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Today's Wildlife Field Identification Guide  

Small Mammals

Small mammals are smaller-sized, warm-blooded animals with hair. Young are nourished with milk from the mother. Examples are foxes, rabbits, and squirrels. Small mammals are found throughout North America.

Range Maps

All animal descriptions are accompanied by a map showing the animal's habitat range. The maps are color-coded as follows:

  Summer Range
  Winter Range
  All-Year Range
Armadillo, Nine-Banded
Armadillo
Credit:Texas Parks & Wildlife
Armadillo Tracks
Small cat-sized with grayish-brown armor-plated body.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives mainly in woodlands, brushy areas, farmlands, and bluff country. Omnivorous; roots around in damp, moist leaves and brush for its food. Four young of same sex born Mar. - Apr.
Armadillo Area Map
Badger, American
Badger
Credit:Texas Parks & Wildlife
Badger Tracks
Medium-sized with short black legs and yellowish-gray hair. Medium white stripe over head to nose, white cheeks, and black patch in front of each ear. Long front claws for digging.

Habitat and Habits:
Lives in open grasslands, deserts, and thickets of shrubs and trees. Carnivorous; feeds mainly on small rodents. Lives 12 years. Breeds during Jul. - Aug.; two to five young; one litter per year.
Badger Area Map
Beaver, American
American Beaver
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
American Beaver Tracks
Large-sized, brown rodent; naked tail, scaly and paddle-shaped. Large chestnut-colored front teeth and webbed short feet for swimming.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives in streams, rivers, ponds, or lakes. Constructs houses of sticks, logs, and mud or burrows in banks; builds dams serving as habitat. Herbivorous. Lives up to 11 years. Two to four kits born Apr. - Jul.
American Beaver Area Map
Coatimundi
Coatimundi Coatimundi tracks
Member of the raccoon family. Long snout; bear-like paws; reddish, brown, or black coat and white undercoat; usually has a white-ringed tail.

Habitat and Habits:

Varied. Hot, dry areas, rainforests, and cold mountain slopes. 3-7 young born after 11-week gestation.
Coatimundi Area
Ferret, Black-footed
Ferret Ferret area
Protected. Weasel-like in shape, but heavier. Cream or yellowish-brown upper body; ears, chin, and throat fading to white. Dark brown to black feet and tail; dark mask below eyes. Habitat and Habits:
Lives on grasslands, steppe, and shrub steppe; usually found in prairie dog towns. Carnivorous. One to five young born about June, appearing above ground in July and dispersing in the fall.
Fisher
Fisher
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Fisher Tracks
Long bodied, dark brown to nearly black with grayish head.

Habitat and Habits:
Lives in mixed coniferous and hardwood forests. Good climbers and swimmers, at home on the ground or in trees. Omnivorous. One to six young born Mar. - Apr.
Fisher Area Map
Fox, Common Gray
Common Gray Fox
Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife
Common Gray Fox Tracks
Medium-sized with salt-and-pepper fur; face is white under gray and rust; rust color on neck, flanks, and legs; bushy tail topped with black stripe and tip.

Habitat and Habits:
Lives in thickets of shrubs or trees, open woodlands, and rocky areas. Omnivorous. Mostly nocturnal. Three to seven young born Apr. - May.
Gray Fox Area Map
Kit Fox
Kit Fox
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Kit Fox Tracks
Small- to medium-sized with pale gray to buff yellow body; whitish underside; large ears; black-tipped tail.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives in open deserts or plains with low vegetation. Carnivorous. Feeds primarily on small rodents and insects. Nocturnal. Four to seven pups born Feb. - Apr.
Kit Fox Area Map
Fox, Red
Red Fox
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Red Fox Tracks
Medium-sized, usually reddish-yellow but sometimes gray; can range from darker to lighter; bushy tail with white tip; usually dark legs and paws.

Habitat and Habits:
Lives in mixed woodlands, farming areas, and open country. Carnivorous. Three to seven young born Apr. - May.
Red Fox Area Map
Hare, Snowshoe
Snowshoe Hare
Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Snowshoe Hare Tracks
A large-footed hare with black-tipped, relatively small ears. In summer, dark brown with small tail dark above and dusky to white below. In winter, white on tips of hairs that remain dark at base.

Habitat and Habits:
Lives in swamps, forests, and thickets. One of the shyest of the hares, tries to hide in brush. Nocturnal. Mostly Herbivorous, but fond of frozen meat. One to six young per litter; 2 - 3 litters per year.
Snowshoe Hare Area Map
Jackrabbit, Black-Tailed
Jackrabbit
Credit:Texas Parks & Wildlife
Jackrabbit Tracks
Medium-sized with grayish-brown fur with large black-tipped ears and black streak on top of short tail.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives in prairies, shrublands and semi-arid deserts. Herbivorous. Two to four young per litter.
Jackrabbit Area Map
Mink
Mink
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Mink Tracks
Medium-sized with dark brown fur and white chin patch; tail slightly bushy.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives along rivers, streams, marshes, ponds, and lakes. Carnivorous. Polygamous. Four to ten young born Jan. - Mar.
Mink Area Map
Muskrat, Common
Common Muskrat
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Common Muskrat Tracks
Small-sized with brown to grayish-brown fur and grayish underside; black, scaly tail; partially-webbed hind feet.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives in marshes, ponds, and streams. Omnivorous, feeds primarily on aquatic vegetation, but also on frogs, and small fish on occasion. Two to six young per litter; two to three litters per year.
Common Muskerat Area Map
Nutria
Nutria
Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, J. & K. Hollingsworth
Nutria Tracks
Medium-sized, grayish-brown rodent with long, round tail with few hairs. Hind feet are webbed.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives in marshes, swamps, ponds, and lakes. Herbivorous. Lives up to four years. Nocturnal. Two to eleven young born throughout the year.
Nutria Area Map
Opossum, Virginia
Virginia Opossum
Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Ed McCrea
Virginia Opossum Tracks
Small- to medium-sized with gray to dark gray fur; whitish face; small ears; rat-like tail.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives in woodland, and farming areas; also found in urban areas. Omnivorous. Nocturnal. Up to 14 young per litter several times a year. Young remain in mother’s pouch for several months.
Virginia Opossum Area Map
Otter, River
River Otter
Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife
River Otter Tracks
Protected. Large-sized and weasel-like with brown fur and silvery face, chin, and underside; feet webbed; tail thick at base.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives in aquatic habitats around marshes, ponds, and streams. Carnivorous; feeds on fish, frogs, crayfish, and crustacea. Lives more than 14 years. One to five young.
River Otter Area Map
Pine Marten
Pine Marten
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Pine Marten Tracks
Dark brown to blond, with an orange or tan throat patch, dark legs, light-colored head, and long bushy tail.

Habitat and Habits:
Prefers coniferous forests or cedar swamps. Active late afternoon, early mornings, and at night. Omnivorous, primarily carnivorous. Two to five young.
Pine Marten Map
Porcupine
Porcupine
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Porcupine Tracks
Large rodent, size of small dog; chunky body with short legs. Color varies from black to brownish-yellow. Sharp spines on rump and tail.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives in forests or in brushy areas. Herbivorous; likes salt. Lives 7 - 8 years. Primarily nocturnal. Mates in fall; one young born May - Jun.
Porcupine Area Map
Prairie Dog
Prairie Dog
Credit:Texas Parks & Wildlife
Prairie Dog Tracks
Small-sized with tan to reddish fur; small ears; light-colored underside; black-tipped short tail.

Habitat and Habits:
Lives in dry upland prairies in colonies or “towns” of burrows. Herbivorous mostly but may eat some insects. Three to five young born Mar. - Apr.
Prairie Dog Area Map
Rabbit, Eastern Cottontail
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, William Janus
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit Tracks
Small-sized with brownish-gray fur with cottontail; large ears but not as large as jackrabbit.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives in heavy brush in forests, farmlands, thickets of shrubs or trees, swamplands, and weed patches. Herbivorous. Four to seven young per litter; three to four litters per year.
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit Area Map
Rabbit, Swamp
Swamp Rabbit
Credit:Texas Parks & Wildlife
Swamp Rabbit Tracks
Small with brownish-gray fur and roundish dark tail; large ears but not as large as jackrabbit.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives in heavy brush in forests, farmlands, thickets of shrubs or trees, swamplands, and weed patches. Herbivorous. Four to seven young per litter; three to four litters per year.
Swamp Rabbit Area Map
Raccoon, Common
Common Raccoon
Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife
Common Raccoon Tracks
Medium-sized with dark and light mixed fur; distinctive black mask across white face; small- to medium-sized ears and ringed tail.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives in woods, often near water; also found in urban areas. Omnivorous. Nocturnal. Two to seven young born Apr. - May.
Common Raccoon Area Map
Ringtail
Ringtail
Credit:Texas Parks & Wildlife
Ringtail Tracks
Small- to medium-sized with yellowish gray to darker fur; long whitish and blackish-brown ringed tail; small head and medium-sized ears.

Habitat and Habits:
Lives in rocky ridges, cliffs, thickets of shrubs or trees, semi-deserts, and near water. Omnivorous. Lives up to eight years. Nocturnal. Three to four young born May - Jun.
Ringtail Area Map
Skunk, Hog-Nosed
Hog-nosed Skunk
Credit:Texas Parks & Wildlife
Hog-nosed Skunk Tracks
Medium-sized with black fur and solid white back and tail; long pig-like snout.

Habitat and Habits:
Lives in semi-open prairies, thickets of shrubs or trees, mixed woods, rocky areas, and shrublands. Omnivorous. Mostly nocturnal. Two to four young born Apr. - May.
Hog-nosed Skunk Area Map
Skunk, Spotted
Spotted Skunk
Credit:Texas Parks & Wildlife
Spotted Skunk Tracks
Small-sized with black fur and white patches on forehead and under ears; four broken white stripes along neck, back, and sides; white-tipped tail.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives in shrublands, farming areas, open wooded lots, along streams, and prairies. Carnivorous. Nocturnal. Like striped skunk, emits a strong scent in defense. Four to seven young born May - Jun.
Spotted Skunk Area Map
Skunk, Striped
Striped Skunk
Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife
Striped Skunk Tracks
Medium-sized with black fur and white stripes from head to tail. Habitat and Habits:
Lives in semi-open prairies, farming areas, thickets of shrubs or trees, and mixed woods near water. Omnivorous. Mostly nocturnal. Emits a strong scent in defense. Five to six young born in May.
Striped Skunk Area Map
Squirrel, Abert's
Abert's Squirrel Abert's Squirrel area
Large tree squirrel with reddish ear tufts or “tassels.” Gray body with rusty stripe down back; white belly. Tassels reduced or absent in summer. Habitat and Habits:
Lives in isolated mountainous areas, such as 5,000 - 9,000 feet elevations along the Mogollon Plateau and White Mountains. Often found among ponderosa pine trees. Average of four young per litter born April - May; more than one litter in some years.
Squirrel, Eastern Fox
Eastern Fox Squirrel
Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife
Eastern Fox Squirrel Area Map
Larger rusty-yellowish with orange-red underside and brushy tail tipped with darker hairs.   Habitat and Habits:
Lives in open woodlands, river bottoms, and pine forests with interspersed clearings. Herbivorous. Lives up to 10 years. Two to five young born in Jan. and May.
Squirrel, Eastern Gray
Eastern Gray Squirrel
Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Ryan Hagerty
Eastern Gray Squirrel Area Map
Medium-sized with inner yellowish-rusty and gray or white-tipped hairs; lighter underside and bushy tail with varying dark hairs with white or yellow tips.   Habitat and Habits:
Lives in forests, river bottoms, pine forests interspersed with hardwoods, and clearings. Herbivorous. Lives up to 15 years. Two to five young per litter.
Squirrel, Thirteen-Lined Ground
Ground Squirrel
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Ground Squirrel Area Map
Brownish with 13 alternating brown and whitish stripes on back and sides; whitish spots within brown stripes.
Habitat and Habits:
Lives in shortgrass prairies and other areas where grass is kept short. Omnivorous; primarily feeds on vegetation and insects. Usually solitary. Eight to ten young per litter, born in May.
Squirrel, Red
Red Squirrel
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Red Squirrel Area Map
Smallest of tree squirrels in its range. Yellowish or reddish back and whitish belly; bushy tail.   Habitat and Habits:
Lives in coniferous or mixed hardwood forests. Nests in tree cavities or branches. Herbivorous. Lives up to 10 years. Three to seven young born Mar. - Apr.
Weasel, Long-Tailed
Long-tailed Weasel
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Long-tailed Weasel Tracks
Long-bodied and short-legged; brown back and white or yellow underside; long tail with black tip.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives on all types of land, preferably near water. Carnivorous. Mostly nocturnal. Four to eight young born Apr. - May.
Long-tailed Weasel Area Map
Wolverine
Wolverine
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Wolverine Tracks
Dark brown and bear-like with yellowish stripes starting at the shoulder and joining at the rump.

Habitat and Habits:

Lives close to the timberline or on the tundra. Omnivorous, primarily carnivorous. Travels miles in search of food. Primarily nocturnal. Young born Feb. - Apr.
Wolverine Area Map
Wildlife Guide
White-tailed deer tracks
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Online wildlife identification guide last modified: January 3, 2008
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