Things get wild at Dove Mountain
Meet some of the area’s creatures of the night.
The Dove Mountain community is surrounded by beautiful desert terrain featuring towering saguaros and an assortment of cacti, desert trees, brush, and wildflowers. It’s a habitat perfect for javelinas (often described as a hippopotamus-pig hybrid), bobcats (a relative to the cold-weather lynx), and coyotes (sometimes called the American Jackal).
Javelinas are fascinating creatures
Javelinas, who’ll reach a weight of 40-50 pounds, rest in the shade during the day and eat insects, grubs, and vegetation during nighttime and into the early morning. Among their favorite snacks is prickly pear fruit ripening in late summer. They are also notorious for snacking on unprotected ornamental plants in residential gardens.
They keep their distance
Dove Mountain residents know not to interact with javelinas because they can act aggressively when defending their territory and young. Thankfully (or not), javelinas have a “distinct” odor that lets you know they are near. And like all wildlife, they work hard to avoid humans.
Javelinas use their scent glands, located on their hindquarters, to rub against the necks of other group members to quickly identify one another in the wild.
Bobcats are local celebrities
To many, bobcats are local celebrities in Dove Mountain. Whenever a photo is posted of one lounging in shrubs near the golf course, drinking out of a backyard fountain, or sunning itself on the patio, the local social media sites tend to be abuzz with admirers.
Bobcats are beautiful and distinguished by their short bobtail, tufted ears, and orange-ish brown coloring. They tend to be relatively small, weighing between 15 and 30 pounds. Bobcats enjoy warmer climates, unlike their cold-weather lynx relatives.
They keep snake and rodent populations down
Bobcats are carnivores. In the wild, their food of choice is rabbits, but they also eat lizards, rodents, and snakes. Like a mountain lion, bobcats ambush their prey by waiting motionless and pouncing on it.
Respecting their space is important
Bobcats can be unknowingly lured by residents into their backyard. For example, if birdseed is left on the ground attracting rodents, bobcats may follow. And if pet food is left outdoors, an opportunistic bobcat may eat it and return for more. These situations will harm a bobcat by encouraging scavenging rather than hunting, which is a vital outdoor survival skill.
Like javelinas, bobcats are most active in the darkness of the evening and early morning hours when they are less likely to interact with humans.
Coyotes live in Dove Mountain, too
There are few places in North America where a coyote does not live. That’s because they are highly adaptable by eating a wide range of food. In Dove Mountain, coyotes live in the desert scrub and foothills and will be seen from time to time in neighborhoods.
There’s an abundance of food for them in the Tortolita foothills, including mice, lizards, insects, cactus fruit, mesquite beans, rabbits, birds, and snakes. If hunting in packs, coyotes will also hunt larger prey like deer.
It’s best to discourage “wiley” behavior
Coyotes are less likely to come into a neighborhood where dogs are kept on leashes, cats are not roaming freely, and where pet food and trash containers are hard to raid. It’s also wise to pick up ripe fruit and seeds on the ground that are also attractive to both coyotes and the rodents they eat.
Meet your “neighbors” at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum!
Seeing javelina, bobcat, or coyote is definitely not an everyday occurrence at Dove Mountain, but when it happens, it is memorable.
To view them, without having a sometimes long-awaited chance encounter, visit the remarkable Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum. It’s a world-renowned, all-in-one zoo, aquarium, natural history museum, botanical garden and art gallery just 40 minutes west of Dove Mountain.
About the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is widely recognized throughout the world as a model institution for its innovative presentation of native plants and animals featured together in ecological exhibits. The Museum is regularly listed as one of the top ten zoological parks in the world due to its unique approach in interpreting the complete natural history of a single region (in our case, the Sonoran Desert and adjacent ecosystems). This represents a significant achievement, as the Museum’s collections and size are smaller than many of its counterparts. Not a “museum” in the usual sense, it is an unparalleled composite of plant, animal, and geologic collections with the goal of making the Sonoran Desert accessible, understandable, and valued.