Mammals in the Sonoran Desert

Mammals in the desert are often hard to see. For one, many are nocturnal, avoiding the intense heat of the day. Mammals are also very wary with keen hearing and sense of smell that usually allows them to detect the presence of a hiker long before the hiker notices the mammal. Bats are the most diverse group of mammals in the Sonoran Desert - getting a decent picture or even to identify a bat often requires capture and in hand.

Harris Antelope Squirrel
Ammos harrisi

Small squirrel with large bushy tail. No stripes on sides of face. Very common esp. on slopes and small mts. More info

Rock Squirrel
Spermophilus variegatus

Medium to large squirrel inhabiting rocky slopes and rarely ascending trees. Uniform brown w/o stripes and large bushy tail. More info

Cliff Chipmonk
Tamias dorsalis

Small, active mammal found on rocky slopes at upper elev. of Sonoran Desert. Stripe on face. Medium bushy tail. More info

Round-tail Ground Squirrel
Spermophilus tereticaudus

Small squirrel of sandy or silty soils that tunnels beneath shrubs. Tail short and not bushy. More info

Whitethroat Woodrat
Neotoma ambigua

Tail with short but definate hairs. Large ears. Creates huge piles of cactus joint and plant parts on bajadas and rocky slopes. Mostly nocturnal. More info

Desert Pocket Mouse
Chaetodipus penicillatus
Desert Pocket Mouse © by Michael Plagens

Small rodent with very long tail - longer than head and body. There's a set of longer hairs near end of tail. More info

Hispid Cotton Rat
Sigmodon hispidus

This large rat is mostly associated with irrigated lands in the Sonoran Desert. More info

Valley Pocket Gopher
Thomomys bottae
 © by Michael Plagens

Rare to be seen above ground, however, mounds of pushed out soil are often conspicuous. More info

Audubon's Cottontail
Sylvilagus audubonii
 © by Michael Plagens

Smallish gray-brown rabbit with button tail. Very common especially near human habitations and activities. More info

Antelope Jackrabbit
Lepus alleni

Largest hare with very large ears edged in white. Flanks gray. More info

Black-tailed Jackrabbit
Lepus californicus

Large jackrabbit with posture upright when alarmed. Large ears, tips edged in black and black tip to tail. Common near agriculture and flood plains. More info

Peccary; Javelina
Pecari angulatus
 © by Robert Shantz

Medium-sized mammal with dense fur and pig-like appearance. Pale collar around neck. Moves in groups of several to many. More info

Canis latrans

Small version of wolf and dog-like. Very common esp. near agric. fields and near urban areas. More info

Gray Fox
Urocyon cinereoargenteus
 © by Robert Shantz

Considerably smaller than coyote; large bushy tail makes it look larger. More info

Desert Mule Deer
Odocoileus hemionus
 © by Michael Plagens

Large ears. Tip of tail black and under-parts of tail white. Males with antlers. More info

Bighorn Sheep
Ovis canadensis

Browsing mammals that prefer steep, rugged country. Males with substantial horns. More info

Wild Burro
Equus asinus
 © by Michael Plagens

Smaller than domestic horse and usu. with dark band around neck at shoulders. More info

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2016


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