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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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Sidewinder Rattlesnake Great Southwest

Sidewinder Rattlesnake

Crotalus cerastes

Biome: Great Southwest

Classification: Reptiles

Biography: The venomous sidewinder is nicknamed the horned rattler for the upturned scales over each eye. These hornlike scales fold down to protect the eyes when the snake is moving through sand and burrows. A sidewinder uses a unique sideways form of locomotion. With its body moving... More >

Great Southwest

Spotted Skunk

Spilogale putorius

Biome: Great Southwest

Classification: Mammals

Biography: When threatened, a spotted skunk first stomps its front feet, hisses, and performs a series of handstands. If the warning fails, the skunk drops to the ground, lifts its tail, and shoots a foul-smelling liquid. The distinctive spray can accurately reach its target from over... 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 >

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake Great Southwest

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Crotalus atrox

Biome: Great Southwest

Classification: Reptiles

Biography: This is the largest of the western rattlesnakes. Due to its distinctive black and white tail bands, it is often nicknamed the "coontail rattler". This venomous pit viper frequents a variety of habitats in the arid regions of the southwest, from the plains into the... More >

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