A list that covers every potentially dangerous animal in the desert would be at least twice as long, but here are five to watch out for:
Reptiles (Mojave green rattlesnake)
With the diamond-shaped pattern on its back, brown or pale green color and its signature rattle, it’s not difficult to spot this venomous viper. Some rattlesnakes can grow up to seven feet in length, but Mojave greens tend to only grow to about three feet or so. Though all rattlesnakes found in the desert are venomous, the Mojave green is distinguished by its combination of neurotoxic and hemotoxic venom, making it one of the deadliest snakes in the U.S. But the snakes avoid humans whenever possible and feed on a diet of squirrels, mice and rats. “Rattlesnakes are misunderstood,. “They are largely surrounded by lore and myth. Most people who sustain bites stepped near or on (the snake), or were trying to handle the animal or kill it.”
Spiders (Tarantula hawk)
Despite the name, this is no bird: It’s a wasp that feeds on tarantulas and hunts its victims stealthily, like a hawk. The wasp wins the battle, and what happens next sounds like something out of an “Alien” movie. The wasp paralyzes the spider and drags it back to its nest, implanting an egg inside the spider. That’s only the beginning. The wasp’s larva hatches and eats the spider from the inside out, making sure to avoid all organs in order to keep the tarantula alive as long as possible. When the offspring is grown, it bursts out of the spider, only to one day repeat the cycle on another crawly. They aren’t deadly to humans and generally leave us alone, but should someone provoke the insect, the sting is reportedly so painful that it causes three minutes of agony with no relief. All there is to do is scream
Many desert and mountain residents are fearful of mountain lions. They are more likely to take farm animals or pets. As the name implies, they dwell in mountain and foothill areas and are rarely seen at lower elevations. If you spot one, contact your local animal control agency to safely relocate the animal. “Animals don’t understand property, fencing, pets or children. All they are interested in is surviving,”.
Brown recluse spiders are not indigenous to our state, as proven by studies from the University Of California, Riverside. But two other recluse species, the desert recluse and Chilean recluse, are High Desert dwellers. As the name implies, they are reclusive and don’t bother humans. But unsuspecting contact can result in bites that dissolve human tissue and red blood cells. Such an encounter is largely non-fatal but can lead to health concerns and sickness if left untreated. It’s the same story with the black widow, which loves to inhabit garages and tool sheds. A bite is unlikely unless the spider is accidentally handled, sat on, or intentionally played with. The pitch-black spider is easily identifiable with its red hourglass shape on the abdomen. Bites can be fatal to small children and animals, but again, those circumstances are rare.
Bugs (Kissing bug)
These bloodsucking insects are found in lower parts of California, including the High Desert. According to the UC Davis website, they are attracted in lights in homes. They are identifiable by their orange and black body and their bites are painless and usually occur at night. They bite around the mouth, which is where they get their name. Such contact results in a welt that can last for days. “In addition, some reason people can develop an allergic reaction to the bites,”. They are also called cone-nose bugs because of their shape. The same bugs in Latin America can cause Chagas disease, which can be fatal. But no species known to cause the disease are here in California.