Unique Mammals of North America

Look for more information about the red fox, black-tailed prairie dog, bobcat and moose.

| April 2018


If you are interested in learning more about mammals and their habitats, Mammals of North America, (Firefly Books, 1999) by Adrian Forsyth, is a great choice for you. Forsyth has filled the pages with pictures and information surrounding each unique mammal. If you are curious about marsupials, meat-eaters, bats, and more, you are sure to find something that peaks your interest.

Black-Tailed Prairie Dog

Cynomys ludovicianus

 prairie dog
Photograph © Glen and Rebecca Grambo/First Light

Prairie dogs are among the most social of North American squirrels, and their behavior is the most elaborate of all. One prairie dog town in Texas contained an estimated 400 million inhabitants and covered an area that extended 25,000 square miles.

Named for their barklike warning call, black-tailed prairie dogs are at the extreme end of the scale of ground squirrel evolutionary tendencies. They are stouter than their cousins, they remain active except during the very coldest winter weather, and instead of using cheek pouches to carry and cache seeds, they eat large quantities of leafy vegetation and have evolved bigger incisors and molars for the job.

The densely packed “towns” in which they live alter the landscape of western grasslands. Before poisoning campaigns exterminated wholesale numbers of prairie dogs, their towns used to reach staggering sizes. Such large colonies may have had a mutually beneficial relationship with the vast bison and pronghorn antelope herds that ranged the same areas. The herds are thought to have grazed plants that the prairie dogs shunned, and the buffalo wallows encouraged the grassy and herbaceous vegetation favored by the prairie dogs.

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