Southeastern Arizona, May 2000
page 5 of 6
Sabino Canyon by Night
(Click any photo throughout to see a larger version)
Next on my agenda was an overnight stay in Tucson and a chance to prowl desert canyons at night in search of Gila monsters. Believe it or not, John, Brenda, and Monica decided that they would rather spend their one evening in Tucson having a nice meal at a restaurant, drinking a few beers, and relaxing around the grounds of the beautiful Westward Look resort, where there are many many bunnies.

But have no fear, I was not alone. I had the great good pleasure of joining Arizona herp expert Roger Repp and another couple, Mort and Linda Phelan. Roger and I had planned in advance to meet at Sabino Canyon because it's one of the better places to find the rare Gila monster as well as many other fine Sonoran herps. And May is internationally-recognized Gila Monster Month, as everyone knows (check your calendars).

The four of us started our hike in the waning sunlight, in the hopes of seeing a regal horned lizard or two. The regal horned lizards were not cooperating though, and remained unseen. Desert spiny lizards like this youngster were less aloof.

Our first good find of the evening was a lovely little banded gecko. They scurry about only at night because they're far too delicate to be out in the brutal desert sun. We ended up seeing two of these guys. After our first encounter, I mentioned that the banded gecko was one of the very few herps that I had seen as a kid but hadn't seen again since. The only other ones I could think of were the California legless lizard, a few toads, and the banded sand snake.
Shortly thereafter, we came across none other than a banded sand snake. Can I call them or what?

We also ended up seeing a desert tortoise, a spotted skunk, and a bobcat, and two young women who themselves had seen a Gila monster earlier in the evening. But the Gila monsters decided that they needed to give me a good solid excuse to come back to Sabino Canyon in the daytime, so none of them put on an appearance for us.

Next: Sabino Canyon by Day