Fauna

Most of the animals in the park are not seen on a regular basis, although there is quite a variety of them.  We’ve seen the javelinas (collared peccaries) on several occasions.  And recently we’ve started seeing cottontail rabbits.  The javelinas are shy, but can sometimes be seen early on quiet mornings.

001 Hueco Tanks  - 006 Javelinas - Version 3.jpg


There are apparently raccoons, coyotes, Aoudad (or Barbary) Sheep, various kinds of rats, and the occasional bob cat or mountain lion.  There is evidence all over the park of the presence of the coyotes, sheep and javelinas.

One sign of javelinas is prickly pears that have been eaten.  This is also an indicator of weather conditions:  javelinas eat prickly pears only in times of drought.    

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We have discovered that it pays to go to the park at different times of day to see the greatest variety of wildlife.  On a day when we left the park just before closing we finally saw a family of Aoudads (also known as Barbary Sheep) who live in the park.  The Aoudads are reminiscent of bighorn sheep, but are actually native to North Africa.  Based on where we’ve seen their droppings, these animals are quite agile on the rocks.

We saw what was apparently a family of three - two parents and a youngster.  We figured out that the one was young because it had not yet figured out how to jump the fence, which is only 3-4 feet high.  It might not have been able to go over the fence, but it could definitely go under!

As we’ve said before, you never know what you will see in the park.  Did you ever think you’d see a toad?  We didn’t.  But just a few minutes after a torrential downpour, one of the people in our tour group saw this guy - a red-spotted toad - one of two varieties of toad found in the park.

The next question is, of course, how did we figure that out?  This toad is clearly covered in mud.  But when we zoomed in on the photo, we were able to see the red spots on its side.  Here is a link so that you can see what the toad would look like without the mud coating:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-spotted_toad

We have included a video that showcases the simultaneous mating calls of both of the species of toads that can be found in the park.  This happened just after a major rainfall event.  We have also finally been able to get a photo of an adult Couch’s Spadefoot. 

We encountered a bat in Comanche Cave, in late morning.  It looked like it was either sick or had been injured.  There are many species of bats in the park, but this one was pretty easy to identify, because of the size of its ears: a Townsend’s Big-eared Bat.

We would not want to forget to present a couple of the very personable rodents we’ve found in the park.  First is the chipmunk-sized Texas Antelope Ground Squirrel.  The second is a Rock Squirrel, which is similar in size to the gray squirrel we are all familiar with.  A key identifying mark on the Rock Squirrel is the white circle around the eyes.  Photos of these and other animals mentioned are in the photo album.  We have also seen a pack rat, although we were not able to get photos of it.  

Sometimes someone in the park gets really lucky with their animal sightings.  In November, 2014, campground host Phyllis Lavender saw the Bobcat in the photo below.

101 5648edited Bobcat


Another lucky day was June 26, 2017.  It had rained hard the night before (the park got two inches of rain in one hour), so there was lots of water.  Every toad in the park found the water and they were busy mating.  It is quite a noisy process, as you can hear in the amphibian video.  This time we got to see the mating process both in Laguna Prieta, and another lake between East Mountain and the Spur.  At the second location we were able to catch a photograph of a toad with its air sac inflated, which is how they make noise.  It is easy to tell if both species are out mating because one sounds like a bawling calf and the other like a noise-maker.



© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com