense of smell to locate food, including rodents, birds, invertebrates, and plant... More >

Roadrunner Great Southwest


Geococcyx californianus

Biome: Great Southwest

Classification: Birds

Biography: Roadrunners are long, slender birds with long expressive tails, shaggy crests and strong legs for running. These birds are known for their swift and characteristic style of running (up to 15 mph for short distances). They seldom fly and are primarily a ground bird. In the... More >

Swift Fox Great Southwest

Swift Fox

Vulpes velox

Biome: Great Southwest

Classification: Mammals

Biography: Speedy yet sly! The swift fox weighs less then 8 pounds, but can run more than 37 miles per hour! While it relies on stealth and surprise to hunt prey, its speed enables it to catch jackrabbits. In addition to rabbits, they will eat anything available, from rodents and... More >

Tarantula Great Southwest


Aphonopelma chalcodes

Biome: Great Southwest

Classification: Invertebrates

Biography: While the tarantula is a fearsome looking spider and it can inflict a painful bite, the bite of our North American species is not really dangerous. Tarantulas can go for a long period of time without food and water - a useful ability during desert droughts. Large beetles... More >

Thick-billed Parrot Great Southwest

Thick-billed Parrot

Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha

Biome: Great Southwest

Classification: Birds

Biography: Thick-billed parrots are social birds, and live together in flocks all year. Their loud calls can be heard over a mile away. Thick-billed parrots require the specialized habitat of a mature pine-oak forest for nesting and food. These parrots build their nests in snags or... More >

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