Joshua Tree National Park

A coyote in Joshua Tree National Park
A coyote in Joshua Tree National Park (Jeremy Woodhouse/Digital Vision/Getty)

Large mammals in the park include desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, and mountain lion. Bobcats are common as are many small animals. Approximately 350 vertebrate species inhabit the park. The most common are mice and wood rats, white-tailed antelope squirrel, chipmunk, coyote, black-tailed jackrabbit, and two species of fox. There are approximately a dozen species of bats. Invertebrates are also common, but little has been done to systematically inventory them. Two poisonous spiders are found—the black widow and the brown recluse. Another common spider is the nonpoisonous tarantula. Scorpions in the park range up to four inches in length and are among the less toxic varieties. Various centipedes, millipedes, and ticks can be found along with a multitude of other insects, including ants, beetles, dragonflies, and wasps.

Only the red-spotted toad and the California tree frog have been reported. Of many small lizards present, the side-blotched is the most common. Additionally, there are two horned lizards and 12 other species. There are 20 known species of snakes in the park.

Large numbers and varieties of birds (more than 270 different species) live in or fly through the park, which is adjacent to a major migratory flyway in the Coachella Valley. During stormy weather many areas are critical stopover sites for species such as loon, herons, egrets, grebes, and avocets. Birds most commonly seen in the park are the Gambel's quail, black-throated sparrow, scrub jay, common raven, roadrunner, and several wrens. Additionally, the park hosts both summer and winter migratory species. The oases seem to be important stopping places on the western flyway and have semiannual visits of large numbers of turkey vultures.

Species of Special Concern

The following are the endangered (E) or threatened (T) federally listed animal species that may live in Joshua Tree National Park:

southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) - E

peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) - E

unarmored threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni) - E

bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) - T

desert tortoise, Mojave Desert population (Gopherus agassizii) -T

Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard (Uma inornata) - T

The following species are proposed endangered or threatened or candidate species (C):

peninsular bighorn sheep (not to be confused with the unlisted desert bighorn, Ovis canadensis nelsonii, which is common in the park) - PE

mountain plover (Charadrius montanus) - C

Of the species listed, the desert tortoise is known to inhabit areas affected directly by the federal actions considered in this plan. The park's population is estimated at approximately 12,700 animals. Tortoise densities range from zero in rugged mountains to 240 per square mile in the Pinto Basin. Most areas of the park contain tortoises.

Published: 30 Jul 2009 | Last Updated: 9 Jun 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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