Mammals Of North America

An eastern chipmunk.

North America is one of the most beautiful continents in the world with diverse habitats. The continent also hosts some of the unique mammals including bison, prairie dog and black bears among others. North America is home to some of the most beautiful mammals in the world, both migrants and indigenous. Some of the unique mammals in the continent include:

15. North American Beaver

It is one of the extant species of beavers which is native to North America. The North American Beaver is the largest rodent in North America which weighs about 71pounds. Beavers are semi-aquatic, and just like capybara, they have webbed hind feet and flat big paddle-shaped tail. Their unwebbed smaller front feet have claws. They are double coated with fine inner hairs and longer coursed outer hairs which are usually dark brown. They are excellent swimmers who can stay submerged for 15 minutes. They are very active at night and build their home using mud, rocks, twigs, and sticks in lakes. They are well-known dam-builders, and they usually make their homes in artificial ponds. All their lodges have an underwater door which they use to escape a predator.

14. Harbor seal

Also referred to as common seal, they are the true seals which reside along the coastal waters of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and the North and Baltic seas. Their color ranges from grey or tan to brownish black. They have a round head with V-shaped nostrils and short flippers. Just like all the other seals, they do not have ears, but instead, they have ear canals which are located behind the eyes. Adult seals weigh up to 370pounds and attain a length of approximately 6.1ft. They stay in rocky regions where they are protected from predation and adverse weather conditions. They tend to congregate in estuaries or harbors while looking for preys.

13. Eastern Gray Squirrel

It is a tree squirrel belonging to the genus ‘’Sciurus’’. They are indigenous to eastern parts of North America, where they are prodigious and the best natural tree regenerators. They have a grey or brownish fur with a white underside. They have large bushy tails with a maximum length of 9.8in. The adult weighs up to 1.3pounds with a maximum length of 11.8in. They are scatter-hoarders which hoard food in various places. They have a very accurate memory and can remember all the places they stored their food. In the wild, they live in large regions of dense mature woodland ecosystem occupying an area of over 100acres. They prefer living in Oak-hickory hardwood forest as compared to coniferous forests.

12. River otter

The river otter is a semi-aquatic animal which resides along the North American coasts and water bays. It is a stocky mammal with a muscular neck and short legs plus it weighs between 11 to 31 pounds. An average adult female weighs about 18pounds while the male weighs 25pounds. The length of its body ranges from 26 to 42in with a third of their body-length being occupied by the long tail. They have short furs which vary in color from black to light brown. They are very active throughout the year, especially at night and during twilight. Their long tails help with stability when swimming. River otter settle in aquatic regions made up of rock piles and vegetations which include estuaries, marshes, coastal shorelines, rivers, and lakes.

11. Gray Wolf

It is a canine indigenous to the remote regions and wilderness of North America and Eurasia. It is the largest member of the ‘’Canidae’’ species. Gray wolfs can attain a length of up to 63inches and a shoulder height of about 33inches. Weighing about 79pounds, they are heavier and larger than the golden jackal and coyote. They have longer tails, shorter torso and ears and broader snouts than the other Canidae species. They are social animals which live in a pack up to 11 members. Gray wolfs rarely adopt others into their packs and if they do the adoptee has to be immature (1-3years) or a lone wolf to replace a deceased member. They are territorial animals which establish larger territories thus ensuring a constant supply of food. They are habitat generalists and can live in arctic tundras, forests, grasslands, and deserts.

10. Eastern Chipmunk

The eastern chipmunks are the only surviving members of the ‘’Tamias’’ subgenus. They reside in the eastern parts of North America. They have reddish-brown fur with five dark-brown to light brown stripes on their back. The eastern chipmunks have two fewer teeth as compared to the other chipmunks. They have five toes on the hind legs and four on the front legs. Weighing approximately 0.33pounds, they live in urban parks and deciduous wooded regions. They prefer places with shrubs, log piles and rocks. Even though it can climb trees, eastern chipmunks build underground nests which have extensive tunnel systems.

9. Star-nosed mole

It is a small creature living in the wet-low regions of North America. Moles have 22 pink fleshy appendages on its snout which it uses as a touch organ. The appendages have over 25,000 small sensory receptors called Eimer’s organ. The star-nosed mole uses this organ to detect a seismic wave vibration. Their bodies are covered with blackish-brown and water repellent thick fur. They have a thick long tail which works as a fat reserve. The mole prefers living in wet regions and marshes. They are excellent swimmers which forage at the bottom of the ponds and streams. It is active both at night and day plus it remains super active during winter.

8. Mexican long-nosed bat

They reside in the open woodlands and desert scrub in the United States and Mexico. These bats are sooty-brownish in color. They are lighter ventrally and darker dorsally. They have an elongated muzzle with longer tongues which are tipped with filiform papillae. They have an erected, triangular nose-leaf. Mexican long-nosed bats weigh about 0.05pounds. These creatures have 0.59in long ears and short tails. Just like all the other nectarivores, this bat has weakly cusped two molars and no third molar.

7. Black-tailed jackrabbit

The black-tailed jackrabbit is a common hare found in Mexico and western United States at elevated sea levels of up to 10,000ft. Weighing up to 6pounds, the jackrabbit is the third largest rabbit in the continent. It has long powerful hind legs and distinctively long ears. They have creamy white underside including inside the legs and dark buff dorsal fur which are peppered with black. They reside in the mixed shrub-grassland terrains of North America. They breed during the peaks in spring, but breeding can continue all year long in warm regions. Their diet is made up of forbs, grasses, small trees, and shrubs.

6. Killer Whale

Killer whale is the biggest mammal of the oceanic-dolphin family. They can be found in all the oceans in different marine environments. Killer whales are present in all tropical seas except the Black and Baltic seas. During the day these whales engage in various behaviors including socializing, resting, traveling and foraging. On the surface of the ocean, they love tail slapping and jumping out of the water. They have white sides and chest and a black back with white patches behind the eye and above the ear. They have big-bodies with large fins measuring up to 5.9ft. Male whales weigh about 6tonnes while the largest female weighs about 7.5tonnes. The largest killer whale is about 26ft.

5. American Bison

The American bison is a North American buffalo which once roamed the continent in herds. Due to the combination of massive hunting and slaughtering and introduction of bovine diseases, these animals almost became extinct during the 19th century. Bison have shaggy, dark-brown long winter coats and light brown lighter coats during summer. With a shoulder height of up to 17in, these animals weigh between 701 and 2,205 pounds. They are herbivores which graze on the sedges and grasses of the North American prairies. Their daily activity includes over two hours of grazing, resting and finally chewing the cud.

4. Manatee

Manatees are fully aquatic large herbivorous marine creatures which are at times referred to as the sea cows. Manatees weigh up to 1,300 pounds and are 13.1ft long and paddle-like flippers. The sea cows have large flexible upper lips which they use to gather and eat food. They have a shorter snout than the dugongs. Adult manatees have no canine or incisors, but they have a set of cheek teeth. These teeth are replaced throughout their lives, and at any given time they have a maximum of 12 teeth in both jaws. They usually spend over half of their day sleeping submerged and the surface after every twenty minutes for air. The other half is spent grazing.

3. Jaguar

A jaguar is a wildcat and the only extant member of ‘’Panthera’’ which are indigenous to the American continents. Currently, they can be found in Mexico, southwestern part of the United States, Argentina, and Paraguay. They are the third largest cats right after the lion and tiger. Jaguars are spotted cats which resemble a leopard but are sturdier and larger. They thrive in swamps, and subtropical and tropical moist broadleaf forests. The color of their coats ranges from reddish-brown to tawny yellow with their ventral regions being white. The shapes and sizes of the spots vary from one part of the body to the other. Their body weight ranges from 123 to 212 pounds. They have short, but sturdy and thick legs. Jaguars enjoy swimming, and they are opportunistic stalk-and-ambush hunters.

2. Deer mouse

They are the new-world mice which are related to the laboratory and common house mouse. The ‘’Peromyscus maniculatus’’ are indigenous to North America and are often referred to as the North American deer mouse.They have relatively large eyes, and they have 2-tone coloring with their abdomen and limbs being white and their back having dark colors. Compared to the house mouse they are accomplished runner and jumpers. They are known carriers of various infectious diseases like Lyme and hantaviruses. They are about 4inches long, and they have large ears and eyes which gives them excellent hearing and sight. They are nocturnal animals which spend their daytime in burrow and trees.

1. Black-tailed Prairie Dog

Unlike all the other prairies, these creatures do not hibernate, and they can be seen roaming around in midwinter. They are tan in color and the colors of their fur range from brown to black tones. These prairies have black-tipped tails, and they weigh about 3pounds, Their body size ranges from 14 to 17inches with a 3in tail. They have a compact body with tiny ears which are close to their heads. They are diurnal creatures, and above-ground activities are done when it’s snowing or raining and during hotter days when the temperature surpasses 38 °C. They reside in the grassland regions of North America.


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