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The large mammal group typically includes horned animals, antlered animals, bears, and large members of the wild cat or wild dog families.

Horned or antlered animals have these key characteristics.

  • Horns are hollow and are not shed. Wild sheep and goats have horns.
  • Antlers are solid bone and are shed annually. Members of the deer family have antlers and rub their antlers on trees.
  • Horned and antlered animals are cloven-hoofed (their hooves have two parts).
  • Horned and antlered animals are ruminants (they chew cud). A ruminant digests its food in two steps. First they eat food and regurgitate it (cud), and then they eat it a second time. They have a hard upper pad that they use to mash their food.

Characteristics of Mammals

  • Mammals are warm-blooded animals with hair. Young are nourished with milk from the mother.
  • Mammals can be carnivorous (meat eating), herbivorous (plant eating), or omnivorous (meat and plant eating).
  • Mammals seek to regulate their temperature. Mammals in cold climates must keep warm, and mammals in hot climates must keep cool.
  • Small mammals live shorter lives than large mammals, in general.
  • Mammals vary in social behavior—some species live in groups, and other species are solitary except when mating or raising offspring.

Some Large Mammals and Their Tracks

White-tailed deer tracks of a white-tailed deer
Pronghorn antelope tracks of a pronghorn antelope
Rocky mountain elk tracks of a rocky mountain elk