Arches National Park Reptiles

Along with cacti and sand dunes, reptiles have become icons of the desert. The only reptiles found in Arches are snakes and lizards, underappreciated, sometimes feared, animals that play an important role in the high desert ecosystem. Lizards and snakes help control insect and rodent populations. In turn, both are potential meals for birds and mammals. All reptiles are cold-blooded or, more accurately, "ectothermic," regulating body temperature via external sources rather than internal metabolism. A reptile's metabolic rate is very low, but so are its energy needs. Since keeping warm in the desert does not require much work, reptiles are well adapted to this environment.

What energy they do generate can be used for reproduction and finding food instead of heating and cooling. Of course, there are drawbacks to this lifestyle. Since they don't pant or sweat, reptiles can't endure extremely high temperatures without shade. Nor can they endure prolonged sub-zero temperatures. When it's cold, reptiles hibernate or enter into an inactive torpor. Food stored as fat in their tails helps lizards survive these long periods of inactivity, so losing a tail can be life threatening. If you visit Arches during the summer, you are sure to see lots of lizards. After birds, these reptiles are the most active animals once daytime temperatures reach 90 degrees and higher.

They are usually visible sunbathing on rocks or chasing insects with their lightning-quick reflexes. Lizards found here include the northern whiptail, the desert spiny, and the colorful western collared lizard. Most of the snakes found in Arches are harmless and nocturnal. All will escape from human confrontations given the opportunity. The midget-faded rattlesnake, a small subspecies of the western rattlesnake, has extremely toxic venom. However, full venom injections occur in only one third of all bites. The midget-faded rattlesnake lives in burrows and rock crevices and is mostly active at night.

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October's Featured Park
Arches National Park is known for its' remarkable natural red sandstone arches. With over 2,000 catalogued arches that range in size from a three-foot opening, to Landscape Arch which measures 306 feet from base to base, the park offers the largest concentration of natural arches in the world.
October's Animal
Most commonly found in the tundra of Rocky Mountain National Park, the pika is a close relative of the rabbits and hares, with two upper incisors on each side of the jaw, one behind the other. Being rock-gray in color, pikas are seldom seen until their shrill, metallic call reveals their presence.