Secrets of our Sonoran Desert

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Posted on August 18, 2020 by Laura Lucky

Often, when one thinks of a desert, they picture endless vistas of sand dunes devoid of plant life and inhabited by only slithering snakes and giant scorpions. Perhaps that’s the case in other deserts around the world, but our gorgeous Sonoran Desert is amazingly bio-diverse, teeming with thousands of species of plants and animals. We thought we’d share some interesting facts about our beautiful desert, some that you may not have realized. Enjoy!

Encompassing a whopping 100,000 square miles, the Sonoran Desert spreads from most of the southern half of Arizona, southeastern California, most of the Baja California peninsula, and much of the Mexican state of Sonora.

Our desert is the hottest of any desert in North America, however, more rain falls here than in any other desert in the world – an average of 10 inches a year to be specific. No doubt, that rainfall helps to boost the incredible amount of flora and fauna that make their home here.

You’ll find over 2,000 species of plants in the desert, including the mighty saguaro cactus. In fact, the Sonoran Desert is the only place in the world in which the saguaro grows, and the saguaro has become the unofficial iconic symbol for our area. Don’t mess with our precious saguaros – anyone transplanting or destroying a saguaro without a license is subject to a hefty $10,000 fine! The Desert Ironwood tree is also only found in the Sonoran and provides shelter and food for many different animals. Did you know these trees can live up to 1,500 years?

With at least 60 species of mammals, 20 of amphibians, 100 different reptiles, 350 species of birds, over 100 native bee species, and over 30 native fish species; the animals that make the desert their home are all part of a delicate balance keeping the area thriving with life. In the area south of Tucson and near the Mexico border, our desert boasts the only population of jaguars living in the United States.

With extreme diurnal temperatures and seasonal climate extremes, the Sonoran Desert is known for its scorching high temperatures. Yet snow and frost aren’t completely uncommon. In fact, Mount Lemmon near Tucson even boasts a ski resort!

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