Big Horn Sheep
Wildlife around the Hoover Dam
Bighorn Sheep, Nevada's Official State Animal, can easily be recognized by the male's large, curling horns (50 inches - 127 cm in length) and the female's straight horns (15 inches - 38 cm in length). The ringed horns grow one ring each year. These animals are in the wild sheep family, but they have a thick coat of hair instead of wool. They weigh between 175 and 350 pounds (79 to 158 kg). The elastic pads on their feet give them the agility and sure footedness needed to climb the rugged terrain.
The coyote looks much like a mid size thin dog weighing 20 to 50 pounds with a body length of 3 to 4 feet (1 to 1.3 m). Their coloring in the summer is a tan body, white belly, and rust colored legs. Their coloring changes to gray in the winter. While running up to 40 miles per hour (60 km per hour), their tail hangs between their legs. These meat eaters feed on rodents, rabbits, lizards, birds and anything else they may find. Therefore you may see them investigating the garbage bins.
The Antelope squirrel is one of the few desert animals that is active during the day . Its appearance is much like a chipmunk with white lines down both sides of its body. (Photo taken by Allan and Elaine Wilson.)
Rattlesnakes can be identified by their triangular shaped head and the heat sensing pit between the nostril and eye along with the rattle on the tail's end. The Grand Canyon rattlesnake has a pinkish skin with dark black blotches. They are a less aggressive snake especially when the ground temperature is above 78 degrees. Pictured is the Mojave rattlesnake that is extremely toxic with a venom that depresses the heart and lung and contains a tissue disintegration agent. Keeping a safe distance from them is wise.
One of two poisonous lizards in the world lives in the southwestern United States. The Gila Monster (18 to 24 inches or 46 to 61 cm in length) has a black background color that is marbled with pink, yellow, orange or white areas. They strike quickly, hang on to their victim tightly and chew the flesh to create a deep laceration. The toxic venom attacks the heart's nerve center. The bite can be fatal to people.
The Ring Tailed Cat is easily recognized by its distinguished looking white and black long ringed tail. The rocky canyon areas, like around the Hoover Dam, is their home. A unique feature of this cat is that when threatened, it can spray a foul smelling mist.
Scorpions are nocturnal, have eight legs and have a tail that curves upward toward the back. They have a segmented body and lobster like claws. There are two canyon species. The giant hairy scorpion is 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) long, has tan coloring and has a sting which is much like a bee sting. The bark scorpion is 2 inches (5 cm) long, has pale yellow coloring and has a sting that is painful but rarely deadly.
The tarantula has a 4 inch (10 cm) long body with brownish black coloring. It is a hairy spider that may look harmful, but it is not. They do not like to bite people, but if threatened they may bite in self defense. The bite feels much like a bee sting.