Four-Legged and No-Legged Critters in My Backyard

Bt Dan Weisz

By living in the Foothills, we all have the privilege of seeing some wonderful desert wildlife on a regular basis.  Over the past two weeks I’ve had some interesting, and typical, visitors to my yard.  This white tailed deer doe appeared, stopped for a few minutes and then went on her way.

She was alert but calm and she looked just like the deer that had visited my yard the past few years.  I noticed the two notches in her right ear and looked back at some old photosl

In April of 2018, she was a visitor and the same two notches were evident.

Then last year she visited again in June, and the same features were evident:

For whatever reason, my house and neighborhood is part of her spring/summer range.  I’m sure it helps that I have water available in the yard.  It is always a treat to see her.

I know we have snakes around but I rarely see them.  Last week a Common Kingsnake wandered through the back.  These are great snakes to have around as they help with the packrat population and will also kill and eat young rattlesnakes!

I was surprised to see the snake come to one of the water dishes and begin to drink.  Thanks to a few friends (Jeff S., Jeff. B., and Rene C.) I learned that snakes do drink water.  They get some liquid from their prey but need to drink intermittently when water is available.  Water is used in the digestive process.  In the photo below, you can see the ripples in the water from the snake’s jaw and body slowly working to bring the water in through the same hole that the snake pushes its tongue through.

Periodically the snake would put its tongue into the water. Snakes use their tongue to “smell” the air in search of prey.  The snake was ’tasting’ the water in the same manner.  After drinking for a very long time, the kingsnake moved on.  I watched it travel under a jojoba plant, pause for a bit at a pile of leaves, and then move forward quickly.  As soon as that “lunge” occurred, a pack rat scurried away hurriedly from the brush and into a nearby hole in the ground.  It escaped this time!

The final visitor, or visitors, was a large herd of Javelina.  They are common in the area but irregular visitors to my yard.  This adult almost looks cute, maybe…

Within the very large herd, there were definitely some very cute young javelinas.  This one and its brother wandered from its mother safely in the large group.

And then it realized it was further from its mother than it wanted to be.

Feeding time!!!

Spring time is a wonderful time in the desert.

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