Despite the extreme heat, many warm-blooded mammals thrive in the desert, like mountain lions, bighorn sheep, and desert cottontail rabbits, a common sight in desert landscapes in and around the city. Bobcats look very similar to domestic cats, though they’re about two to three times larger and extremely fierce, as they are able to hunt down rabbits, squirrels, rodents, and even pronghorn antelope and mule deer. Also, don’t be surprised if you see coyotes roaming the deserts at night—or at least hear these small canines howling in the distance. Their tan and beige coats, along with their keen hearing and sense of smell, help them hide from predators in the day and search for prey at night. Additionally, brown, furry javelinas roam the desert in groups, searching for leaves, cacti, and grasses.
Bats, nature’s only flying mammal, serve an important role in the desert’s ecosystem. Migrating species, such as the lesser long-nosed bat from Mexico, travel to Arizona in the spring to pollinate plants and cacti, like the saguaro cactus. They also eat many of the small insects that could plague the desert without their hungry colonies. The 18 species live in caves throughout the deserts of the Southwest.