Cactus casualties: Extreme heat takes its toll on Arizona saguaros

July was the hottest month on record for any U.S. city, but now it might be becoming too hot to handle. Plants that typically thrive in the desert, like saguaro cactus are losing arms, turning brown, and falling over all together.

Experts say it's been a brutal summer on the cacti, with no relief, even at night.

"Next day.. arm fell off, the next day after that, another arm fell off, the third day, it toppled in half," said David Rivera. 

Rivera's slain saguaro in Peoria began to lose its arms while the other one was rotting from the inside out.

"Having one this mature it's just sad to see this old of a plant died and succumb to the weather," he said.

But picking up the prickly pieces is not pleasant.

"I'd say the arms weigh probably between 150 and 300 pounds, so it's heavy," he said.

That's where Moon Valley Nurseries comes in.

"They have to cut them in one foot sections just in order to carry them to the truck," said Toni Cruise, Moon Valley Nurseries' Arizona Regional Manager.

Moon Valley Nurseries has nearly a dozen locations across the Valley, have been inundated with requests to help save saguaros and at times like this, haul the broken and sick ones away.

""We’ve had calls coming in constantly about its arms falling off, saguaros just falling over, people leaving for work, coming home finding it in their driveway, etc., so yeah, it’s been kind of crazy out there," said Stephanie Lemrise, Moon Valley Nurseries' Tree Care Division director.

Saguaros can live up to 200 years and grow as tall as 40 feet, but it can be slow. It may take 50 to 75 years before they get their first arm. Saguaros are also protected, so you can't just dig them up and move them. Destruction or theft is illegal under state law, so leave it to the professionals.

"Someone will come out to your house and actually give you a consultation make sure you understand what we are going to do for the day," said Cruise.

In fact, bigger saguaros are more susceptible and prone to the effects of a drought. Plus, if you transplant one, they can sometimes get stressed out. Again, for more tips, talk to the experts.