Gain fundamental, practical knowledge of your surroundings.
“Small but Mighty” may be the best way to describe our Easy Field Guides, reviewed by our own Yvonne Prater, Director of Operations. Each book is fully illustrated, and filled with a plethora of interesting facts that are easy to understand to help answer the thoughtful question, “What is that?”
If you missed them, you can read Yvonne’s first eight Field Guide reviews here. This is the ninth guide in the series and is titled “Common Mammals of Arizona.”
From the Low Desert to the High Mountains
Arizona has a wide variety of habitats ranging from areas just above sea level in the southwest part of the state to more than two miles above sea level in the north. This guide breaks down common Arizona mammals into five categories: bats, carnivores, hares and rabbits, hoofed and rodents. This guide also shows the approximate range where a particular mammal resides. Measurements for length (which consists of body and head), height, weight and tail are average figures.
While most of us are already familiar with the common coyote, javelina and bobcat, let’s familiarize ourselves with a couple of other mammals not seen as often:
- The Kit Fox, scientifically known as the Vulpes Macrotis, is the smallest species of the Fox in North America and is a carnivore residing primarily in arid desert climates of the southwest. With a length of about 17 inches, a height of about 12 inches and a tail of about 10 inches long, they are considered to be rather small mammals. In fact, they weigh only about 4 pounds and are scarcely larger than a house cat and the small size and big ears makes them easy to identify. But since they are largely nocturnal and very secretive, this fox is seldom seen. They live in underground burrows on the flats at the base of mountains and hills and are an important part of the ecosystem. The Kit Fox eats small rodents and birds, snakes, lizards, insects and occasionally vegetation. Their color is grayish/buff with lighter underparts.
- And who doesn’t like spotting a beautiful Bighorn Sheep? Being one of my favorites, the Desert Bighorn, scientifically known as the Ovis Canadensis, is a subspecies of the Bighorn Sheep, and is a hoofed mammal. They are highly adapted for desert climates and can go for extended periods without drinking. They reside primarily in the same regions as the Kit Fox, above. They are about 5 feet in length, 3 feet in height and weigh about 125 pounds, similar in size to a mule deer. The Desert Bighorn is the rarest of all North American wild sheep. The best chance to see these distinctive mammals is along the Colorado River or near Salt River lakes during the summer. The Desert Bighorn mainly eats grasses, but may partake in cacti if grasses are not available. They are tan in color and often range in herds. Rams have heavy, curled horns, and those of the females are straighter and smaller.
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There is great pleasure to be had from gaining fundamental, practical knowledge of your surroundings. I hope you enjoy and anticipate each month the selected topics in this series. You can find much more information regarding Common Mammals of Arizona in this Easy Field Guide. These guides are published by American Traveler Press and can be found in the River of Time gift shop, Riverbanks. We are open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.