About the Magestic American Cougar (Puma concolor)

Each of the four wild cats of North America are beautiful; bobcats, lynxes, jaguars and cougars. However, although the jaguar is close to the same size, it is hard to say that any of the other wild cats is more majestic. It makes little difference if a person calls this big cat a mountain lion, cougar, puma, catamount or any of a number of other names it has been known by, there is little doubt that it is a beautiful and powerful apex predator. Like a lot of other predators, the mountain lion sometimes gets an undeserved bad name. It isn’t the wicked, evil, bloodthirsty killer that some people believe it to be. In fact, in the wild it is rare to even see a mountain lion, much less for anyone to be attacked by one. Attacks do occur, but it is tremendously unusual. Even in the rare event that it does occur, there is almost always something wrong with the great cat, such as illness, infirmity or an animal that is near starvation. As a matter of fact, man is the only predator this beautiful cat has. Cougar diet The majority of the mountain lion’s diet consists of rodents, and for this people should be quite thankful since the population of mice, rats, squirrels, voles, lemmings, hares and rabbits that are the mainstay of the mountain lion’s diet can and periodically do explode enormously. The matter would be far worse without a creature like the cougar to take substantial Continue Reading →

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What the Cervid Family of Animals in North America is

It might sound like the cervid family would be some bewildering group of unusual animals, but it really isn’t. The cervids simply include the various species of deer. For this reason, the family is more often known as the ‘deer family’. In North America, the family is represented by the mule deer and black tail deer, white tail deer, elk, reindeer or caribou, moose and the subspecies of these animals. There are cervids in other lands, too. Cervid similarities Cervids are similar to each other in that they are all ruminants or animals with a complex digestive system that features a compartmentalized stomach. This allows them to eat while they are moving and to later take the time to chew the food or ‘cud’, usually while laying down. Cattle also do this and are also ruminants, though not members of the cervids. All of the cervids stand on two toes, as well. None of the members have solid hair. It’s hollow, which gives it insulating properties. Additionally, none of the deer family have front teeth in the upper jaw. Instead, they have a fleshy or horny pad that allows them to browse plants. They are all plant-eaters and among the species found in North America, only the males have antlers, which are shed and replaced yearly. This last trait isn’t necessarily true of cervids in other countries. Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) The mule deer include the black tails, which have two subspecies (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus and Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) of Continue Reading →

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Getting to Know North American Opossums

The North American opossum, sometimes known as the Virginia opossum (Marsupial Didelphis virginiana), is the only marsupial that is native to North America. Despite this, it has a very wide range and can be found in nearly all parts of the US and Canada except for those that are exceptionally harsh. Opossums, or simply possums, grow to 15 or 20 pounds, with occasional specimens that are even larger. Built somewhat lower to the ground than a house cat, the possum’s fur is usually white or mottled gray to black , with darker guard hairs. The ears are dark and small. The head is narrow and the snout is pointed, while the prehensile tail is hairless. A possum can and sometimes does hang by its tail and often uses it as an aid for climbing. This animal is normally nocturnal, but it occasionally can be seen moving around during the day, especially in the early morning or dusk hours. Possums are mostly docile animals, but they have 50 sharp teeth and do know how to use them. When confronted, possums may try to escape, though they aren’t particularly fast animals. They may then try to bluff their way out of trouble by emitting a loud hiss and may lunge at its attacker. If this second ploy doesn’t work, a possum will often ‘play dead’ (hence the phrase; ‘playing possum’). It becomes motionless, laying as if it has died, and the heart rate and breathing becomes much slower. Only as a last Continue Reading →

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Getting to Know the Mule Deer

Though mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are relatively well known in North America, this is a North American species so people living in countries other than Canada, United States and Mexico might be unacquainted with the animal. It is a deer that mostly lives in the western part of North America, so people in the east may also not know this species, though they may have seen many white tailed deer, which are related. General characteristics of mule deer Fully grown, this is often a large animal. It can get nearly four feet tall at the shoulder, nearly seven feet long from the snout to the tail and may weigh as much as 325 pounds, with large bucks sometimes exceeding this. The color varies from rich brown in the summer to grayish brown in the winter. The underside is pale and both the does (females) and bucks (males) have light throat and rump patches. The tail is white except for a black tip. Mule deer are named for their ears, which are large like those of a mule. Only the bucks have antlers, which are not true horns and are shed every year. Unlike white tails, which have antler tines that stem upward from the forward facing central tine, a mule deer has antlers that branch directly upward, first outward and then inward, and it isn’t uncommon for the smaller tines to have even more tines. Mule deer behavior Mule deer have a separation of the sexes during most of the Continue Reading →

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