When you think of Dallas night life, you probably don’t picture snakes, coyotes, bobcats, and insects. But this metropolitan area is surprisingly alive at night, with nocturnal creatures coming out of their day-time hiding spots to hunt and mate. Here’s a small sampling of creatures we commonly encounter on the trails around Dallas.
You can’t throw a stick around here without hitting a copperhead. They’re everywhere, and a warm night’s walk will almost guarantee a few sightings. Although they are venomous, they are thankfully even-tempered and usually quite reluctant to strike. We’ve even kicked/stepped on them by mistake and they simply slither away or recoil without a bite. Still, you should always be careful walking in copperhead territory, especially with your pets.
Another adorable resident of the metroplex is the American Green Treefrog. This species is common throughout the south, and central Texas is the westernmost edge of its range. They’re more often heard than seen, but we’ve had a few encounters with these little guys when they hop across our flashlight beams.
Crayfish, like this one we found at Joppa Preserve, are found throughout wet fields and meadows, as well as vernal pools and swampland in the Dallas area. Although they spend most of the time in their underground burrows, they occasionally emerge and walk around like alien invaders. We’ve seen hundreds of them slowly crawl out of the ground at once, which is a fascinating sight!
One of the most bizarre creatures we frequently encounter on night walks is the Two-striped Walkingstick. During mating season, the trails fill up with pairs of these insects. The large one on the bottom is the female, almost always seen carrying around her freeloading husband. He just sits there and cruises around smoking pot all day. Oh, and this is another species to watch out for. If you disturb them too much, they will shoot acid out of their thorax and aim for the eyes, which I’ve heard can be quite painful and even cause temporary blindness!
It’s a wild world out there; grab a flashlight and share your findings!