When most people think about the desert, they imagine barren landscapes with little to no living creatures. While it’s true that life in this ecosystem can be difficult, a wide variety of animals have found a way to adapt and thrive in the famed Nevada desert.
Wild horses are the most commonly seen animals in the desert while on our amazing Las Vegas ATV tour, but our tour of the area could also have you catching a glimpse at one of the many other creatures that populate the region. Here’s a list of some of the critters you could end up seeing:
These hardy members of the canine family are present in ecosystems throughout North America, including many urban centers. Resembling domestic dogs, you’ll notice that coyotes have long legs, bushy tails, and longer wolf-like snouts compared to the pups we keep as pets. As pack animals, spotting one coyote often means that others are nearby, especially when they’re hunting prey.
About twice the size of your average house cat, these spotted felines are longer limbed than their domestic cousins, and feature distinctive tufts on their ears. While bobcats are plentiful in the desert, they’re experts at remaining concealed in rocky areas, and you should count yourself lucky if you manage to spot one.
Preyed upon by both the coyotes and bobcats of the desert, the blacktailed jackrabbit is an incredibly fast mammal that can live in the harshest desert conditions, and they remain out in the open in order to spot approaching predators.
A lizard that can reach more than one foot long from nose to tail, these desert residents can range from sandy brown to more colorful varieties (especially among males) featuring yellow and orange patches. You can expect to spot these reptiles sunbathing on rocks in the morning, except in colder months when they may go into hibernation.
This reptile has two claims to fame as both the largest reptile in the Mojave desert, and Nevada’s state reptile. With a shell that can grow up to 14 inches in length, these scaly-legged creatures might look intimidating, but they’re actually quite gentle herbivores. As a state protected and threatened species, it’s especially important to respect the space of these slow-moving reptiles.
A rattlesnake named for its side-winding movements, these small snakes are venomous, but generally less dangerous than larger rattlers. The sidewinder remains buried in the sand when at rest, popping out to feast on desert rodents or smaller lizards.
Perhaps the most adorable animal you might spot in the desert, burrowing owls can be found in the Nevada desert during their breeding time in the summer months. Much smaller than the more famous species of owl, their average size is from 7.5 to 11 inches in length, only slightly larger than the average robin. Unlike most owls, these birds are active during the day, and you may spot their golden eyes in the desert landscape where they sit perched waiting for food. At night, the burrowing owl calls the ground home, where they nest in (you guessed it) burrows!