Monday, July 12, 2010

Desert Critters: July 12, 2010

Life here in the desert is not all about snakes although two of my recent posts may have suggested that.

In a previous post I mentioned our Dove Family raising no less than three new families each summer in a big Mesquite tree in our backyard oasis.  

Baby Doves in Mesquite Tree

Our cat, Ayla, spends much of every summer day sitting on the front window sill (indoors) playing with a collared lizard who lives on the other side of the glass (outdoors). I honestly believe he is well aware that she cannot get him and he spends his days on that windowsill looking in teasing and taunting her. I know this because I can see the gleam in his eyes and the smirk on his face. :-D


For the past three days I have been assailed by a horrible smell coming from my freshly cleaned and painted laundry room. What could this mysterious odor be? This room, although it shares a roof with the house and carport is its own separate space, not connected to the house other than by the roof.  When I am working out there or doing laundry I leave the door propped open, always being careful to close it when I am done.
Today I carefully searched for the source of this smell and found this fellow - a petrified toad - laying motionless and quite dead in a back corner of the room. I swept him up and rather unceremoniously dumped him in our desert front yard. I doubt that either the resident Turkey vultures or the crows will eat him but I am quite certain the army of big black ants will make very good use out of his lifeless form.

These toads, known around here as Colorado River toads,  spend their summers in the desert eating zillions of bugs. They release a toxin through their skin which protects them from would-be predators which means we have to hope our dogs never try to catch one as this toxin can be lethal. When the toads are deprived of water in which to spend part of each day soaking and drinking they shrivel up and die. This is what happened to this poor unfortunate granddaddy toad who inadvertently got caught in my laundry room and thus met his demise.

The Sonoran Desert in summer may be hotter than !@#$%^ but it is never boring.  



  1. Hi Lindy,
    I have read most of your posts and can see that you and I have many similar interests. I love all the critter pictures--I take joy in seeing interactions of cross-species, such as your cat and the lizard. Congratulations on retiring and on the acquisition of your land in MI. No more rattlesnakes--Yes. I doubt that I would have had the courage to kill the snake. I basically like and respect snakes, as you do, but agree that something had to be done or your animals might die. It's great that you could document that drama on your blog.

  2. Hi, Maria. We don't have TV - don't need TV. We have the critters - domestic and wild - for daily entertainment. They never cease to amaze me. I could stand at my kitchen window for hours and watch the goings-on. There is a large Gambel Quail family (would love to get pics. but those guys never stop moving:), lots of doves, zillions of tiny finches, a couple of hummers, aggressive Cactus wrens, enough rabbits to make all the local coyotes very happy, spiders, bees, and of course, snakes. I really enjoy watching snakes. However, if my husband had been home on rattlesnake day I would have found him - QUICKLY - announced - LOUDLY -, "Rattler in backyard on patio" and run into the house with the dogs. With only me at home that day I had no choice but to do the poor fellow in. :(