Wildlife Fact File - Mammals, Pgs. 131-140
Water Vole, Mountain Zebra, Bandicoot, American Quarter Horse, Fallow Deer, Pronghorn, Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, Alpine...
"" CARD 131
~~----------------------------------------~ ORDER FAMILY GENUS ~
KEY FACTS SIZES Length: 6-9 in. Tail, to 6 in . Weight: 5-11 oz.
BREEDING Sexual maturity: 5 weeks in females in some locations. Breeding season: March to October. Gestation: 20-22 days. No. of young : Usually 4-6 . LIFESTYLE Habit: Lives in small family groups. Diet: Mainly grasses and waterside plants. Call: Rasping squeak when frightened; high, shrill squeak when fighting . lifespan: About 5 months in the wild; up to 5 years in captivity. RElATED SPECIES There are 3 species of water vole worldwide.
Range of water voles.
DISTRIBUTION Found in most of Great Britain, Europe (except Scandinavia and southern areas), and part of the Soviet Union. Also in southwestern Canada and northwestern United States. CONSERVATION Water voles are hunted fo r their fur in the Soviet Union but are considered pests in Europe. In Britain their numbers have declined in the last decade.
T HE WATER VOLE'S AQUATIC LIFE Smoke screen: When chased underwater by an enemy such as an otter, the vole raises a cloud of mud that acts as a smoke screen.
Water voles are aquatic mammals that look like large rats. They live mainly in meadows, but some kinds can be found along the banks of rivers, ponds, and canals.
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Burrow: There are several underwater entrances to the burrow, providing easy access-and a good escape route if chased by a predator.
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As their name implies, water voles are at home in water. But in central Europe and further east, water voles are often found living far from water, in gardens, orchards, and meadows. Altogether there are three species of water vole, located in Britain, continental Europe, Siberia, southwestern Asia, and northwestern North America.
~ BEHAVIOR The male water vole has a range of over 425 feet of water bank; the female somewhat less. To mark its territory, the male rakes its hind feet over its flank gland and pushes out a secretion that it then stamps into the Below: Water voles swim and dive with great skill.
ground with its hind feet . Water voles generally do not form large colonies. Those that live on dry land may form groups consisting of the adult pair and two generations of young . Water voles will fight if they are overcrowded, uttering high, shrill squeaks.
NATU REWATCH ally b rown, but it ca n also be b lack. A water vole's presence can often be detected by its green ish, cylindrica l droppings . These tend to be de posited around t he edges of its range .
it is easy to confuse a water
l vole w it h a water rat , b ut in I I
fact its m uzzle is b lunter, its tai l is shorter, an d its back is not quite as a rched . Also, its fu r is soft and shaggy, w hile t he rat's is stiff and sleek. Li ke t he rat, the water vole is usu-
~ FOOD &: FEEDING Active by day and night, the water vole eats mainly grasses and waterside plants. It tears at the plant stems and pushes them into its mouth with its front paws. It will also eat twigs, buds, bulbs, roots, and fallen fruit. In Europe, when seasonal conditions provide plenty of food for several years, "plagues" of water voles may occur. They eat greedily, leaving green pastures looking almost like deserts, undermined with burrows. The population then drops
dramatically, probably because of a lack of food.
Above: Water voles gnaw the roots of young trees.
DID YOU KNOW? In the British Isles water voles live in burrows that they dig in the banks of slow-flowing lowland rivers or in ponds and streams-wherever the water level remains fairly constant. They are also occasionally found further upland . Within their burrows they build ball-shaped nests of grass and other plant material. They may also build these nests under driftwood or on the water bank, if there is thick vegetation . In central Europe, the Soviet
Union, and parts of Asia, water voles are more similar to moles in their lifestyle. In these regions they may be found far from water, burrowing close to the surface in woodlands, meadows, and even gardens. North American water voles are semi-aquatic. In the summer they often build tunnels that link their burrows to nearby waterways. In winter they move away from the water and build their nests under the snow.
Breeding generally begins in March and may continue until late fall. Females usually have three or four litters a year. The young of the first litter may produce litters of two by the end of summer. The water vole's gestation period is 20 to 22 days, and up to eight young may be born. By 5 days the young have their furry coats, and 3 days later they open their eyes. They are weaned at 14 days, by which time they are about half the adult size.
- During its first week the water vole ga ins more than a quarter-o unce. - A fema le water vole can give bi rth 22 days after its previous litter. - More than 40 water voles may live on one acre. In Holland, water voles can threaten the tulip harvest because they eat Hl'e tuli p bulbs in winter.
Left: Babies are born blind and
naked, weighing less than twotenths of an ounce.
MOUNTAIN ZEBRA GROUP 1: MAMMALS . . . ORDER "11IIIIIIII Perissodactyla
FAM ILY Equidae
GENUS &: SPECI ES Equus zebra
KEY FACTS SIZES Height t o shoulder: 3-4 ft. Length: Head and body, 7 ft. Tail, 1 ~ ft. Weight: 570 lb. BREEDING Sexual maturity: 2 years. Mating season: Usually spring . Gestation: 11 ~ -12 months. No. of young: Usually 1 . LI FESTYLE Habit: Lives in small herds. Diet: Mainly grass. Call: Neighs like a horse. Lifespan: Up to 28 years.
RELATED SPECIES The family Equidae has 7 living species in 1 genus, Equus, wh ich includes horses and asses.
Range of the mountain zebra.
DISTRIBUTION Found in the wild only in the two mountainous reg ions of southwestern Africa . Once common in South Africa's Cape Province and southern Angola. CONSERVATION The Cape mountain zebra, a subspecies, nearly became extinct. The whole species is now protected but is vulnerable.
THE ZEBRA AND ITS STRIPE S
STRIPES OF TH E GREVY'S AND PLAINS ZEBRAS
Experts argue over why the zebra has a striped coat. It was once thought to function as camouflage, but this explanation is no longer generally accepted. It is more likely that the coat acts as a bright signal to others in the herd . It may also help foals identify their mothers.
Grevy's zebra: Narrow vertical stripes on body but none on belly. Stripes curve up on the haunches.
The few mountain zebras left in the wild live in the mountain grasslands of southwestern Africa. The pattern of their distinctive stripes is as individual as a human fingerprint.
under its neck, caUed a dewlap, is not found on the two other species. © MCMXCI IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM
Plains zebra: Broad vertical stripes extend around belly. Horizontal stripes on haunches. PRINTED IN U.S.A.
~ MOUNTAIN ZEBRA & MAN
The mountain zebra is found in Angola, Namibia,
Farmers once regarded the mountain zebra as a pest because it competed with cattle for grazing. They shot zebras in large numbers and were given a reward for each tail. The hunting nearly killed off one subspecies-the Cape
and western and southeastern South Africa. It is well adapted to arid conditions and can survive for up to three days without water. Later, when searching for water, it may dig down as far as three feet in a riverbed.
~ HABITS The mountain zebra is an agile climber ideally suited to southwestern Africa's mountainous grasslands. This member of the horse family lives in small herds, often with some antelopes. The zebra's keen hearing and eyesight make it quick to warn others in the herd when their main enemy, the lion, is near. A herd usually consists of a stallion with one to six mares and their young. The noma-
mountain zebra. In 1913 the last 27 animals received protection in a national park near Cradock in South Africa. The population has since grown. Zebras are popular in zoos and circuses, but they are not easily tamed.
~ BREEDING dic group is led by a mare. The stallion follows at the rear or walks on one side to defend the herd. In their second year males leave to form a bachelor herd. Later, they collect mares to form their own herd, or they take over an existing herd from a weak, older stallion.
The female comes into heat (is ready to mate) several times a year, but she usually mates so the birth coincides with spring's abundant grass. During courtship the stallion nips at the mare's legs, kneels down in front of her, and makes squealing noises. She signifies acceptance by angling back her ears and opening her mouth wide. A single foal is born and is up on its feet within an hour.
Right: Mountain zebras are social members of the horse family that gather in small herds.
~ FEEDING The mountain zebra spends many hours a day grazing, always remaining alert to predators. It searches for tender shoots of grass but often has to fill up on coarser grass. If necessary, the zebra left: The mountain zebra's rump has narrow horizontal stripes.
eats the bark, leaves, buds, and fruit of trees. It has sharp incisor teeth to cut the grass and ridged cheek teeth to grind it to a semi pulp. The mountain zebra has adapted to its extremely arid habitat and can go without water for three days or more.
DID YOU KNOW?
• The three zebra species are no more closely related to each other than they are to horses and asses, which belong to the same family. • Zebras graze for 60 to 80 percent of the day. • Zebras mix with other
grass-eaters such as wildebeest since they eat grass at different stages of growth. • When grooming itself, the zebra likes to roll in mud. When the mud dries and is shaken off, it pulls loose hair and dry skin away with it.
After a few hours it is ready to move with the herd, so that there is little chance for a lion to make a kill. The foal can graze within a month or two, although it may not be fully weaned for a year. The young stay with the herd for about two years. Then the males are driven out by the stallion. Some females may be lured away by another stallion. Below: The foal is up and active from the day it is born.
' " CARD 133
'(-----------------------------~~~~~~~~ GENUS & SPECIES FAMILY ORDER ~
~ f'El I:£.J
SIZES Length: 6 in.-2 ft. Weight: ' /2-10 lb. BREEDING Sexual maturity: Female, from 3 months. Male, from 4 months. Mating: Varies by region . Gestation: From 12 days. 50 days in the pouch. No. of young: Up to 7. LIFESTYLE Habit: Nocturnal, grounddwelling, solitary, territorial. Diet: Invertebrates, small vertebrates, seeds, berries, tubers, and fungi. Lifespan: 3 or more years. RELATED SPECIES The 2 species of bilby that form the family Thylacomyidae are closely related. Also known as rabbit-eared bandicoots.
Range of the bandicoot.
DISTRIBUTION Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea and the nearby Kai, Aru, Bismarck, Ceram, and D'Entrecasteaux Islands. CONSERVATION The impact of introduced animals has helped drive two Australian species to extinction and reduced the range of several others. Bandicoots are protected by law, and some are restricted to reserves .
SOME BANDICOOT SPECIES
Short-nosed golden bandicoot, Isoodon auratus: Inhabits arid, sandy plains and open woodland in central and northern AustFalia. Glossy golden coat with white belly. Short-nosed brindled bandicoot, Isoodon macrourus: Inhabits coasts of northeastern Australia and southern New Guinea. Long-nosed eastern barred bandicoot, Perameles gunnii: A small bandicoot with a patterned rump. Lives in both arid areas and woodland; prefers the grasslands of Victoria, Australia and Tasmania.
The bandicoot spends the night rooting around and digging holes in search of food. An active, alert ground dweller, it belongs to that diverse mixture of pouched mammals, the marsupials. ©MCMXCI IMP BV/IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILpM
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Bandicoots are native to forests, plains, and deserts throughout Australia and New Guinea. Once there were 17 species, but two of these are already extinct. Others have declined sharply and, as a result of habitat loss through farming and other disruptions, are unlikely to recover.
and eventually bulges along her body length. As early as seven weeks after birth the young are ready to leave the pouch; they are weaned about 10 days later. The female can mate again before her young leave the pouch, so as soon as they are weaned she may be ready to bear the next litter. Three litters per year are usual.
left: Bandicoots have powerful hind legs, a rough coat, and a tapered snout.
Right: The female's pouch opens to
the rear, enabling the young to climb in and out easily.
left: A rare glimpse inside the female's pouch reveals young that are small and hairless. Even in this state they seek out and latch tightly onto a teat to suckle.
DID YOU KNOW? • Bandicoots sleep so soundly in their nests that, in the days before they were protected, hunters could pin them down with their feet and pick them up. • In rainy weather, the northern bandicoot may kick a layer of earth over its
nest as an umbrella. • Rival male bandicoots fight by locking jaws and wrestling. • Certain bandicoot species have the shortest pregnancy period known for a mammal: a mere 12 days of gestation.
~ FOOD &: FEEDING
~ CHARACTERISTICS Members of the bandicoot family range across Australia, New Guinea, and outlying islands. Some are the size of small rats, others are as big as rabbits. All are strictly grounddwelling. New Guinea bandicoots, including the spiny bandicoot, live on the floor of the island's tropical forests. The smallest species, the mouse bandicoot, and the largest species, the giant bandicoot, also live there. The Australian species have varied habits. The golden bandicoot prefers dry areas. The northern brown bandi-
Bandicoots reproduce faster then most other marsupial species. In a moderate climate adults may mate at any time of the year. Gestation is rapid -as short as 12 days-and the tiny young are well developed at birth. They immediately crawl into their mother's pouch and feed on her milk. As the young grow, the mother's pouch enlarges
coot, the long-nosed bandicoot, and the eastern barred bandicoot live in humid habitats including grassy plains, scrub, and woodlands, and even in town gardens. All bandicoots spend the daytime resting, usually inside a nest of grass on the ground. In the evening they come out to forage, yet they stay near cover so that they can hide from snakes, dingoes, and foxes, their chief predators. Bandicoots are solitary by nature, pairing only to mate. Right: The golden bandicoot lives in dry regions and has a coarse but
Insects, spiders, and worms form the principal diet of bandicoots, but these marsupials are opportunists and will eat other types of available food. They sometimes catch small rodents and often forage for seeds, berries, tubers, and fungi. One species forages over most of its home range
each night. Where there is little water, bandicoots get enough moisture from dew and the fluids in their food. Though bandicoots pick some of their food from the ground, they are best known for digging conical holes in the soil with their strong forefeet. They then poke their long snouts into the holes to catch invertebrates or chew plant roots and tubers. The pointed muzzles are also used to probe crevices around roots and under logs. left: The bandicoot turns over the topsoil, sniffing out and eating roots and worms.
' " CARD 134
AMERICAN QUARTER HORSE ,,-----------------------------~~~~~~~~~
.... ORDER ~ Perissodactyla
GENUS & SPECIES
KEY FACTS SIZES Height: 14.3 to 15.1 hands (1 hand = 4 in .) Weight: 1,100 to 1,300 lb.
Equus cabal/us BREEDING Sexual maturity: Mares, 11/2-2 years. Stallions, 2-3 years . Mating: April to July. Gestation: 11 months. No. of young: Usually 1. LIFESTYLE Habit: Naturally sociable. In the wild, mares and young live in herds with a dominant stallion. Diet: Grass, low-growing vegetation, supplemented with hay. Natural diet is oats, barley, wheat, and bran. Lifespan: 20-30 years. RELATED SPECIES The American quarter horse is related to every other breed of horse, but it has close links with the English thoroughbred .
Origin of the American quarter horse.
DISTRIBUTION Widespread throughout the United States. Quarter horses have been exported throughout the world . CONSERVATION The American Quarter Horse Association's objective is to preserve the horse's unique nature. Within the breed standard, however, the emphasis is on different qualities that produce horses better suited to racing, showing, or riding .
FEATURES OF THE QUARTER HORSE Back: Short and powerful. Also fairly broad , which helps to support a heavy saddle. Height in hands Average height to withers: 14.4 hh 15 hh
Hindquarters: The rear of the horse is broad and ve ry muscular. The powerful hind legs are thickly muscled .
Head: Short and broad with small ears , wide-set eyes, and large nostrils.
The American quarter horse is bred for short, straight-line sprints and is the fastest horse in the world. From a standing start, it can cover a quarter of a mile in a little over 20 seconds.
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The American quarter horse was first bred around 300 years ago, but its breed association was only founded in 1940. Since then the quarter horse has become the most popular riding horse in the world, with a breed register of over a million horses.
~ ORIGIN The quarter horse is the best known Western horse in America. It was first bred in Virginia during the late 1 700s by crossing native ponies with English settlers' running horses. The chickasaws were the wild offspring of horses that were brought to the New World by the Spanish. The harsh environment and generations of inbreeding caused a small but hardy horse to evolve. The early colonists crossed them with their im-
of certain stallions are more dominant, so they stamp their offspring with their own qualities. The American Quarter Horse Association sets a breed standard by which to judge all quarter horses. A horse that closely meets this standard is more valuable
first true North American horse breed . • The race with the highest stakes is the All-American Futurity for three-year olds .
than one that does not. Some crossbreeding takes place to produce a faster horse suited to racing, or to create a larger, more powerful animal for hunting. Mares come into season every four weeks, but usually mate in the spring, bearing one foal 11 months later.
Left: The herding instinct is strong even among those horses not living in the wild. Right: The quarter horse's characteristics are the result of careful crossbreeding.
~ QUARTER HORSE &: MAN ported stock to produce a slightly larger and more rideable horse, which still retained the chickasaw's natural agility and hardiness . The resulting crossbreed also possessed a quick, early burst of speed. Soon they were bred especially for the popular "quarter races"straight sprints over one quarter of a mile. The hardy and quick quarter horse proved useful to cattle ranchers as they moved west.
DID YOU KNOW? • The quarter horse accelerates so quickly that jockeys have to grip the mane so they do not fly off. • The quarter horse was the
In the wild, horses usually live in herds led by a dominant stallion. The stallion fights off rival males and mates with his mares as they come into season (become ready to mate). This assures that the strongest and most intelligent males are those that breed. Breeding of domesticated quarter horses is more selective. Through the careful choice of both the stallion (male) and the mare (female), a certain type of offspring may be produced. The traits
The quarter horse and man have always been closely associated. Originally prized for its amazing speed, it later became the ideal stock horse. It is fast, agile, and sturdy enough to carry a man all day over rough terrain. It also possesses a special "cow sense." This is the ability to pick out a particular cow, fix
it with a hypnotic stare, and keep it away from the herd by blocking its every move. This ability is highly valued since it is an efficient way to single out individual cows for special attention . For the pleasure rider, the quarter horse's docile nature and willingness to learn make it popular.
quarter horse is prized by cattle ranchers for its speed and agility, which make it an ideal horse for herding cattle.
quarter horse is a favorite at rodeos. These popular competitions test the skiJIs of the cowboys and their horses against cattle and obstacles.
~ FOOD &: FEEDING The quarter horse can thrive on a relatively poor diet of range grass and scrub. Its ability to make the most of what food it can find while living out on the range is important to people who use it as a work horse. Today most quarter horses are kept for pleasure riding or for racing. They also get a more varied diet. Apart from grass from grazing, a horse usually eats a mixture of oats, barley, corn, and bran to give it nutritional balance. The quarter horse's stomach is adapted for large quantities of roughage, rather than small amounts of feed, so it needs plenty of hay to keep up its roughage intake.
SIZES Height: 21/2 -3 ft. Weight: 85 -225 lb. Antlers: 2-3 ft. along curve.
,,-----------------------------~~~~~~~~ GENUS Ex SPECIES FAMILY ORDER ~
BREEDING Sexual maturity: Females, 16 months . Males, 4 years. Mating season: September to February. Peaks during the September-October rut. Gestation: 230-240 days. No. of young: 1 (twins rare). LIFESTYLE Habit: Sociable, forming separate herds outside the rut. Diet: Grass, herbs, foliage, berries, nuts, fungi, and bark. Lifespan: 15 years. RELATED SPECIES The endangered Persian fallow deer is considered either a separate species or a subspecies of the fallow deer.
Range of the fallow deer.
DISTRIBUTION Native to Mediterranean regions and parts of the Middle East. Introduced in Europe and in parts of North America, South America, southern Africa, and Australia. CONSERVATION Generally common and increasing in some areas, the adaptable fallow deer is less common in its original range (southern Europe and the Middle East) .
E FALLOW DEER Mal ·
Female: Smaller than male but has the same coat coloring .
Winter coat: The spots fade in winter and the coat be-
The fallow deer, with its spotted fawn coat and broad, flattened antlers, is one of the most familiar-looking deer. This nervous creature most often grazes in quiet woodland glades. ©MCMXCI IMP BV/IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILpM
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~ BREEDIN G Mating occurs from September to February, but most fallow deer mate during the fall rut (mating season) . The male marks his territory by scraping the soil with his hooves and antlers, urinating, and breaking branches. He struts back and forth bellowing loudly, hoping to attract and mate with as many females as possible in the territory. Pregnant females give birth
the next spring away from the herd and under dense cover. The spotted fawns hide in this cover until they are strong enough to run with the herd. Only males have horns, which begin to grow after t he age of two . Every April the fallow deer sheds its antlers. The antlers regrow slightly larger and more elaborate each year. Above: A
DID YOU KNOW? • Fallow deer living in parks and preserves often forage in trash cans . Many die after swallowing garbage such as ribbon, nylon threads, cigarette butts, balloons, and plastic bags.
newborn fawn lies in the safety of long grass.
• The fallow deer's relative, the Persian fallow deer, was believed to be extinct until a tiny population was later "rediscovered" in 1955 along the border of Iran and Iraq.
Far left: The male eventually develops an impressive set of antlers.
Herds of fallow deer live in woodland and parkland habitats. Adaptable in diet and tolerant of a range of climatic conditions, they have been widely introduced around the world for both food and sport.
The fallow deer has been introduced into habitats all over the worl d, incl uding many woodland parks of North America.
Males and females have sim ilar colors and markings, but only t he male fallow deer bea r t he characteri stic palm-shaped antlers .
Left: The male sheds its antlers in spring. They grow back larger every year.
~ FOOD &: FEEDING
~ HABITS In its native range around the Mediterranean and in parts ofthe Middle East, the fallow deer dwells in deciduous woodland (where trees lose foliage at the end of the growing season), hilly pine woods, and dense shrubland. When introduced elsewhere, the deer thrives in woodland with open patches among the trees. Wild fallow deer live in small herds, though groups of 70
or more deer are common in parks and estates. Outside the mating season, males form their own roaming herds separate from the females and young. With its keen senses of sight, hearing, and smell, the fallow deer can detect an intruder and alert other members of its group. Right: During the rut, the male rounds up a small herd of females into his territory.
The fallow deer mainly feeds on grasses and herbs in summer, sometimes browsing on bushes and trees. In deer parks a "browse line" four to six feet high marks how far up the trees the deer can reach foliage. The trees are often stripped bare below this line because of the deer's voracious feeding habits. The fallow deer adapts its feeding habits to the changing seasons. In fall and winter it
eats nuts, berries, bark strips, fungi, dead leaves, and holly. It feeds throughout the day and night, mainly during early morning and evening in an open clearing with plenty of ground vegetation. The herd grazes across it slowly, but not long enough to exhaust the food supply. When not feeding, the herd rests under dense cover. The fallow deer rarely drinks-dew and plant moisture supply its water.
"" CARD 136
PRONGHORN ,,~--------------------------------------------~ &: ~
GENUS SPECIES Antilocapra americana
KEY FACTS SIZES Length: Head and body, 3-5 ft. Tail, 3-7 in. Height: 2 1/2-3 1/2 ft. Weight: 80-150 lb . BREEDING Sexual maturity: Both sexes mature at 15 months, but male seldom breeds until 5 years. Breeding season: March to October. Gestation: 252 days. No. of young: Usually 2. Range of the pronghorn.
LIFESTYLE Habit: Territorial grazer; lives in herds. Diet: Shrubs, grass, and cacti. Lifespan: 9-10 years in the wild . Up to 12 years in captivity. RELATED SPECIES Subspecies include Antilocapra americana americana, A. a. sonoriensis, A. a. mexicana, and A. a. peninsularis.
DISTRIBUTION Found throughout western parts of North America, from Canada south to northern Mexico. CONSERVATION By the 1920s hunting had reduced the pronghorn's population from 35 million to 20,000 animals . Conservationists have now ra ised the pronghorn's numbers t o about 450,000, but some subspecies remain endangered .
FEATU RES OF THE PRONG HORN Horns: The male has backwardcu rving horns with small , fo rwardfacing prongs. When the female has horns, they are small. The horns' sheath (covering) is shed yearly.
Rump: When alarmed, the pronghorn raises and sp reads long, white hairs on its rump to warn other herd members. It also emits a strong scent from glands at the base of the rump hai rs.
Fawn: Coat is
The pronghorn IS name comes from the unusual shape of its horns. It can outsprint a horse and is the fastest land mammal in the western hemisphere. ""MCMXCIIMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM
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~ BREEDING Breeding season begins in the spring. Pronghorn herds split into groups, according to age and sex. At three years, young males begin establishing their own breeding territories, which can cover an area of almost two square miles. Older males often occupy the same territories year after year. The males mark their territories with urine and feces and with a scent produced from glands below the ears. A male with an established territory tries to herd females into his area and keep them there. He promptly drives off rival males. Competing males first confront Left: The pronghorn 's large eyes enable it to detect movement several miles away.
The pronghorn roams in herds across the open grasslands of North America. When it senses
a predator nearby, the pronghorn raises the fur on its rump and emits a strong scent to warn the herd. The animals immediately sprint away at full speed.
~ CHARACTERISTICS The pronghorn inhabits open grassland and desert from the Canadian border to northern Mexico. Although the animal is not migratory, it covers an area up to 10 miles wide as it searches for food and water. It is most active just before sunset and after sunrise. The pronghorn is constantly alert for signs of danger and can spot a moving object several miles away. But it may not be able to see a motionless predator
each other with a steady stare. If neither male looks away, the territory holder bellows loudly and may charge the intruder. Most conflicts end with the weaker male backing off. But when two evenly matched males meet, the result is often a violent battle. Throughout the breeding season, small herds of females wander through the territories of the dominant males. Despite the males' attempts to keep them, the females seldom remain in one male's territory very long. Once they have mated, females give birth a little over eight months later, usually to twins. The young fawns develop very quickly, and at three weeks old they start feeding on grass and shrubs.
young suckle for only three weeks.
Left: Young fawns are left under cover while the mother feeds .
~ PRONGHORN & MAN
DID YOU KNOW? • A two-day-old pronghorn can outrun a man . At four days it can outsprint a horse. An adult pronghorn has been recorded at speeds faster than 50 miles an hour. • The female pronghorn has
only six scent glands, but the male has nine. • Galloping at full speed, the pronghorn's strides can be more than 25 feet . • Hunters once attracted pronghorns with in range by tying flags to bushes.
When European settlers first arrived, there were about 35 million pronghoms in North America. Many thousands were shot for food and sport. As farming changed the prairies, habitat loss led to a further decline in numbers. By the mid-1920s, fewer than
~ FOOD & FEEDING
just a few feet away. When it is alarmed, the pronghorn uses its rapid sprinting ability to escape. It can maintain a speed of about 30 miles an hour for two to three miles over even ground. Both sexes have horns, which grow and are shed yearly. Sometimes the female does not have any horns. Only the male's horns have forward-pointing prongs. Right: The pronghorn feeds mainly on grasses and moves frequently in search of fresh pastures.
Throughout most of the year the pronghorn feeds in herds. During winter a herd may have as many as 1,000 animals. The prong hom roams desert scrub and flat grasslands to feed on a wide selection of shrubby plants, grasses, and even prickly cacti. To compensate for the wear resulting from the constant chewing of tough plants, the pronghorn's teeth grow continuously throughout its life. Grasses and other fleshy vegetation are especially important to
20,000 pronghorns were left, so conservationists began working to protect the remaining herds. As a result, numbers have risen to 450,000, and a limited amount of hunting is now permitted. No more than 40,000 animals may be killed in a year.
the prong hom in spring and summer.ln winter, the prong hom feeds more heavily on shrubby plants. When the ground is covered with snow, the prong hom digs until it reaches the buried vegetation. The prong hom always takes advantage of available water. But in a drought when water is scarce or unavailable, it can survive entirely on the moisture that it gets from the plants that it eatsespecially the cacti .
EASTERN COTTONTAIL RABBIT
"" CARD 137 GR'()uP 1: MAMMALS ~
GENUS &: SPECIES Sylvi/agu5 floridanu5
SIZES Length: Head and body, 1-11/2 ft. Ears, 2-3 in. Tail, 1-2 in. Weight: About 2-4 lb.
BREEDING Sexual maturity: 3-5 months. Breeding season: February to September. Gestation: 26-30 days. No. of young: 1-9; usually 4-5. LIFESTYLE Habit: Mainly solitary, but has been observed frolicking in groups. Diet: Grass and leaves. In winter: bark, twigs, and seeds. Lifespan: 10 years in captivity; 2-3 years in the wild. RELATED SPECIES There are 13 species of rabbit in the genus, 7 of which are called cottontails.
Range of the eastern cottontail r(lbbit.
DISTRIBUTION Eastern United States, except for New England, extending west to North Dakota, Kansas, Texas, northern New Mexico, and Arizona . Also in parts of Central and South America. CONSERVATION The eastern cottontail rabbit is the most common and widespread of all cottontail rabbits, and it is not an endangered species.
FEATURES OF THE EASTERN COTTONTAil RABBIT
COMPARISON OF SPECIES
Body size: T ( female , or doe, is larger than thw male, called a uck. Desert cottontail: Pale gray fur with distinct yellow tinge. Smaller than eastern cottontail.
Hind legs: Its Rowerful back legs enable it to reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and hop over nine' feet in the air.
The most common rabbit in the United States, the eastern cottontail rabbit is also found in South America. It gets its name from the fluffy white fur on the underside of its tail. ©MCMXCI IMP BV/IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM
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Mountain cottontail : Paler gray than eastern cottontail. Noticeably larger. Black-tipped ears. 016020022 1 PACKET 22
~ FOOD & FEEDING
Like all rabbits, the eastern cottontail rabbit is a grazer, eating mainly grass and herbs. When grass and leaves are scarce, it eats bark, twigs, seeds, and roots. Rabbits and hares eat large quantities of green vegetation. Their digestive system is adapted to process a large amount of plant matter. They also eat some of their own feces in order to extract as much nutrition as possible from their food. Rabbits produce two types of feces: soft feces they ingest, and hard pellets they leave undisturbed on the ground. Right: An eastern cottontail rabbit
can do major damage to crops and gardens.
The eastern cottontail rabbit is a grazing animal that is adapted for quick movement. It has strong hind legs that enable it to
quickly escape from danger. In addition, its bulging eyes give it a wide field of vision for detecting predators.
~ HABITS The eastern cottontail rabbit occupies a large area of the eastern United States. It is found in heavy brush, in woodland areas near open country, in cultivated fields, and along swamp edges. It is mainly nocturnal but may be active from early evening to late morning. It usually spends its day in a depression in the ground or beneath a pile of underAbove: The eastern cottontail rab-
bit is one of the most commonly hunted small game animals.
growth. It does not live in burrows, although in cold weather it may find shelter in another animal's abandoned burrow. When the ground is covered in deep snow, it makes a network of runs beneath the surface. The eastern cottontail rabbit is not a territorial animal; its range of 1,000 to 8,000 square feet overlaps with the ranges of other rabbits. When pursued by an enemy, it usually runs in circles, often jumping sideways to avoid leaving a scent trail.
~ EASTERN COTTONTAIL RABBIT & MAN
DID YOU KNOW? • If all the young from one breeding pair of eastern cottontail rabbits were to survive, together with their offsprings' young, they could produce 350,000 rabbits in five years. • The eastern cottontail
rabbit is not affected by
myxomatosis, a disease that kills the European rabbit.
• Sylvilagus idahoensis, the pygmy rabbit, is the only species in the genus that constructs its own burrow.
The eastern cottontail rabbit is a favorite prey of hunters. It thrives in cultivated and populated areas, making it easy prey. In the 1920s, wildlife agencies, together with hunting clubs, imported eastern cottontail rabbits to Kansas, Mis-
BREEDING Breeding season lasts from February to September. During this time the female, or doe, may be territorial. The fertile female can produce three to four litters of nine young each year. Still, as many as 90 percent of the young die. Although many species of rabbit do not make nests, the cottontail rabbit does, since its young need a relatively long Left: These baby cottontails will be
able to breed by the time they are 12 weeks old.
souri, Texas, and Pennsylvania, since the local subspecies had dwindled. The rabbits bred with local species to produce a new hybrid, which is now widespread . The eastern cottontail rabbit is considered a pest by gardeners in some areas.
period of care. A week before birth, the doe digs a shallow depression in the ground. She lines it with grass and leaves, as well as with fur she pulls from her breast and belly. By removing some of her fur, she exposes her nipples for the young to suck. The young are born blind and naked. The mother returns to the nest to suckle the young, who develop quickly, reaching sexual maturity in three to five months. Within hours after birth, the doe mates again.
ALPINE IBEX ,,~----------------------------~~~~~~~ FAMILY GENUS & SPECIES ORDER ~
KEY FACTS SIZES Shoulder height: 2-2 3/4 ft. Weight: Males, 165-265 lb. Females, 110-140 lb. Length: Body 4-5 ft. Tail 4'/2-6 in. Females smaller. BREEDING Sexual maturity: 1-2 years. Mating: Fall and early winter. Gestation: About 1 70 days. No. of young: Usually 1, occasionally 2. LIFESTYLE Habit: Lives in groups of females and young of both sexes. Diet: Grazes on grass, flowers, and low-growing plants. Also browses on shrubs and trees. Lifespan: Between 1 0-1 2 years. RELATED SPECIES Closely related to the Siberian ibex, Capra sibirico, and Nubian ibex, C. nubiana.
Range of the alpine ibex.
DISTRIBUTION Alps and high mountain regions in central Europe up to 10,000 feet above sea level. The alpine ibex lives at lower altitudes in winter than in summer. CONSERVATION Once almost hunted to extinction, today groups flourish in reserves. The alpine ibex is being reintroduced into parts of its natural range.
FEATURES OF THE ALPINE IBEX Tail: Short and flat with a bare underside. Anal scent glands at base of tail.
Body: Typical goat body. Brownish gray coat with small amounts of black. Males have a strong odor.
.........__ Horns: Large and scimitarshaped with prominent, gnarled ridges. Females have smaller horns. Males' horns grow larger, stronger, and more gnarled with age.
~1oU' ... , . Head: Long , with a sloping forehead , small ears, slanting nostrils, and a typical goatlike chin beard . -----~l.ot'
Feet: Front and back toes developed into split, or artiodactyl "11~.tJ,J.-- (even-toed) hooves that are extremely flexible to aid climbing.
The alpine ibex, a wild goat, lives at high altitudes in the Alps and other ~ountainous regions of central Europe. Once almost hunted to extinction, it is now protected in reserves. ©MCMXCI IMP BV/IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM
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0160200261 PACKET 26
~ BREEDING Mating occurs in fall and early winter. The rut (a period of intense mating-related activity among males) lasts about 10 days. The male alpine ibexes perform fight rituals but do not injure each other; the winners form harems of mature females for breeding. The strongest males with the largest horns gain superiority and can build the largest harems with 12 or more females and one or two old, non-productive males.
leaps with ease from crags to rocky ledges.
gnarled, scimitar-shaped horns, though the male's are longer and heavier.
Right: Good balance allows the ibex to leap from rock to rock.
summer, ibexes climb alpine peaks to feed. Right: Two ibexes huddle together during a winter storm.
The alpine ibex feeds throughout the day on shrubs and trees. It often stands on its hind legs to reach leaves, twigs, and tender young shoots. It also grazes on grass, flowers, and low-growing plants in high alpine meadows. If food is scarce, the ibex moves to lower, wooded valleys at dusk to feed.
80th male and female alpine ibexes have large,
fight predators such as wolves, lynxes, bears, jackals, and foxes with its large horns when cornered. Its well-developed senses of sight, hearing, and smell help it to avoid danger.
graze at one month. The females and their young live together in groups, with young males leaving when they reach maturity at two years.
~ FOOD &: FEEDING
A swift and nimble climber, the alpine ibex
The alpine ibex lives in large, segregated groups of either adult males or females and their young for most of the year. Males and females only join during breeding season when dominant males form harems of females. Active during the day, the ibex feeds high up in the mountains and also moves to lower pastures to graze. In summer it lives at higher altitudes than in winter, when lack of food drives it down to more plentiful areas. When danger threatens, the alpine ibex climbs nimbly up into the rocks to hide. It may
After a gestation period of 1 70 days, one or two kids (baby ibexes) are born. The female feeds the kids until the next fall, and the offspring can
Above: A male ibex waits six years
until his horns are strong enough that he can participate in the rut.
Right: During the rut, males perform ritualized fights, rearing up on their hind legs and clashing horns to show strength.
DID YOU KNOW? • The male alpine ibex's horns can grow up to three feet while the larger Siberian ibex's can grow to four and a half feet. • Like other goats, the male alpine ibex has a strong body odor, and it sprays itself with
shape and behavior. • The most sheeplike goat is the bharal, known as the blue sheep, found in Tibet and western China. • Since Roman times, the belief that parts of the alpine ibex have special healing powers has lead to overhunting in many areas. • Old male alpine ibexes sometimes grow long hair on the back of the neck.
Above: A mother and her young graze on a rock face.
SEA OTTER ,,'--_______________ . . . ORDER ~ Carnivora
GROUP 1: MAMMALS
. . . GENUS & SPECIES ~ Enhydra lutris
SIZES Length: Head and body, 3-4 ft. Tail, 10-15 in. Weight: Male, 50-100 lb. Female, 30-70 lb. BREEDING Sexual maturity: Male, 6-9 years. Female, 4 years. Breeding season: Any time of year. Gestation: 6-9 months. No. of young: 1. Twins rare. LIFESTYLE Habit: Coastal, meat eating; pairs only for breeding season . Diet: Fish, crustaceans, and shellfish . Lifespan: Up to 20 years. RELATED SPECIES The other otter species in the subfamily Lutrinae are the river otter, Lutra lutra, and the endangered giant otter, Pteronura brasiliensis.
Range of the sea otter. DISTRIBUTION Coastal and island waters of the north Pacific from California to Alaska in the east and Japan to the Soviet Union in the west. CONSERVATION Hunted to the point of extinction for its fur, the sea otter was given protection in 1911. Pollution threatens the otter, with oil spills such as the Exxon Valdez disaster wiping out populations and fouling its habitat.
FEATURES OF THE SEA OTTER Fur: Sleek, thick, and insulating . The sea otter has no fat insulation, so it relies on i,ts fur for warmth . If the hai r becomes matted by oil the otter dies fro m the cold.
The sea otter is the most aquatic of the otters, spending almost all of its life at sea. Although seldom found far from land, it is slow and awkward when it comes ashore.
River otter: Also swims well and has sleek fur. Seizes prey in its mouth then eats on the riverbank.
Feeding: The sea otter eats fish and sheHtish off its chest. It uses its clawed forefeet to break open shells and to pass edible parts to its mouth. ©MCMXCI IMP BV/IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM
i11d feet: Long and webbed to give the sea otter maximum propulsion when diving fo r prey. PRINTED IN U.S.A.
0160200261 PACKET 26
Left: The sea otter spends much of its life afloat.
Below: The sea otter is adept at cracking open tough shells. It brings up a flat ocean stone to lay on its chest and then smashes mussels or clams on it to get at their soft insides.
The sea otter's breeding season varies across its range, and offspring are born throughout the year. Mates pair up briefly during the mating season. After mating, males go to group resting grounds while females and young otters share territory. The gestation period varies because the sea otter can delay an embryo's development to ensure that it is born at a favorable time. The female produces one pup or,
north Pacific. With its warm, insulating fur
valuable coats of any mammal. Hunted intensively from the mideighteenth century, fewer than 2,000 sea otters remained worldwide by 1910. Protective legislation was introduced and sea otter numbers slowly increased to 100,000. Today pollution threatens many of the sea otter's remote habitats. In 1989 oil from the Exxon Valdez tanker killed entire sea otter colonies in Alaska. In some parts of its range, the otter must compete with fishermen for food.
coat, it can swim and fish in the iciest of waters. The beauty of its pelt almost led to the sea otter's extermination by eighteenthand nineteenth-century fur traders.
FOOD & HUNTING This carnivore feeds on crabs, abalone (a mollusk), sea urchins, and fish. The sea otter eats up to a quarter of its body weight in food each day. A strong and swift swimmer, it propels itself with powerful strokes of its webbed hind feet and undulations of its body. It can dive deep and often feeds 65 feet below the surface.
reefs or rocky coves. The sea otter stays in shallow coastal water to feed . On land, it walks slowly and awkwardly, lacking the agility and grace it displays in the water.
While searching for food, the sea otter remains submerged for more than a minute before surfacing for air. Unlike the river otter that catches its prey in its jaws, the sea otter uses its small, clawed forefeet to seize prey, snatching up slowmoving fish and plucking crustaceans and mollusks from seabeds or kelp stems.
Below: The pup remains with its mother in a territory shared with other females
• A sea otter has been known to dive 318 feet. • On the surface, a sea otter swims up to one mile per hour-beneath the water it swims six times faster. • When sleeping the sea otter often covers its eyes with a paw. • The sea otter is the only sea mammal that has no insulating layer of fat. Instead, it relies on its thick coat to trap warm air that protects it from ice-cold water~
~ SEA OTTER & MAN The sea otter has one of the most
The sea otter inhabits the food-rich waters of the
The sea otter lives alone in coastal waters. The smallest of sea-living mammals, it spends its entire life at sea only a half mile from the shore. During very rough storms, it may seek shelter in
DID YOU KNOW? rarely, twins. She only has room to nurse and support a single pup on her chest while swimming on her back. The young otter, born on a raised reef or in the ocean, quickly swims. It learns to dive at six weeks and begins to eat the same food as the adult otter. The young otter suckles until fully grown at six to eight months.
The otter also eats clams. It may make several dives for a clam, digging a little deeper each time until it dislodges the burrowing creature. The otter brings up all but the smallest catch to eat on the surface. Swimming on its back, it supports the meal on its chest, often rolling in the water to wash away shells and food waste.
Right: The pup learns about hunting and feeding from its mother. Here, off the Californian coast, a female teaches a pup to crack open a crab.
" CARD 140 I·
SUN BEAR ,,-----------------------------~~~~~~~~ GENUS & SPECIES ~ ORDER ~ FAMILY '11IIIIIIII
KEY FACTS SIZES Length: Head and body 31/2-4 1/2 ft. Height to shoulder: 2 1/2 ft. Weight: 60-150 lb. Females are smaller than males. BREEDING Sexual maturity: Female, 3 years, but often does not mate until 6 years. Male, 4 years. Breeding season: Year-round. Gestation: 96 days. No. of young: 2. LIFESTYLE Habit: Solitary. Young stay with female for 1-2 years: Diet: Fruit, honey, insects, small mammals, birds, eggs. Lifespan: Not known. Other bears vary from 20-30 years. RELATED SPECIES The bear family has 7 species in 5 genera. The sun bear is the only species in its genus.
Range of the sun bear. DISTRIBUTION Tropical and subtropical forests of Burma, Sumatra, Borneo, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. May be found in southern China. CONSERVATION Numbers in the w ild are not known, but the sun bear has declined from habitat destruction . Hunting was once w idespread but has decreased.
FEATURES OF THE SUN BEAR Coat: The sun bear has short, smooth fur, varying in color from jet black to a brownish black. The orangish yeHow chest marking does not occur in all specimens.
Claws: Long and pointed for ripping into the bark of trees to uncover insects and honey.
The sun bear gets its name from the creamy yellow mark on its chest. Also known as the Malayan bear, it is the smallest of its family and is known for being a lover of honey. ©MCMXCI IMP BV/IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM
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0160200311 PACKET 31
FOOD &: FEED ING
Although classed a carnivore, the sun bear eats a wide variety of food, very little of which is meat. It climbs trees and rips out bees' nests with its sharp claws. It sticks its mobile snout and long, narrow tongue in the nest to scoop out the honey and grubs. The sun bear also eats fruit from treetops. It also dips its paws into termite nests, licking off the termites and grubs that stick to them . The sun bear's only real meat comes from small rodents and birds.
The small, thick-set sun bear is called Biruang or Broeang by the people of Malaysia and is also sometimes known
as the honey bear. Unlike most other bears who are active during the day, the sun bear rests in the sun in a temporary nest in the trees.
mouth has a long tongue, used for scooping out honey and grubs.
l eft: The extremely shy sun bear is hard spot in the wild.
~ SUN BEAR &: MAN
DID YOU KNOW? • The species is thought to be intelligent: one sun bea r inserted a claw into a key hole and turned it after watch ing someone unlock the door w ith a key. • Like a tree trunk, you can count the rings of a sun bear's tooth to tell its age.
• The sun bear has a highly developed sense of smell and a wet nose like a dog . Sun bears also sit up and sn iff the air. • Bears walk or "hop" up tree t runks when climbing; they descend backward, with thei r hind feet first.
The Malaysian people consider the shy sun bear friendly, often keeping the animal as a pet for children. Malaysia once listed the sun bear as big game for hunting, but now it is protected in many areas. Even so, some sun bears are sold into the pet trade. Many are also caught
Above: A sun bear strikes the water playfully.
in snares set for wild pigs. Clearing of the sun bear's forest habitats has caused the sun bear population to decline. Some once mistakenly thought that sun bears could not breed in captivity.
The adaptable sun bear lives in mountainous, lowland, and subtropical areas of its range. It mainly inhabits forests and climbs trees. The sun bear is primarily nocturnal and spends the day sleeping in a tree in the sun . It bends or breaks the branches to form a nest 1 0 to 20 feet above the ground, giving it a good view of the forest. The soles of the sun bear's feet are long and hairless with sickle-shaped claws. These adaptations help it to better grip the trunks of trees
Above: The sun bear's large
when climbing. In contrast, bears that stay on the ground have feet with hairy soles. The sun bear walks strangely because its long, clawed feet are turned inward, making it appear bowlegged as it walks. The sun bear does not hibernate (have a dormant period) like other bears probably because of the unvarying mild climate of its habitat. Still, it adapts to a variety of habitats. Right: The sun bear's turned-in
feet give it a bow-legged appearance.
The sun bear's cautious nature makes it difficult to study its breeding habits in the wild. But it is known to be able to mate at any time of the year and is monogamous (mating
with one partner that it stays with for the rest of its life). A litter usually has two 10to 12-ounce cubs born on the ground in a secluded spot. The young remain with the mother for some time, learning hunting and feeding skills from her. Young sun bears are good natured and playful, but older sun bears often become bad tempered and dangerous. Left: A sun bear spends its day sleeping in the sun. It hunts at night.