Visiting the Grand Canyon is the one thing that most outdoor adventurers have in common on their to-do lists. The majestic views and breathtaking natural landscape are a sight to behold for sure, but one aspect of the visit that gets less attention than it should is the abundant selection of wildlife that lives in the area. Some of the creatures that live there are quite unique to the region as well, so keep your eyes peeled for these stunning critters!
1) The Ringtail
The Ringtail is an adorable mammal that is almost unrecognizable by most people since it rarely comes out during the day. A night hunter, these busy little animals are shy and try to keep their distance from people whenever possible to avoid being caught or harassed. They like arid and dry places, so the Grand Canyon makes a wonderful home for these cat-like beings. They eat smaller animals, but are non-aggressive and often get mistaken for lemurs, which are not native to North America.
There are 22 different species of bats inhabiting the Grand Canyon area. They are all unique, but one thing is certain--all of them help control an otherwise overwhelming population of mosquitoes and other bugs that would make visiting the area at night uncomfortable. They often get mistaken for birds, but are far more numerous than birds in most instances. Bats can sleep in caves comfortably with up to a million of their closest family members and still fill up on over a pound of insects a night.
3) Abert's Squirrel
This little fella is named after John Abert and has a unique type of tufting on its ears that sets it apart from other commonly-found species of squirrels in the United States. It is native to the southwest, so you are sure to see at least one if you are visiting the Grand Canyon region. They have been known to eat bark, berries, buds, and sometimes even carrion, but are timid and tend to stay away from humans whenever possible. Their playful demeanor often attracts the admiration and attention of many tourists.
4) Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn Sheep are a fairly common animal in the Grand Canyon area. These large mammals usually stay with their herd unless they are sick or are protective of their young. As vegetarians, they eat plants and graze on the sides of steep cliff faces wherever they can get their feet to hold onto some rock. They were originally from Asia and migrated over via an ancient land bridge. They weigh about 250 pounds on average, making them one of the heaviest sheep species in North America.
Elk are some of the largest members of the deer family, so they can sometimes be quite intimidating. Coming in as a close second only to the moose, these plant-eaters are always an attraction to behold for those visitors who are not used to seeing an animal their size simply grazing for food on the side of the trail. These large deer can run in front of cars suddenly, and their migratory patterns make them cross major roads in packs of 300 or more, so be careful while driving!
6) Bald Eagles
What other creature can stir that sense of American pride and heritage other than the country's national symbol of freedom itself, the Bald Eagle? These beautiful birds are found quite frequently soaring over the deepest parts of the canyon and are often searching for small rodents, fish, and other food sources to satiate them. These birds are known for having brown bodies and white feathers on their heads with a striking yellow beak. Keep an eye open to spot one, but don't disturb any nesting sites that you might come across.
7) Mountain Lions
Mountain lions are endangered animals that inhabit most of North America, but can occasionally be seen at the Grand Canyon since the habitat is very much ideal for their species. These large cats prey on smaller animals but have been known to occasionally go after larger prey if the need is dire. Several decades ago, these beautiful creatures were hunted to near-extinction but due to conservation efforts, they have made quite a strong comeback, boasting 10 per square mile in some areas.
8) California Condor
California Condors are critically endangered but can be found in the Grand Canyon vicinity thanks to rehabilitation efforts re-introducing the species after it went extinct in the wild. These birds have the most massive wingspan of any bird found in North America, and they eat carrion, especially that of large animals. There are only an estimated 450 of these birds left in the world, including the wild and captive specimens.
9) Chuckwalla Lizard
The Chuckwalla Lizard is one of many species of lizard that lives in the Grand Canyon. These chunky little guys prefer a dryer, more arid place so they can regulate their body temperatures more easily. They eat mostly small insects and plants, and can be handled without risk of injury if you can catch one! The males like the company of females and will defend their mate if necessary.
Last but certainly not least on the list comes the scorpion. The Giant Hairy scorpion and the Bark scorpion are the two species that live near or in the Grand Canyon. Both species pack a serious punch with their needle-sharp tails and toxic venom, so touching them should be avoided at all costs. They are mostly active at night time and eat small insects.
Be sure to look out for these amazing animals and lots more when visiting the Grand Canyon. For the most ideal viewing of the region and all that it has to offer, book a tour of the Grand Canyon. Even if you’re just looking for a quick day trip to explore the Grand Canyon between other destinations, there are tours that will take you to the most popular attractions and sights, including the Grand Canyon Skywalk and the National Geographic Visitor’s Center.