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Mojave Desertscrub

Mojave desertscrub covers a small portion of northwestern Arizona with some species extending as far south as the Wickenburg area. The climate of this desert is characterized by very hot and dry summers with cool winters. Rainfall is extremely sparse and is generally from 4 to 6 inches a year. Landscapes of the Mojave desert are typically quite barren and desolate in appearance with low, scattered shrubs such as creosote bush or shadscale. A distinctive species found only in this desert is a bizarre tree-like yucca, the joshua tree. It commonly grows at the foot of mountains on gravelly slopes from 3000 to about 5000 feet sometimes forming joshua tree "woodlands".

Lizards, snakes, rodents, and birds are the most common residents of this harsh desert environment. The desert night lizard lives among the joshua tree "forests" of the area and is one of the more distinctive animals of the region. Wild burros roam the Mohave but are damaging the habitat of one of the areaís most majestic animals, the desert bighorn sheep.

The desert bighorn sheep prefers the blackbrush and grass-covered slopes common in many areas between 4000 and 6000 feet. Males can weigh as much as 250 pounds, and with their thick, coiled horns and muscular features they are an impressive sight. Females generally weigh about 100 pounds. Bighorns live in herds of up to 100 animals, wandering the open desert country in search of shrubs and grasses to eat. These sheep are amazingly agile and sure-footed on even the roughest terrain, evading predators by running out along cliffs where most pursuers wouldnít dare go.


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