Saguaro National Park Feature
Flora and Fauna
More than 1,200 plant species, including 50 types of cactus, thrive in the park; among the most common are the prickly pear, barrel cactus, and teddy bear cholla—named so because it (falsely) appears cuddly—rangers suggest packing a comb to pull its barbed hooks from fingers.
For many of the desert fauna, the saguaro functions as a high-rise hotel. Each spring, the Gila woodpecker and gilded flicker create holes in the cactus and then nest there. When they give up their temporary digs, elf owls, cactus wrens, sparrow hawks, and other avians move in, as do dangerous Africanized honeybees.
The wildlife is most active in early morning and at dusk. Six species of rattlesnake and the Gila monster, a venomous lizard, inhabit the park. In spring and summer they are out and about but tend to keep a low profile during the midday heat. Look where you are walking and avoid sticking your hands or feet under rocks or into crevices. If you do get bitten, get to a clinic or hospital immediately. Not all snakes pass on venom; 50% of the time, the bite is "dry" (non-poisonous).
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