Meet Chuck. Peggy and I discovered him as we were hiking around in the rocks looking for petroglyphs at the Valley of Fire State Park. I can’t say he was friendly, but he certainly wasn’t scared. Mainly he was curious. I was almost on top of him before he crawled into a shadowy crevice.
Chuckwallas are rather impressive members of the lizard family that can grow up to 16 inches in length. Their primarily vegetarian diet apparently serves them well. (Not that they are above scarfing down an occasional insect.) They are found throughout the deserts of the Southwest. They hide in cracks when being chased and puff up their bodies so whatever is chasing them can’t yank them out. Most predators depart with little more than a bony lizard tail for dinner. The chuckwalla is then free to go on its way and grow a new one.
As I mentioned in my last blog, plants have done a remarkable job of adapting to desert life. Dilly-dallying is not an option when rain falls. Annual desert plants can grow, bloom, and produce seeds in a few short weeks. The seeds then wait a year, or longer, for the next rain to come along. Others, like cacti, slurp up and store enormous amount of water for later use. Some plants have deep roots to gather water and tiny leaves to prevent its loss.
The primary reason for visiting the Valley of Fire is its magnificent rocks, however. I presented several photos in my last blog. Here are more.
NEXT BLOG: The ancient Native America rock art found in the Valley of Fire State Park.