We get A LOT of questions about wildlife in Arizona.
“What kind of wildlife do you have? Will I see any? Do I need to be scared?”
Today I’m sharing a list of wildlife in Arizona, and the 5 animals I see most often, living in North Phoenix.
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Arizona is Wild!
So, depending on where you’re from, you may or may not be surprised to hear that Arizona is home to a TON of wildlife. Even though the desert is dry and hot, it is a happy home to many different species of animals.
Before I start, I want to say a big thank you to my partner Carolynn and to the Arizona Game & Fish Department for all the amazing information that made this video possible. Even though I live here and I have seen my fair share of wildlife, I had no idea just how many different animals we had here. Seriously, it’s crazy! I will include a link to the Arizona Game & Fish Department website along with a number of other references at the end of this post, so you can read even more about these animals.
Also, in the interest of time, we will be focusing only on mammals, which means we won’t be touching on insects, spiders, reptiles, bats, turtles or birds. All of those could be their own video topics, there are so many. Earlier this year we did a video on scorpions. If you would like to check that out, you can click here.
Additionally, it is important to note that Arizona is really big and it varies from mountains and deep canyons in the norther region to the Sonoran desert flatlands in the south. Annual precipitation days range from approximately 70 in Flagstaff to 15 in Yuma. We won’t bore you with the statistics but suffice it to say that the wildlife in the cooler and wetter regions of Northern Arizona is totally different from the wildlife in Southern Arizona.
So don’t be surprised if you move to Phoenix and never see a bear… just sayin!
The best way to see wildlife in Arizona is to get out in nature and go for a hike, so at the end of this post we will be sharing a link to our free guide: 10 Tips for Hiking in the Sonoran Desert, so stick around.
What do we have?
First let’s talk about the animals that we have here in Arizona:
#1 Mountain Lions
You may also hear them referred to as cougars, pumas, or panthers. These majestic and scary cats can grow up to 145lbs but tend to be smaller in hotter climates… thank goodness! If you are living in an area where mountain lions are common or if you plan to go hiking in an area where they are common, I strongly recommend that you read the safety instructions provided by the Arizona Game & Fish Department. I will link to that at the bottom of this post.
This one totally shocked me! I had no idea that we had jaguars in Arizona. Jaguars are extremely rare in the United States and even more so in Arizona. They are endangered. That being said, there has been a reported sighting as recently as January 2019. How cool is that?
#3 Lynx rufus or Felis rufus
What is that? Good question. That is the fancy way to say bobcat, and we definitely have our share of bobcats here in Arizona! In fact, they are the most common wildcat in Arizona. They weigh about 12-13lbs and are 2-2.5 ft in length.
If you’re having a tough day, look up baby ocelots on google. Sadly, the ocelot is endangered. The ocelot is native to the southwest United States, Mexico and Central America.
#5 Bighorn Sheep
Conservationists have worked really hard to preserve and grow the Bighorn Sheep population in Arizona and they are doing a great job.
These are often referred to as antelope, and we have 3 different species here.
Yup, that’s right. We have wild horses in Arizona and they are beautiful! Although I have never been, I hear that you can often see them along the Salt River.
We have Donkeys in Arizona and although you may not see them often, you are reminded that they are here, by the ‘Donkey Crossing’ signs you see around.
If you’re in Arizona, there is a good chance you will see or hear a coyote. The best place to spot a coyote is at the Gila River Arena during hockey season. Just kidding! In all seriousness, wild coyotes are very common. If you are living here with small pets, I strongly recommend that you read the recommendations provided by Arizona Game & Fish, so that you are aware of any potential health and safety risks. I will link to that at the bottom of this post.
#10 Mexican Wolf
Sadly, these wolves are endangered in Arizona, so it is very unlikely that you would see one in the wild
Fun fact, even though a javelina looks a lot like a pig, it’s not. Javelinas are actually part of the peccary family. It is best to watch Javelina from a distance. They have very poor eyesight, so there is chance they could charge at you accidentally, when they are trying to get away. Also, they smell really bad, which means you might smell them before you see them.
#12 White-Tailed Deer
#13 Black Bear
We actually had an incident where a bear made it’s way into Anthem in May of 2018, but this is very uncommon.
#14 Coatimundi or Coatis
These are relatives of the racoon and can be found in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts.
Fun fact this is actually the State Mammal. The only place I have ever seen a ringtail is on my Arizona Drivers License, but I am sure they are out there. They are related to racoons and coatimundis.
#17 Spotted Skunk
We actually have 4 species of skunks in Arizona, including the spotted skunk, which is the only one that can climb trees.
We have 3 species of fox in Arizona. Of these the Gray Fox is the most common.
#19 Desert Cottontail
This is the proper name for the cute little bunnies you will see all over Arizona!
Now, as you can see, that is a very long list, and I’ve probably missed some. But like I said at the beginning of this video, not all of these animals are found in every part of the state.
Wildlife in Anthem, Arizona
We live in Anthem, Arizona, and part of the reason we chose Anthem is because it’s a bit closer to nature. This means that we get to see and live alongside a wider variety of wildlife than you might experience living in downtown Phoenix. So, here are the 5 animals that I see most often in Anthem:
Typically I will only see these if I am out for an early morning walk, but for a while my parents had one that frequented their yard with it’s babies. While I didn’t love watching the circle of life happening right in front of us, the babies were really cute.
Northwest of Anthem, near Circle Mountain, there is wide open desert. This is the best place I’ve been able to see Donkeys. They aren’t as common, but it is so fun when you get to see or hear them. I also saw donkeys when I was out at Lake Pleasant. If you’d like to check out our video on Lake Pleasant, click here.
I may not see coyotes everyday, but I probably hear them at least once a day. Our house backs on to a wash, so we are more likely to hear and see them, I also suspect that they have a den not too far from my house. Anyways, it is not uncommon to hear them howling at night.
I most often see javelinas around dusk near the golf course. Also, one thing to keep in mind, javelinas seem to LOVE pumpkins. If you put a pumpkin out for fall or Halloween, be warned that a javelina may run away with it. Also, if you wake up and your front yard looks dug up around the bases of the cacti, there’s a good chance that was a javelina eating dinner in your yard!
#5 Desert Cottontail
We have so many bunnies here in Anthem. If you drive by either golf course you can probably see them by the hundreds on any given day. Also, watch out when you are driving, because they don’t always make the smartest choices.
So, there you have it! What do you think? Would you like to live up here in Anthem a bit closer to nature, or do you prefer the city feel. I’d love to know what wildlife you’ve seen in nature either in Arizona or in your hometown, so let me know in the comments.
As I mentioned earlier, the best way to see wildlife in Arizona is hiking. If you’d like to download our free guide: 10 Tips for Hiking in the Sonoran Desert, simply click here!
See YOU, next Thursday!