Fauna & Flora, Grand Canyon National Park
Ilk of all sorts of fin, feather and fur live in the canyon, and you’re likely see any number of them during your visit. Most visitors know to give a bear, mountain lion or rattlesnake a wide berth but what’s really the most hazardous to your hide?
This little guy: the Rock Squirrel.
They look cute and cuddly, and especially so when begging for a bite of whatever you’re munching on. Hold a bit of that out to them and they may very well take a piece of your hand as well. The single most common injuries stitched up or bandaged at the G.C. clinic are squirrel bites. That in itself being a painful experience, these little devils carry parasites and disease, and their razor-sharp teeth can chew holes in a food-carrying backpack in minutes. Fines are also high if you get caught willfully sharing your lunch with the fauna.
Others of the wildlife become twitchy when approached, and will kick, butt or bite in defense.
So what’s the critters’ most perilous foe?
Humans = easy sources of food that eventually makes them dependent on handouts, camp and picnic-site raids, carelessly discarded lunch litter and backpack invasions if there’s enough of that around. People food isn’t usually good for them, either. Additionally, they become desensitized to other threats we create, and are drawn from natural habitats to heavily touristed areas where they risk being hit by cars, or having to be destroyed for troublesome behavior.
So for your own welfare and theirs:
• Never feed the animals
• Never take food into a tent, or leave it laying around on a picnic table. This includes anything that may smell like food, such as toothpaste or deodorants. Wash pots, dishes and utensils immediately after meals, and remove food from your pack at night. Reference the park website for recommended storage procedures.
• Along the rim, dispose of food containers in the proper bins (all outdoor bins in the park are animal-proofed), and pick up/throw away any bits of food you’ve dropped
• Pack out your garbage when hiking the trails
• Enjoy the critters from a distance
At a motel in Page, we had a raven shred its way into a bag of chips on the patio table in just the few seconds it took to step inside and grab a couple of beers! That’ll teach us.
Apparently, these cuties carry rabies and the Plague. Yes, like the mid evil style Black Plague. There are signs asking ppl not to feed the wild life as they become use to not needing to forage for themselves. The same type of squirrel exists at Zion NP, but I didn't see any Black Plague warnings. I saw lots of ppl trying to take pics really near them. I stayed away bc you don't need to say plague to me twice! Whether they have the plague or not, they are also famous for trying to bite off visitors hands trying to get food. There are pics up of hands with stitches trying to prove the viciousness of these animals. Again, I think Black Plague is enough of a threat to keep me from feeding the squirrels.
There are rattlesnakes of different varieties - the Grand Canyon rattlesnake being the most common. Rarely there are mountain lions and bobcats. Commonly, there are bats. You will know evening is drawing on when the first bat flies over your camp.
Cactuses of many species all are waiting for you to try them out. These plants are the water conservation champions. They have exchanged water losing leaves for sharp spines.