Arches National Park

Wildlife
Gorp.com

The landscape of Arches, for all of its spareness, provides life's necessities for a variety of animals that have adapted to meet its demands. Sixty-five species of mammals, 190 bird species, 22 reptiles, 9 amphibians, 8 fish, and many insects live here.

Most desert mammals hunt in the early morning and evening hours to avoid the intense desert sun. About one-third of the area's mammals are rodents, which include squirrels, packrats, chipmunks, and porcupines. Typically, rodents spend the daylight hours in their burrows. Desert cottontails and black-tailed jackrabbits are also more active at dawn and dusk.

Mule deer are the most commonly seen large mammals in the park, especially in the Devils Garden area. Fawns and weak adults provide a food base for the park's large predators: coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions. The two species of cat are very elusive.

If you are lucky, you may spot solitary coyotes foraging either day or night. The coyotes' predations help maintain a natural balance among animal populations in the park. Late in the evening, the yips and howls of one coyote are frequently answered by a chorus of others.

Resource protection programs within Arches and Canyonlands National Parks have dramatically increased opportunities for visitors to glimpse the magnificent desert bighorn. The Moab Fault Overlook and along Highway 191 near the park entrance are particularly good places to watch for them. During the breeding season (November through January), extremely fortunate observers may see rams engage in head-butting contests to establish their dominance over the herd.

Of the lizards, the western whiptail (its tail is more than twice the length of its body) is most common. The western collared lizard is very striking, with bright green coloring and a distinctive black collar.

Arches is home to a variety of poisonous animals, including rattlesnakes, scorpions, and black widow spiders. Always watch where you're walking and never put your hand on a surface you cannot see.


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