Favorite Critters at Sabbatical Ranch

We don't like rattlesnakes, rodents, and javelina, but there's more critters we do like than those we don't. And then there's a number of critters that we have mixed feelings about. Some of these critters are quite entertaining!


hummingbird bird flight avian 1854225
I’ve always liked hummingbirds, but little did I know until we settled here that Sierra Vista is the hummingbird capitol of the world! In different parts of the country where we’ve lived we would put up hummingbird feeders to attract them, but here we’re surrounded by their natural habitat so there’s no need to do that.


Horned lizard 032507 kdh
There are a few different kinds of relatively small lizards here. They’re pretty friendly and they eat garden pests. They are fun to watch. Some can run so fast it’s a blur while others seem to move just fast enough to avoid being bitten as they snack on ants.


Greater Roadrunner
These are pretty cool birds. They like all our trails and help us patrol them. Their name must come from their habit of traveling the beaten path, going off road only to snatch rodents, lizards, and bugs.

Gopher Snakes

Gopher Snake
At first glance a gopher snake could be mistaken for a rattlesnake. Both help keep down the rodent population, but gopher snakes don’t have life-threatening venom like rattlesnakes do. And they compete with rattlers for territory.

Tarantula Wasps

Tarantula Hawk Wasp
Imagine a giant wasp two-three inches long that is dark black with shades of metallic blue and green that glimmers in the sun. They enter tarantula homes, do battle, and haul their paralyzed prey home for dinner for their babies.


Eastern Screech Owl's stink eye
Another cool bird, owls are a great ally in our war against rodents. We want to build a house for barn owls or screech owls who are fantastic rodent hunters that don’t go after chickens. We currently have great horned owls in the neighborhood who have preyed on the neighbor’s chickens, but not ours. Hopefully the barn owls will displace them.


The reason I like bats is because they eat so many mosquitoes. You wouldn’t think mosquitoes would be a problem on the desert, but they are during monsoon season. Every mosquito eaten by a bat is one less mosquito to bite me (I don’t know why bloodsucking insects like me so much).

Love/Hate Relationship

Cottontail Rabbits & Gambel’s Quail

Gambel's quail chicks
The cute factor is what these critters have going for them and they’re fun to watch. Their little ones are especially adorable. However, they like to eat much of what is grown in gardens and they dig depressions in the moist soil.

Tarantulas & Wolf Spiders

Giant, creepy crawlies! They are actually beneficial because they eat garden pests. We were visiting a neighbor and watched in suspense when they found a tarantula and then fondly ushered it onto their hand and up their arm. They’re gentle, giant spiders whose bite isn’t any worse than most other spiders.


Leafcutter ants transporting leaves
We like ants for the most part. Among other benefits they help aerate the soil. There are numerous varieties here. We won’t like it if they start an aphid milking operation on our food plants though. But the worst is the leafcutter ants! They can defoliate a tree overnight and have killed several of the evergreens we planted by stripping their foliage.


I’ve written plenty about coyotes killing chickens, but they’re not all bad. A pack of 3-6 have intriguing yelping parties that sound like there’s at least a dozen of them. I’ve also dubbed them the neighborhood song leaders because they frequently lead an incredible chorus at the crack of dawn. All the dogs in the neighborhood join in as well as roosters. I’ve even heard a donkey participate and probably other critters as well. It’s hard to describe the almost exhilarating sound, but it is truly amazing. They also help keep rodents down and you don’t have to feed them the way you do domestic dogs (some of whom dig holes in your yard worse than free range chickens and are incessant barkers and voracious eaters).

Mexican Jaguar

Who would have believed me when I reported a cat attack that may have been a Mexican Jaguar. But now a local resident captured one on a trail camera.

Related post: What Is It? Cat Attack! Mexican Jaguar?

Free Consultation

Get Sabbatical Ranch news and get a one-on-one with Chris Stevens to ask anything you want or just introduce yourself and share your story.

We’ll never send you spam or share your email address.

Leave a Comment