Our Beautiful World

North American Animals, Page 5 of 5

Wild pony, Equus caballus
Assateague pony; five wild feral ponies drinking at water pool
Photo: Hillebrand, Steve;

On this page:

Coypu, Nutria, Mycastor coypus
Black-footed Ferret, Mustela nigripes
Black-tailed Prairie Dog
, Cynomys ludovicianus
San Joaquin Kit Fox, Vulpes macrotis mutica
Bighorn Sheep, Ovis canadensis
Bobcat, Lynx rufus

If you forgot page one, two, three or four, you may click here.

Creator: Hines, Bob

Coypu, Nutria, Mycastor coypus


Nutria is an invasive species brought to the U.S. from south America by trappers who thought to capitalize on the sale of their fur. The species has taken over rivers and lakes causing lots of trouble and habitat damage. US Fish and Wildlife Service biologists want to keep track of nutria and work hard to study its behavior and population size without harming them.

The next photo was taken in conjunction with USFWS and Pangolin Film's effort to create awareness surrounding the dangers of the spreading non-native nutria populations in the northwest region.

This area is home to many nutria in Tigard, Oregon.
Photo: Tess McBride

The coypu (from the Mapudungun, koypu), Myocastor coypus, also known as the river rat, and nutria, is a large, herbivorous,
semiaquatic rodent and the only member of the family Myocastoridae. Originally native to subtropical and temperate South
America, it has since been introduced to North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, primarily by fur ranchers.Although it is still
valued for its fur in some regions, its destructive feeding and burrowing behaviors make this invasive species a pest throughout
most of its range.

There are two commonly-used names in the English language for Myocastor coypus. The name nutria (or local derivatives such as "nutria- or nutra- rat") is generally used in North America and Asia; however, in Spanish-speaking countries, the word nutria
refers to the otter. To avoid this ambiguity, the name coypu (derived from the Mapudungun language) is used in Latin America
and Europe. In France, the coypu is known as a ragondin. In Dutch it is known as beverrat (beaver rat). In Italy, instead, the
popular name is, as in North America and Asia, nutria, but it is also called castorino (little beaver), by which its fur is known in Italy.

Coypus live in burrows alongside stretches of water. They feed on river plants, and waste close to 90% of the plant material
while feeding on the stems.

Nutria in water, Mycastor coypus
Photo: Hillebrand Steve

The coypu somewhat resembles a very large rat, or a beaver with a small tail. Adults are typically 5–9 kg in weight, and 40–60 cm
in body length, with a 30–45 cm tail. They have a coarse, darkish brown outer fur with a soft under-fur. Two distinguishing marks
are the presence of a white patch on the muzzle, and webbed hind feet. They can also be identified by their bright orange-yellow
incisor teeth (unlike rats, which have brownish yellow incisors). The nipples of female coypu are high on her flanks. This allows
their young to feed while the female is in the water.

Text about the Nutria: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coypu

Black-Footed Ferret, Mustela nigripes

Black-Footed Ferret, Mustela nigripes
Photo: Hagerty, Ryan

This photo was taken at the Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Program in Colorado. The black-footed ferret is considered to
be the rarest mammal in North America. In 1988, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service developed the "Black-footed Ferret
Recovery Plan" which emphasized species preservation through natural breeding, development of assisted reproductive
technology, and establishment of multiple reintroduction sites. The objective of the captive breeding program was to maintain
240 ferrets (90 males, 150 females) of prime breeding age (1-3 years old) in captivity, and subdivide the captive populaton
into different locations in order to avoid catastrophic loss at a single facility.

Ferrets were released back into the wild in Wyoming in 1991, in South Dakota and Montana in 1994, and in Arizona in 1998.
The Colorado reintroduction started in 2001. Since then a total of 170 ferrets have been released in the state; 20 more will
be released in October.
For more information about black-footed ferrets and program visit http://www.blackfootedferret.org/.
For more listing information and the status visit http://ecos.fws.gov/species_profile/servlet/gov.doi.species_profile.servlets.SpeciesProfile?spcode=A004

Black-Footed Ferret, Mustela nigripes
Photo: Hagerty, Ryan

The Black-footed Ferret, Mustela nigripes, also known as the American polecat or Prairie Dog Hunter, is a species of Mustelid
native to central North America. It is listed as endangered by the IUCN, because of its very small and restricted populations.
First discovered by Audubon and Bachman in 1851, the species declined throughout the 20th century, primarily as a result of
decreases in prairie dog populations and sylvatic plague. It was declared extinct in 1979 until Lucille Hogg's dog brought a dead
black-footed ferret to her door in Meeteetse, Wyoming in 1981. That remnant population of a few dozen ferrets lasted there until
the animals were considered extinct in the wild in 1987.

The black-footed ferret is roughly the size of a mink, and differs from the European polecat by the greater contrast between its
dark limbs and pale body and the shorter length of its black tail-tip. In contrast, differences between the black-footed ferret and
the steppe polecat of Asia are slight, to the point where the two species were once thought to be conspecific.The only noticeable
differences between the black-footed ferret and the steppe polecat are the former's much shorter and coarser fur, larger ears,
and longer postmolar extension of the palate.

It is largely nocturnal and solitary, except when breeding or raising litters. Up to 91% of its diet is composed of prairie dogs.

Black-Footed Ferret, Mustela nigripes
Photo: Black, Tami S.

Males measure 50–53 cm in body length and 11 –13 cm in tail length, thus constituting 22–25% of its body length. Females are
typically 10% smaller than males. It weighs 650–1,400 grams. Captive-bred ferrets used for the reintroduction projects were
found to be smaller than their wild counterparts, though these animals rapidly attained historical body sizes once released.

The black-footed ferret is solitary, except when breeding or raising litters. It is nocturnal and primarily hunts for sleeping prairie
dogs in their burrows. It is most active above ground from dusk to midnight and 4 a.m. to mid-morning. Aboveground activity is
greatest during late summer and early autumn when juveniles become independent. Climate generally does not limit black-footed
ferret activity, but it may remain inactive inside burrows for up to 6 days at a time during winter.

Text about the Black-footed_ferret: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-footed_ferret

Black-tailed prairie dog, Cynomys ludovicianus

Black-Tailed prairie dog eating on Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma
Photo: Smith, Elise

The black-tailed prairie dog, Cynomys ludovicianus, is a rodent of the family Sciuridae found in the Great Plains of North America

Great Plains near Lincoln, Nebraska

from about the USA-Canada border to the USA-Mexico border. Unlike some other prairie dogs, these animals do not truly
hibernate. The black-tailed prairie dog can be seen above ground in midwinter. A black-tailed prairie dog town in Texas was
reported to cover 64,000 km2and included 400,000,000 individuals. Prior to habitat destruction, this species was probably the
most abundant prairie dog in central North America.

Black-tailed prairie dogs are generally tan in color, with lighter-colored bellies. Their tails have black tips, from which their name
is derived. Adults can weigh from 0.7 to 1.4 kg, males are typically heavier than females. Body length is normally from 36 to 43 cm, with a 7.6 to 10 cm tail.

Black-tailed prairie dog, Cynomys ludovicianus
Photo: Stolz, Gary M.

Black-tailed prairie dogs are diurnal. Aboveground activity is reduced when rain or snow is falling and during days when the
temperature exceeds 38°C. They do not hibernate, but may become dormant for short periods.

Black-tailed prairie dogs are native to grassland habitats in North America. They inhabit shortgrass prairie, mixed-grass prairie,
sagebrush steppe, and desert grassland.

ARKive video - Eagle hunting black-tailed prairie dogs
Eagle hunting black-tailed prairie dogs
Video: Mike Birkhead Associates
Audio The Hollywood Edge & Films@59

Habitat preferences for the black-tailed prairie dog are influenced by vegetative cover type, slope, soil type, and amount of
rainfall. Their foraging and burrowing activities influence environmental heterogeneity, hydrology, nutrient cycling, biodiversity,
landscape architecture, and plant succession in grassland habitats.

Prairie Dog
Photo: Dobert, Claire

Black-tailed prairie dogs are selective opportunists, preferring certain phenological stages or types of vegetation according to
their needs. When forage is stressed by grazing, drought, or herbicides, they change their diets quickly. Grasses are preferred
over forbs, and may comprise more than 75% of their diets, especially during summer. Western wheatgrass, buffalo grass, blue
grama and sedges, Carex spp. are preferred during spring and summer. Scarlet globemallow, Sphaeralcea coccinea and
Russian thistle, Salsola kali are preferred during late summer and fall, but are sought out during every season.During winter, plains
prickly pear , Opuntia polyacantha, Russian thistle, and underground roots are preferred. Shrubs such as rabbitbrush Chrysothamnus spp., winterfat, Krascheninnikovia lanata, saltbush, Atriplex spp., and sagebrush, Artemisia spp. are also
commonly eaten.Water, which is generally not available on the short-grass prairie, is obtained from vegetation such as plains
prickly pear. Cutworms, grasshoppers, and old or fresh American bison scat are occasionally eaten.

Text about the Black-tailed Prairie Dog: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-tailed_prairie_dog

San Joaquin kit fox, Vulpes macrotis mutica

San Joaquin kit fox, Vulpes macrotis mutica
Photo: Peterson, B. "Moose"

The kit fox, Vulpes macrotis is a fox species of North America. Its range is primarily in the southwestern United States and
northern and central Mexico.

The Kit fox has no recognized subspecies, although some populations have been proposed as subspecies.

The San Joaquin kit fox, Vulpes macrotis mutica, was formerly common in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Its 1990
population was estimated to be 7,000, and it is now considered endangered. On September 26, 2007, Wildlands Inc. announced
the designation of the 2.77 km2 Deadman Creek Conservation Bank, which is intended specifically to protect habitat of the
San Joaquin Kit fox.Causes of population declines include heavy competition with the red fox and habitat loss.

The desert kit fox, Vulpes macrotis arsipus, lives in the Mojave Desert.
The Southern California kit fox, Vulpes macrotis macrotis, was a population of kit foxes native to desert regions of
Southern California which became extinct in 1903.
So much from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kit_fox

San Joaquin kit fox, Vulpes macrotis mutica
Photo: Peterson, B. "Moose"

The San Joachin kit fox inhabits the chaparral, grasslands, and scrublands of the San Joaquin Valley of California, USA. Kit foxes live in dens. They also live in man made structures such as irrigation pipes, drainage culverts, spaces under buildings and storm drains.

The San Joaquin kit fox is the largest of the 8 subspecies of kit foxes. An adult kit fox stands 22-30 cm at the shoulder and
averages about 50 cm in body length. Its tail adds another 30 cm. Fully grown, the kit fox weighs about 2.3 kg.

A pair of San Joachin kit foxes stay together year round, but may not share a den. They can have as many as 24 different dens.
They reach sexual maturity at 22 months and mate from December to March. The female is pregnant for 48 to 52 days.
There can be 3-5 pups born at a time in a litter. They dig special pupping dens with several rooms. While the female is nursing
the pups, the male hunts for both of them. After 1 month the pups are weaned and leave the den. After 4-5 months the pups
can find their own food and leave the family.

San Joaquin kit foxes, Vulpes macrotis mutica
Photo: Peterson, B. "Moose"

San Joachin kit foxes eat ground squirrels, gophers, birds, and lizards and nocturnal rodents. They also eat kangaroo rats, mice,
black-tailed hares, antelope squirrels, cottontails, ground nesting birds, insects, vegetation, and grasses. As they eat both animals
and vegetation, they are omnivores.

The San Joachin kit fox's predators are coyotes and red foxes. Man is also a predator because he sometimes shoots or
poisons the San Joachim kit fox.

The kit fox is also threatened by man through hunting, electrocution, traffic, trapping and poisoning. The farmer might do this
because the kit fox is bothering his chickens and other farm animals. Much of the San Joaquin Valley has been turned into
farmland and developments. Grazing animals have destroyed the chaparral that protected the kit fox's prey. The Fish and
Wildlife Service of California has put the San Joachim kit fox on the threatened wildlife list.

California's San Joaquin Valley and Central Valley.

Text about the San Joaquin Fox: Vaughn R. 2002

Bighorn Sheep, Ovis canadensis

Bighorn Sheep at Point of Rocksn Nevada
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, USFWS

The bighorn sheep, Ovis canadensis is a species of sheep in North America named for its large horns. These horns can weigh up
to 14 kg, while the sheep themselves weigh up to 140 kg. Recent genetic testing indicates that there are three distinct subspecies
of Ovis canadensis, one of which is endangered: Ovis canadensis sierrae.

ARKive video - Bighorn sheep - overview
Bighorn sheep - overview
BBC Natural History Unit & Master Tracks

Bighorn sheep are named for the large, curved horns borne by the rams (males). Ewes (females) also have horns, but they are
shorter with less curvature. They range in color from light brown to grayish or dark, chocolate brown, with a white rump and
lining on the back of all four legs. Males typically weigh 58–143 kg, are 90–100 cm tall at the shoulder, and 180–200cm) long
from the nose to the tail. Females are typically 34–85 kg, 76–91 cm tall and 140–170 cm long. Male bighorn sheep have large
horn cores, enlarged cornual and frontal sinuses and internal bony septa. These adaptations serve to protect the brain by
absorbing the impact of clashes. Bighorn sheep have pre-orbital glands on the anterior corner of each eye, inguinal glands
in the groin and pedal glands on each foot. Secretions from these glands may support dominance behaviors.

Owens Valley, California, and the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada mountains
Photo: G. Thomas, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SierraEscarpmentCA.jpg

Bighorns from the Rocky Mountains are relatively large, with males that occasionally exceed 230 kg and females that exceed
90 kg. In contrast, Sierra Nevada Bighorn males weigh up to only 90 kg and females to 60 kg. Males' horns can weigh up to
14 kg, as much as the rest of the bones in the male's body.

Close view of male bighorn sheep, Ovis canadensis, laying in wildflowers
Photo: Hagerty, Ryan; , USFWS

The Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada Bighorn occupy the cooler mountainous regions of Canada and the United States.
In contrast, the desert bighorn sheep subspecies are indigenous to the hot desert ecosystems of the Southwestern United States.
Bighorn sheep generally inhabit alpine meadows, grassy mountain slopes and foothill country near rugged, rocky cliffs and bluffs.

Since bighorn sheep cannot move though deep snow, they prefer drier slopes where the annual snowfall is less than about 1.5 a year. A bighorn's winter range usually lies 800-1.500m in elevation, while its summer range is tends to be 1.600-2.500m.

Text about the Bighorn Sheep: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bighorn_sheep

Bobcat, Lynx rufus

Bobcat at Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge

The bobcat, Lynx rufus, is a North American mammal of the cat family Felidae.
With twelve recognized subspecies, it ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including most of the continental
United States. The bobcat is an adaptable predator that inhabits wooded areas, as well as semi-desert, urban edge, forest edges,
and swampland environments. It persists in much of its original range and populations are healthy.

With a gray to brown coat, whiskered face, and black-tufted ears, the bobcat resembles the other species of the mid-sized
Lynx genus. It is smaller on average than the Canada lynx, with which it shares parts of its range, but is about twice as large as
the domestic cat. It has distinctive black bars on its forelegs and a black-tipped, stubby tail, from which it derives its name.

Bobcat in snow

Though the bobcat prefers rabbits and hares, it will hunt anything from insects and small rodents to deer. Prey selection depends
on location and habitat, season, and abundance. Like most cats, the bobcat is territorial and largely solitary, although there is
some overlap in home ranges. It uses several methods to mark its territorial boundaries, including claw marks and deposits of
urine or feces. The bobcat breeds from winter into spring and has a gestation period of about two months.

The adult bobcat is 47.5 to 125 cm long from the head to the base of the tail, averaging 82 cm; the stubby tail adds 9 to 20 cm
and, due to its "bobbed" appearance, it gives the species its name. An adult stands about 30 to 60 cm at the shoulders. Adult
males can range in weight from 6.4 to 18.3 kg, with an average of 9.6 kg; females at 4.1 to 15.3 kg, with an average of 6.8 kg.
The largest bobcat accurately measured on record weighed 22.2 kg, although there are unverified reports of them reaching 27 kg.

Bobcat sitting in a tree
Photo: Kramer, Gary

The bobcat is crepuscular. It keeps on the move from three hours before sunset until about midnight, and then again from before
dawn until three hours after sunrise. Each night it will move from 3 to 11 km along its habitual route. This behavior may vary
seasonally, as bobcats become more diurnal during fall and winter. This is a response to the activity of their prey, which are more
active during the day in colder months.

ARKive video - Bobcat at deer carcass, grooms
Bobcat at deer carcass, grooms
BBC Natural History Unit

The bobcat is able to go for long periods without food, but will eat heavily when prey is abundant. During lean periods, it will
often prey on larger animals that it can kill and return to feed on later. The bobcat hunts by stalking its prey and then ambushing
it with a short chase or pounce. Its preference is for mammals about 0.7 to 5.7 kg. Its main prey varies by region. In the eastern
United States it is the eastern cottontail species, and in the north it is the snowshoe hare. When these prey species exist together,
as in New England, they are the primary food sources of the bobcat. In the far south, the rabbits and hare are sometimes
replaced by cotton rats as the primary food source. The bobcat is an opportunistic predator that, unlike the more specialized
Canadian lynx, will readily vary its prey selection.

Text about the Bobcat: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobcat

That brings us to the end of page 5 of this North American Wildlife tour.
As per February 21st, 2012, the next pages are not yet ready,
- will they ever be?

All pictures, if nothing else is mentioned, are taken from U.S.Fish & Wilflife Service,
National Digital Library at http://digitalmedia.fws.gov

They are all in public domain.


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