Tuesday, January 31, 2006

An Irrational Fear of Desert Critters?

As the fellow who maintains the CivanoNeighbors.com website, I often see general queries about the Community of Civano in southeast Tucson, where I live. Here's one such recent query, and my response, followed by a newish poem not quite along these lines, but related:

Scorpion in ultraviolet light.Query

Not sure if you are the right source, but if not please refer my questions. Saw a story about Civano in a magazine yesterday; I'm curious about pets in the town (specifically dogs) and whether the yards can be fenced. Also, what natural critters are there for human animals and animals; such as snakes, spiders, scorpions, etc. Please elaborate. What I share my home territory with will significantly influence my decision to relocate there. Finally, please elaborate on the natural "events" most likely to occur in Civano, such as fires, thunderstorms, floods, etc. Thanks. Looking forward to a response.

Tarantula hawk.My Response

Hi,

All yards in Civano are walled, usually uncovered brown block or stucco-covered block, though sometimes corrugated metal for effect, or adobe.

Natural critters? Depends on the context. We have the full gamut of desert critters: rattlesnakes, scorpions, black widows, tarantulas, tarantula hawks, coyotes, gila monsters, javalinas, bobcats, ringtails, kit foxes, and mountain lions. Of those, rattlesnakes and black widows are definitely the most common, though there are mountain lion sightings annually it seems now. Rattlesnakes specifically are seen around the neighborhood, sometimes in yards, probably a dozen times or more each spring, summer, and fall. No bites that I'm aware of yet, though. Domestic cats that live outside---which is strongly discouraged---often become prey of coyotes. Disappearances are not uncommon. Common sense and a bit of knowledge is good defense against all desert critters.

We are adjacent to Pantano Wash, which is a natural and major thoroughfare for wildlife. Most of us are very excited about that.

Western diamondback rattlesnake.Natural "events" are primarily the heat: 110 degrees every now and then in the summer, and violent summer thunderstorms---though widely spread---can cause flash floods. Civano is well above the floodplain, though at these times access to Civano on both major and minor roads can become disrupted.

Wildfires in the mountains have been more and more common, though again, that's fairly far from our neighborhood.

Finally, being the Sonoran desert, cacti and other pointy plants like ocotillo and agave are all around.

If any of those make you overly nervous, Civano and in fact southern Arizona in general probably isn't a good fit for you. Most of us are delighted by our chance encounters with these things, though.

Good luck in your decision,

Simmons

3 comments:

Greg said...

Thanks for the link. And I'm glad you did. I thoroughly enjoyed the letter and poem. Quite a different world to my New England. I've seen an eastern coyote or two around these parts, but never the rest. I'm headed to Arizona come March, my first trip to the SW ever. I'll be in the northeast regions though. Doing the tourist loop of Sedona, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, and Petrified Forest. What spirits may I encounter? Can I wear my beard? Does the sun ever go down? The answers to these questions will determine whether I travel incognito or not. Thanks for the read.

Simmons B. Buntin said...

You'll see some spirits for sure up there: collared lizards and elk, most likely. Maybe a buzzard or two. Wear the beard, for your protection and ours. The sun does go down in March---actually, it'll be pretty chilly up there then, especially in the evening. Have a great trip; you'll see some stunning scenery.

JohnnyAZ said...

Wow. Simmons, "Shine" is haunting, complete, absolutely beautiful. This is the kind of poem that keeps me reading poetry. Beautiful.

Eric Van Meter