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.