Tips for Residents

Life in the Sonoran desert holds many pleasures, but it also presents some unique challenges for us and our pets. As local animal rescue organizations, we have dealt with and heard of many different situations involving pets. As a result of our experiences, we have compiled these important tips to help you and your pets adjust to life in the desert.

 While living in the Sonoran desert is a delight, the environment can present specific challenges to mammals such as our pets and ourselves. In an effort to prevent you from learning from experience, we hope the following tips will ease your transition into life as a member of the desert dwelling community. We can all get along.

Click on the links below to take you to details about each predator:

Predators
Predatory Animals
Rattlesnakes
Snakes
Deer Ticks
Scorpions & Spiders
Sonoran Desert Toads

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Predators

predators-_coyote.jpgIn this area, we have a number of predators -- COYOTES, BOBCATS, OWLS, and HAWKS -- that can prey on domestic pets. Wild animals are protective of their young and will defend themselves if they feel threatened or provoked such as being chased by a dog. Keep your dog on a leash at all times. Contrary to popular belief, these attacks are not limited to the nighttime hours and are not limited to small pets. Keeping dogs in a fenced or walled area is desirable for this reason, although a small pet that is enclosed in a yard may still be vulnerable to predators who can fly. An outside kennel with a top and bottom connected to your house or garage with a doggie/cat door can provide a safe area for your pets. Cats are much safer indoors. Neutered pets are less likely to run away, making themselves vulnerable.

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Predatory Animals

The desert holds a wide variety of carnivorous animals including but not limited to bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, hawks and owls. Being creatures of the wild we can and should expect them to avail themselves of any and all susceptible creatures. Domestic animals are at the top of the list due to their trusting and loving nature. All too often pets are lost to the circle of life. To ensure your pet does not become part of the food chain we must protect them in the many ways. Understanding that interaction at any time between domestic and wild animals can be fatal, we must be vigilant day and night. Always leash your dog. Any barriers to your pets escape must also keep predators out. Flying predators pose a threat to pets as large as fifteen pounds (surprising but true). A kennel connected to your house by a doggie door should be enclosed both top and bottom. Cats are safest indoors. Wanderlust is decreased by neutering and so lessens the likelihood of a tragic runaway.

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Rattlesnakes

predators-_snake.jpgRattlesnakes can also pose problems to our domestic animals. If you or your pet spots a snake, don't try to deal with it yourself. Keep pets far away from the snake. Rattlesnakes can lunge up to one half their body length. Install hardware cloth where you have gaps or openings in your fence and under gates to help keep snakes out. Residents served by Rural Metro may call them at (480) 945-6311 for snake removal. Snakes often end up in garages, so keeping the garage door shut may help keep them out.

If you or your pet is bitten by a snake seek medical help immediately.

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Snakes

With their ability to lunge up to half their body length snakes pose a danger to all living creatures. Unless you are an expert, assume any snake you encounter may be poisonous and keep your distance. Many an inquisitive pet ends up bitten for their curiosity. You can enroll your dog in "snake training" with a trainer who uses live snakes (dogs react to the smell of a rattlesnake, not to its appearance or sound). Any gaps or openings in fences or under gates must be closed off. Should a snake be sighted, don't deal with it yourself. Residents serviced by Rural Metro may call (480) 945-6311 for snake removal. In the event of a snake bite, seek medical attention immediately. Do not cut the bite, do not apply a tourniquet, and never try to suck out the venom.

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Deer Ticks

Deer Ticks are common here as well. Check pets periodically for dark-colored "pea-like" pests attached to your pet’s skin. Remove ticks with tweezers making sure to get entire body and head out. You may want to drop the ticks that you remove into alcohol—they are difficult to kill. Infested pets should be taken to the veterinarian to be tested for Tick Fever, a serious but usually treatable disease.

Ticks-These parasites, often found in desert environments, can infect your pet with Tick Fever, a treatable but nonetheless serious disease. Check your pet from time to time for small dark round "beads" on their skin (commonly located between toes, in ears, under armpits and along spine). Infested pets should be tested for Tick Fever by your veterinarian.

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Scorpions & Spiders

predators-_spider.jpgScorpions and spiders can sting or bite our pets indoors or outdoors. Contrary to common belief, some cats will get quite sick when stung by a scorpion. If your pet is suddenly vomiting, defecating uncontrollably, or acting strangely, seek medical attention.

Unfortunately our pets can be subjected to bites both in the house as well as out of doors. Dogs may act as if they have been injected with fire, licking and biting the wounded area, trying to ease the pain. With advise from a Veterinarian, Benadryl may help ease the sting. Watch for symptoms of uncontrollable defecation, vomiting, or any unusual behavior signaling the need for immediate medical attention.

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Sonoran Desert Toads

Sonoran Desert Toads (aka Colorado River Toad) secrete from glands on their neck and limbs a viscous, milky-white venom that is painful and extremely toxic to our pets and humans. It can cause severe irritation to the eyes and nose, foaming at the mouth, paralysis, seizures, and even death. If you notice your dog, cat or young child mouthing or playing with these toads, or showing signs of staggering, or dilated eye pupils, carefully flush their mouth thoroughly with water and seek immediate medical care since heart irregularities often develop and can result in death less than 30 minutes after exposure. These toads are rather large with beady eyes and a flat broad head. The skin is leathery, sparsely covered with pale orange

Sonoran Desert Toads (Colorado River Toads) when stressed, exuded a milky white toxin from the glands at the back the neck and limbs that is extremely toxic to our pets and humans. Symptoms may include irritation of eyes and nose, foaming at the mouth, staggering, pupil dilation, paralysis, seizures, rapid heart rate, high temperatures. Death can occur within thirty minutes. Carefully flush the pets mouth out, controlling the flow of water so it washes sideways, not down the throat, then seek medical help.

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Four Peaks Foundation dba Four Peaks Animal Rescue is a 501 (c) (3) Non-Profit Organization.
All animals are seen by appointment only.
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Fax: 480-471-2201


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28150 N. Alma School Rd.
PMB# 103-470
Scottsdale, AZ 85262
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