Jess with tortoise cropWildlife of the Sonoran Desert will be featured at Academy Village next Thursday (May 9), with a program called “Meet the Neighbors.”  At 2:15 and again at 3:30 staff educator, Jesύs Manuel Garcia, will introduce desert dwellers from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  A ringtail, a barn owl, a desert tortoise, a tarantula and a barn owl will be among the animals Jesus will bring. Seating is limited for both shows, and advance registration is required (see box).

The ringtail is in the raccoon family and is related to coati.  This nocturnal mammal, common in Arizona’s mountains and canyons, is difficult to see unless one crosses the road in front of your car some night. Another nighttime hunter is the barn owl.  Easy to find here in Arizona, it is declining in other parts of the country due to habitat loss.   It hunts predominantly by hearing, going after mice, rats, and pocket gophers.

Desert tortoise takes advantage of the cooler nighttime temperatures to find its food.  It is adapted to the desert and can go for long periods of time without food or water.  Tarantulas are very sensitive to vibrations in the ground that may indicate the presence of prey or danger.  They feed primarily on grasshoppers, beetles, and other small spiders, and will sometimes eat small lizards.

Jesύs Manuel Garcia, a native of Sonora Mexico, has a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona.  He has been associated with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum since 1991, first as a volunteer, then as an education specialist.

Submitted by Beverly Robertson, Academy Village Volunteer

[box type=”info”] Interested in attending? Click here.[/box]
Meet a Few of Our Nocturnal Neighbors: May 2013