Order: Rodentia

Rats and mice are among the most successful mammal groups on Earth

Dear Foothills Residents,
There have been reports of sightings of wildlife, for example, javelinas and coyotes on the sidewalks, landscape and driveways in the community recently. Please keep an eye out for your children, family and guests if they are outside. If spotted, you may contact AZ Wildlife & Game Dept. at 602-942-3000.
Thank you, Mxxxxx Rxxxxx
Administrative Assistant
Rossmar & Graham |
This email came with the subject heading Reports of Sightings of Wildlife. Some neighbors must have called the HOA after seeing critters outside. Not the first thing I would do, but hey – you know me. I’d go see if I could get a picture, and then I’d sit down and blog about it, so you all could share in the wonder of wildlife.
People do lose cats and even small dogs to great horned owls and coyotes. This is not a good area to let pets wander. The Foothills are smack between South Mountain and the open lands of the Gila Reservation. Our lush backyards, our water features, the food we put outside for our pets and the seeds some folks scatter to feed the birds have made this paradise for a rich assortment of wild animals, who by the way – were here first.
There is another class of animals that the HOA has neglected to warn us about. The other evening my hubby saw three rats running along our block wall right next to the garage. I pulled out my Natural History of the Sonoran Desert to learn more. It turns out there is a large variety of mice, shrews and rats busily carrying on their lives all around us. Most of them are kinda cute. Bailey’s pocket mouse and the Merriam’s kangaroo rat are darling, and packrats are fascinating animals worthy of a blog of their own. However, the three marauders that M saw were fist-size, and had long ratty tails. (Scary,huh?) What is truly scary is that rats breed prolifically, with some species producing 8-10 litters a year. And their teeth grow day in and day out so must be kept worn down with constant gnawing. Can you imagine the state of our structures, wiring, irrigation systems and landscaping if we didn’t have coyotes, great horned owls, red-tailed hawks, and yes, even rattlesnakes to keep these populations in check? Keep your little dogs and kitties inside when it’s dark, and really, I’m pretty sure Grandma is safe to walk around the block.


7 responses to “Order: Rodentia

  1. I have the greatest respect for all living things, even the obnoxious mosquito….BUT I do believe in keeping the balance. If we won’t let wildlife do the job they were designed to do, we will suffer the results with unbelievable damage wrought by too many rodent teeth needing to be worn away….I speak from experience and I champion the predator….do I sound harsh and mean? I hope not! Everything in a balance….my mantra.

  2. There is a mystery in my back yard that I have been trying to solve. Under the corner of my hot tub there is a collection of what looks like dried out turds…..about 3 – 4 inches long, an appx an inch in width. My son examined the contents, hair and grass. I don’t have any animals in my back yard that would poop something this size!!! What the heck is dragging whatever this is (not even sure it is poop) to this one tidy little collection under my hot tub???

    • Various desert critters will put others’ dung at the entrance to their burrow to discourage predators. Burrowing owls are famous for this, and isn’t that smart! But is there a burrow under there? I think pack rats also collect stuff to add to their nest, but again you would see the big sticklike nest….and they like shiny stuff. I am sorry I don’t know the answer to your mystery. What you describe could also sounds like a cat’s hair ball! Oh dear.

  3. Agreed! We’re all here for a purpose. Well, there are a few exceptions (scorpions, per se?). Can you blog about the wonder and environmental importance of the scorpion? 🙂

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