SWDesertHomes in Tucson, Marana, Oro Valley, Vail & More!: What "critters" do "Outdoor Activists" need to be Aware of?

What "critters" do "Outdoor Activists" need to be Aware of?

Rattlesnakes, Mountain Lions, Javelina, Scorpions and More!

Acclimating to living in Tucson and SW DesertContinuing in my present vein of answering common questions from Caterpillar employees anticipating a move to Tucson over the new five years or so, here's the current topic:  Rattlesnakes, Mountain Lions, Javelina, Scorpions and More!


Employees from Caterpillar are curious about the Tucson lifestyle, and have sent questions regarding life and living in our desert pueblo. Very importantly, life in the desert can be quite different than other areas around the United States.

Back in June of 2010, I blogged about Rattlesnakes in the Tucson, AZ desert.  You can see the post here by clicking on the title.  

Rattlesnakes in Tucson
In regards to avoiding snakes and poisonous insects in your personal space, some precautions can be made:

1.  Keep the brush and debris trimmed around your property and discard items that might provide cover for rodents and snakes.  Be aware of your surroundings at all times.  Avoid wood mulch.
2.  Snakes love to lay in the shade on a sunny day.  Avoid picking up rocks that snakes could be hiding under.
3.  Stay on pathways and wear sturdy, high top hiking shoes.  Carry a walking stick.
4.  If you come upon rattlesnakes in the Tucson, AZ desert or along your favorite walking path, slowly back away or stay very still.  Most snakes won’t follow you – they tend to bite defensively.

Mosquitoes like water, so watch your fountains, Koi ponds, etc. for stagnant water where breeding grounds can occur.  

Scorpions in Tucson
Scorpions are regularly found in various locations around Tucson.  Pest exterminator spray has little effect on the scorpion.  Here's a more in-depth post on Scorpions here.    Interestingly enough, scorpions prefer to hang upside down, so you can often find them on the underside of an object.  You can find them under rocks, wood piles, and landscaping bark/ tree bark.  They like your lawn irrigation system as well.

Bobcats, mountain lions (Pumas) and javelina:

Word to the wise:  Javelina are NOT wild pigs and are extremely unpredictable and dangerous. Javelina are most active at night, but they may be active during the day when it is cold.

Javelina in TucsonYou will likely see Javelina if you live in a semi-urban area near a wash or other natural desert. Javelina usually cause only minor problems for people by surprising them or eating a few plants. However, people should NEVER feed javelina. Javelina around your home may also inadvertently attract mountain lions, because mountain lions prey on javelina. Javelina usually visit homes to find food, water or shelter. Shelter can take the form of a porch, an area under a mobile home, a crawlspace beneath a house, or any other cave-like area. Javelina will seek shade during summer days and warmth during the winter.

To discourage a javelina and other wild animals such as pumas and mountain lions:

Scare off animals by making loud noises (bang pots, yell, stomp on the floor, etc.); throwing small rocks in their direction if you are in a protected spot.

If the animal is in a confined area, see if you can safely open a gate, have all people leave the area, and allow it to leave on its own. If it is still there the following day, contact a wildlife control business or the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

If you see javelina while walking your dog, avoid going near the javelina and quickly take your dog in a different direction. 

Other precautions you can take are:

Feed birds outside your walled garden areas.  Keep water sources beyond easy reach.  Contain garbage and compost.  Put your garbage out the morning of pickup.
Block walls are great deterrents.  Or, install chain link fencing (4 feet tall) around the entire yard. Patch up defective fences and gates.  Use block or solid skirting for mobile homes, decks and trailers .

In conclusion, common sense is your best barometer.  Avoid pests, keep things tidy, and stay alert.  There are tons of online resources as well to help you acclimate to desert living, and staying active and healthy in our SW environment.

We will talk more about lizards, Gila Monsters, and termites in other posts!



If I can assist you in your home buying or selling in Marana, Tucson, Oro Valley, or Vail, please don't hesitate to call me!  Email at swdeserthomes@aol.com

Cara Marcelle Mancuso, Long Realty,


Regarding the material posted in my blog postings, these are my personal opinions and not those of Long Realty Company. 

All listing information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be independently verified through personal inspection by appropriate professionals. Listings displayed on this website may be subject to prior sale or removal from sale; availability of any listing should always be independently verified.

Listing information is provided for consumer personal, non-commercial use, solely to identify potential properties for potential purchase; all other use is strictly prohibited and may violate relevant federal and state law.

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Comment balloon 5 commentsCara Marcelle Mancuso • June 06 2016 11:57AM


I don't like critter's I am sure I am not alone it is good to know we can take preventative measures to keep them away. Thanks for sharing the tips I hope you have a great day.

Posted by Pat Champion, Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs (Coldwell Banker Camelot Realty) almost 3 years ago

This is a very informative post. Thank you for sharing and best of luck!

Posted by Jeremy K. Frost, Associate Broker, CNE, CRS, ePro, PSA (Keller Williams Realty) almost 3 years ago

Each area of the country has its collection of outdoor critters to become aware of.  

By the way, that Rattler in the top photo, tells me his name is Fluffy!

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) almost 3 years ago

Good morning Cara.  Your number 4 was enough for me.  Most snakes won't follow, if any do I'm out

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) almost 3 years ago

The Arizona Game and Fish Department welcomes you all to Arizona. While these critters may not interest you, we conserve and protect more than 800 species of wildlife in Arizona. Learn more about the many ways you can enjoy the great outdoors by visiting our portal: www.azgfd.gov

Posted by bill Andres almost 3 years ago