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No. 53 * s 



Senior Biologist, Division of Biological Investigations 
Bureau of Biological Survey 

Issued by 


Washington, D. C. December, 1931 

'or sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C. - - - - - - - Price $1.00 


Copies of the North American Fauna not out of print are for sale, at the prices named, 

by the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C. 

Numbers marked with an asterisk [*] are out of print. 

•No. 1. Revision of tbe North American Pocket 
Mice. By C. Hart Merriam. 
Pp.36, pis. 4. 1889. 

•No. 2. Descriptions of Fourteen New Species and 
One New Genus of North American Mammals. 

By C. Hart Merriam. 

Pp. 52, pis. 8, figs. 7. 1889. 

•No. 3. Results of a Biological Survey of the San 
Francisco Mountain Region and Desert of the 
the Little Colorado, Arizona. By C. Hart Mer- 
riam and Leonhard Stejneger. 

Pp. 136, pis. 14, maps 5 (colored), figs. 2. 1890. 

•No. 4. Descriptions of Twenty-six New Species of 
North American Mammals. By C. Hart Merriam. 
Pp.60, pis. 3, figs. 3. 1890. 

•No. 5. Results of a Biological Reconnolssance of 
South-central Idaho. By C. Hart Merriam and 
Leonhard Stejneger. Descriptions of a New Ge- 
nus and Two New Species of North American 
Mammals. By C. Hart Merriam. 
Pp. 132, pis. 4 (1 colored), figs. 4. 1891. 

No. 6. Not i88 ued. 

•No. 7. The Death Valley Expedition : A Blologlca 
Survey of Parts of California, Nevada, Arizona, 
and Utah. Part II: 1. Birds, by A. K. Fisher. 
2. Reptiles and Batrachlans, by Leonhard Stej- 
neger. 3. Fishes, by Charles H. Gilbert. 4. In- 
sects, by C. V. Riley. 5. Mollusks, by R. E. C. 
Stearns. 6. Desert Trees and Shrubs, by C. Hart 
Merriam. 7. Desert Cactuses and Yuccas, by 
C. Hart Merriam. 8. List of Localities, by T. S. 

Pp.402, pis. 15, maps 5, figs. 2. 1893. 

•No. 8. Monographic Revision of the Pocket Go- 
phers, Family Geomyldae (exclusive of the species 
of Thomomys.) By C. Hart Merriam. 

Pp.258, pis. 20, figs. 71, maps 4 (colored). 1895. 

No. 9. Not issued. 

•No. 10. Revision of the Shrews of the American 
Genera Blarinaand Notiosorex. By C. Hart Mer- 
riam. The Long-tailed Shrews of the Eastern 
United States. By Gerrit S. Miller, Jr. Synopsis 
of the American Shrews of the Genus Sorex. By 
C. Hart Merriam. 

Pp. 124. pis. 12, figs. 3. 1895. 

•No. 11. Synopsis of the Weasels of North Amer- 
ica. By C. Hart Merriam. 
Pp. 44, pis. 6, figs. 16. 1896. 

•No. 12. The Genera and Subgenera of Voles and 
Lemmings. By Gerrit S. Miller, Jr. 
Pp.84, pis. 3, figs. 40. 1896. 

•No. 13. Revision of the North American Bats 
of the Family Vespertlllonldse. By Gerrit S. 
Miller, Jr. 

Pp. 140, pis. 3, figs. 40. 1897. 

•No. 14. Natural History of the Tres Marias 
Islands, Mexico: General Account of the Islands 
with Reports on Mammals and Birds, by £. W. 
Nelson. Reptiles, by Leonhard Stejneger. Notes 
on Crustacea, by Mary J. Rathbun. Plants, by 
J. N. Rose. Bibliography, by E. W. Nelson. 
Pp. 97, pi. (map), figs. 2. 1899. 

•No. 15. Revision of the Jumping Mice of the 
Genus Zapus. By Edward A. Preble. 
Pp.42, pl.l, figs. 4. 1899. 

•No. 16. Results of a Biological Survey of Mount 
Shasta, California. By C. Hart Merriam. 
Pp.179, pis. 5, figs. 46. 1899. 

•No. 17. Revision of American Voles of the Genus 
Mlcrotus. By Vernon Bailey. 
Pp. 88, pis. 5, figs. 17. 1900. 

•No. 18. Revision of the Pocket Mice of the Genus 
Pcrognathus. By Wilfred H. Osgood. 
Pp. 72, pis. 4 (incl. 2 maps), figs. 15. 1900. 

•No. 19. Results of a Biological Reconnolssance 
of the Yukon Region; General Account of the 
Region. Annotated List of Mammals, by Wil- 
fred H. Osgood. Annotated List of Birds, by 

Louis B. Bishop. 

Pp. 100, pis. 7 (incl. 1 map) . 1900. 

•No. 20. Revision of the Skunks of the Genus 
Chincha {Mephitis}. By Arthur H. Howell. 
Pp.62, pis. 8. 1901. 

•No. 21. Natural History of the Queen Charlotte 
Islands, British Columbia; and Natural History 
of the Cook Inlet Region, Alaska. By Wilfred 
H. Osgood. 

Pp. 87, pis. 7 (incl. 1 map), fig. (map). 1901. 

•No. 22. A Biological Investigation of the Hudson 
Bay Region. By Edward A. Preble. 
Pp. 140, pis. 14, (incl. 1 map). 1902. 

•No. 23. Index Generum Mammallum: A List of 
the Genera and Families of Mammals. By T. S. 


Pp. 984. 1904. 

•No. 24. A Biological Reconnolssance of the Base 
of the Alaska Peninsula. By Wilfred H. Osgood. 
Pp. 86, pis. 7 (incl. 2 maps). 1904. 

•No. 25. Biological Survey of Texas: Life Zones, 
with Characteristic Species of Mammals, Birds, 
Reptiles, and Plants. By Vernon Bailey. 

Pp. 222, pis. 16 (incl. 6 maps), figs. 24 (incl. 16 maps). 

•No. 26. Revision of the Skunks of the Genus 
Spilogale. By Arthur H. Howell. 
Pp. 55, pis. 10 (incl. 1 map). 1906. 

No. 27. A Biological Investigation of the Atha- 
baska-Mackenzie Region. By Edward A. Preble. 
Pp.574, pis. 25 (incl. 4 maps), figs. 16. 1908. Price 

•No. 28. Revision of the Mice of the American 
Genus Peromyscus. By Wilfred H. Osgood. 
Pp. 285, pis. 8 (incl. 1 map), figs. 12 (maps). 1909. 

•No. 29. The Rabbits of North America. By E. 

W. Nelson. 

Pp. 314, pis. 13, figs. 19 (incl. 16 maps). 1909. 

•No. 30. Biological Investigations In Alaska and 
Yukon Territory : 1. East-central Alaska ; 2. 
Ogllvie Range, Yukon ; 3. Macmillan River, 
Yukon. By Wilfred H. Osgood. 

Pp.96, pis. 5 (lmap), figs. 2 (maps). 1909. 

{Continued on page S of cover.) 


No. 53 


by the 


Washington, D. C. 

December, 1931 


By Vebnon Bailey, Senior Biologist, Division of Biological Investigations 





Mammal collectors and collections 

Geographic variation 

Useful and injurious species 4 

Game protection 5 

Control of noxious species 6 

Problems in mammalian study 6 

Annotated list of species 7 

Didelphiidae: Opossums 7 

Dasypodidae: Armadillos 8 

Tayassuidae: Peccaries 10 

Bovidae: Bison and mountain sheep 11 

Antilocapridae: Pronghorned antelope.. 22 

Cervidae: Deer and elk 29 

Leporidae: Rabbits and hares 45 

Ochotonidae: Rock conies 64 

Sciuridae: Squirrels, chipmunks, prairie 

dogs, and woodchucks 68 

Muridae: Old-world rats and mice 133 

Cricetidae: American rats and mice 135 

Annotated list of species— Continued. 

Castoridae: Beavers 211 

Erethizontidae: Porcupines 220 

Zapodidae: Jumping mice 225 

Geomyidae: Pocket gophers 229 

Ueteromyidae: Kangaroo rats and pocket 

mice 247 

Felidae: Cats 283 

Canidae: Wolves and foxes 296 

Mustelidae: Wolverenes, martens, otters, 
minks, ferrets, weasels, skunks, [and 

badgers 322 

Bassariscidae: Cacomistles 346 

Procyonidae: Coatis and raccoons 347 

Ursidae: Bears 349 

Soricidae: Shrews 368 

Molossidae: Free-tailed bats 377 

Vespertilionidae: Common bats _. 379 

Literature cited 395 

Index 401 


The results of the field work carried on at various times in New 
Mexico by the Bureau of Biological Survey have been published in 
part as North American Fauna No. 35, Life Zones and Crop Zones 
of New Mexico (Bailey, V., 1913). 1 This includes a map of the life 
zones of the State, descriptions of the physiographic features, and 
lists of characteristic zone-marking plants, birds, and mammals. 
These bird and mammal lists were not intended to include all the 
species, and they give no notes beyond a statement of their proper 
places in the life zones and distributional areas. The complete report 
on the birds of the State has been published (Bailey, F. M., 1928), 
and that on the mammals, which has been delayed for several years 
beyond the completion of field work, is here presented. Many sup- 
plemental notes have been added in both to bring them up to date. 

1 Citations in parentheses refer to Literature Cited, p. 395. 

64909°— -32 1 1 


MAR 30 1932 



Since the expedition of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado to New 
Mexico in the years 1540 to 1542, trappers, explorers, surveyors, 
and naturalists have covered every nook and corner of the State 
and have gathered rich stores of specimens of the animal life for 
museum and private collections. This has been done without ex- 
hausting the resources in new, strange, and fascinating species. In 
1820 Stephen Harriman Long, of the Army Engineer Corps, accom- 
panied by Titian Ramsey Peale, Thomas Say, and William James, 
conducted an expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, 
returning through northern New Mexico. The first account of some 
of the animal life of the region, including the first name for the 
Rocky Mountain form of the mule deer, Odocoileus hemionus 
macrotis Say, appeared in their report. In 1825 and 1826, James 
Ohio Pattie, of Kentucky, crossed New Mexico diagonally from 
northeast to southwest with his small party of free trappers, and 
in his journal narrative gives many graphic notes on the undisturbed 
animal life of that time. 

In 1841 William Gambel visited New Mexico, mainly for the 
study of birds, but has left his name attached to mammals and 
plants also. In 1845 James William Abert explored northeastern 
New Mexico, and the following year with William Hemsley Emory 
traveled more extensively through the State, returning to Colorado 
on January 15, 1847. He did considerable collecting on this trip, 
and his name is commemorated by the beautiful tassel-eared Abert 
squirrel {Sciurus aherti dberti Woodhouse). In 1846 Emory accom- 
panied Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny on a military expedition 
through New Mexico to California, entering the State over Raton 
Pass, and journeying via Las Vegas and Santa Fe, down the Rio 
Grande Valley, over the Mimbres Mountains, and down the Gila 
River into Arizona. 

In 1851 Samuel Washington Woodhouse accompanied the expedi- 
tion of Lorenzo Sitgreaves, of the United States Army, as physician 
and naturalist. From San Antonio he went to El Paso, Tex., then 
followed up the river valley to the Puerco, up it to Laguna, thence 
to Zuni and down the Zuni River into Arizona, collecting specimens 
and he later gave scientific names to some of the mammals encoun- 
tered along the way. In 1853 Caleb Burwell Rowan Kennerly was 
attached as physician and naturalist to Lieut. Amiel Weeks Whip- 
ple's expedition to explore the route for a Pacific railroad near the 
thirty-fifth parallel. With Lieut. Joseph C. Ives he followed up 
the Rio Grande Valley from El Paso to Albuquerque, thence west 
to Laguna, Inscription Rock, and Zuni, and on into Arizona and 
later along the Mexican boundary. His mammal collections came 
to the United States National Museum and were described by Baird 
and others. Ursus kennerlyi Merriam was named from the skull of 
a grizzly bear that he collected just below the southwestern corner 
of New Mexico in Sonora. In 1854 John Pope crossed the Staked 
Plains of Texas, the Pecos River Valley, and around the southern 
Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico back into Texas, collecting 
the type of the Mexican badger (Taxidea taxus herlandieri Baird) 
near the New Mexico line. 


In 1864 Elliott Coues made a trip through New Mexico, stopping 
at Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Fort Wingate, and while he devoted 
much of his attention to birds he gathered many specimens and much 
information on mammals. 

In 1873 and 1874 Henry Wetherbee Henshaw, as ornithologist of 
the Wheeler survey, covered many localities in New Mexico, making 
extensive collections of birds and obtaining also specimens and notes 
on mammals. Again, in the summer of 1883, with Edward William 
Nelson, he made considerable collections of birds and a few of 
mammals on the upper Pecos, about 45 miles east of Santa Fe. Both 
Henshaw and Nelson later headed the Bureau of Biological Survey 
and both contributed important notes and information for the pres- 
ent report on the mammals of New Mexico. 

From 1884 to 1888 Robert Wilson Shufeldt, of the Medical De- 
partment of the United States Army, was stationed at Fort Wingate, 
where he collected many specimens of mammals and discovered and 
named the large-eared deer mouse {Peromnyscus truei Shufeldt). 
In 1886 and again in 1889 Alfred Webster Anthony collected birds 
and mammals in the Apache Hills a few miles south of Hachita 
and also covered much of the surrounding plains and both the Big 
and Little Hatchet Mountains. Most of his mammals went into the 
Merriam collection, now in the National Museum, and several species 
have been named from them. 

In 1889 under the direction of C. Hart Merriam, the writer first 
entered New Mexico to collect and study mammals and birds for the 
Bureau of Biological Survey, then the Division of Economic Orni- 
thology and Mammalogy, of the Department of Agriculture. A full 
account of ensuing field work at intervals over a period of 35 years, 
from 1889 to 1924, covering every part of the State, is given in the 
Birds of New Mexico, by Florence Merriam Bailey (1928, pp. 23-27). 

Other members of the Biological Survey who have assisted in the 
New Mexico field work on mammals are Basil Hicks Dutcher, 1892 ; 
Albert Kenrick Fisher, 1892 and 1894; John Alden Loring, 1892, 
1893, and 1894 ; James Hamilton Gaut, 1892 and 1893 ; Ned Hollister, 
1902 and 1905; Arthur Holmes Howell, 1903; McClure Surber, 1903 
and 1904 ; James Stokley Ligon, 1905, and later on predatory-animal 
control work; Clarence Birdseye, 1908; Edward Alfonso Goldman, 
1908 and 1909 ; Ned Dearborn, 1910 and 1911 ; Ralph Todd Kellogg, 
1912; Edwin Richard Kalmbach, 1913; and Alexander Wetmore, 

Field naturalists not officially connected with the Biological Sur- 
vey who have contributed materially in specimens and information 
on the mammals of New Mexico since the inception of the Biological 
Survey's explorations began, include many widely known for their 
activity in other fields of endeavor. Edgar Alexander Mearns, 
physician and naturalist of the Mexican Boundary Survey, made 
extensive collections of mammals along the southern border of New 
Mexico in 1892 and 1893. Ernest Thompson Seton did some col- 
lecting and gathered much information in 1893 and 1894, which has 
been placed on record in his various publications (1909-1925 and oth- 
ers ) . Charles M. Barber made collections in the vicinity of Halls Peak, 
at Mesilla Park, and in the Sacramento Mountains from 1895 to 1900. 


Louis Agassiz Fuertes, artist and naturalist, joined the Baileys in 
camp at Carlsbad and in the Guadalupe Mountains in the summer 
of 1901, collecting mainly birds and making field sketches and studies 
of both birds and mammals. Theodore Dan Alison Cockerell, while 
at the Agricultural College at Mesilla Park, N. Mex., published 
extensively on the natural history of the State and collected some 
mammals, including a new subspecies of weasel, which he and C. M. 
Barber named in 1898 Mustela frenatus neomexicanus. James A. G. 
Kehn and Henry L. Viereck in 1902 spent about 11 weeks in the 
Sacramento Mountain region of New Mexico, and lists of the collec- 
tions of mammals, birds, and reptiles they then made were published 
by Witmer Stone and James A. G. Kehn (1903, pp. 16-34). 

The specimens and records of the predatory-animal and rodent- 
control field men of the Biological Survey have furnished a wealth 
of material for preparing this report on New Mexico mammals. The 
records of the Forest Service also, which have been placed at the 
disposal of the Biological Survey, have furnished an important 
record of the status of game and predatory animals on the forest 
areas of the State from year to year. Valuable information on 
mammals also was contributed by Aldo Leopold while inspector 
of game conditions on the national forests and later as secretary of 
the New Mexico Game Protective Association. Annual reports of 
the State game and fish commission, contributions from hunters, 
ranchmen, and residents over the State, as well as published records 
have provided much additional general and specific information that 
has been of service in the preparation of this report. 


New Mexico is as rich in forms of mammal life as it is varied in 
types of environmental conditions. Hudsonian and Canadian Zone 
species extend down from the north through its mountain forest 
areas; Transition Zone species occupy its open yellow-pine forests; 
Upper Sonoran species of the semiarid Plains range over the eastern 
part of the State, and others from the Great Basin are found in the 
more arid sagebrush plains of the upper Kio Grande Valley and 
westward; while typical Lower Sonoran desert species occupy the 
Pecos, Rio Grande, and Gila River Valleys of the southern part of 
the State. Some typical Mexican species come into the desert ranges 
of the southwestern corner of the State and a few extend across into 
the Mogollon Mountain region. The mammals are mainly of the 
Rocky Mountain, Great Plains, Great Basin, and Desert types. 


The native mammals of a State are one of its valuable assets ; they 
figure largely in aiding pioneer settlement and development and, if 
wisely used and guarded, form a no less valuable source of revenue 
and recreation for the most highly developed sections of the country. 
On the other hand, predatory and crop -destroying species have 
caused a constant struggle on the part of residents from the time of 
the early settlers up to the present for the protection of their flocks, 
herds, and crops. Only recently, with the knowledge gained by years 
of study of the relationships of the species of mammals, of their 


characteristics, distribution, and habits, and of the methods of 
effectively protecting them or of controlling their abundance, has it 
been possible to solve many of the problems that will mean the great- 
est good to the greatest number of people in the State. Even with 
the necessary knowledge at hand nothing can be effectively done 
toward the protection, utilization, or control of the wild life without 
a full understanding of the facts and the full cooperation of those 
most vitally concerned — the resident population. 

The many species and subspecies of mammals recognized in New 
Mexico may be grouped under useful species, such as game animals, 
fur-bearing animals, and destroyers of insects and rodents ; or under 
harmful species, such as predatory animals and rodent pests. 

The principal native game mammals are elk, mule deer, white- 
tailed deer, little Sonoran white-tailed deer, antelope, mountain 
sheep, peccaries, bears (black and grizzly), jack rabbits, varying 
hares, cottontails, and tree squirrels. 

The principal fur-bearing mammals are the otter, mink, marten, 
striped skunk, spotted skunk, white-backed skunk, badger, ringtail, 
raccoon, opossum, coyote, wolf, gray fox, red fox, kit fox, desert fox, 
bobcat, beaver, and muskrat. 

The mammals especially useful in preying upon rodent pests are 
the badger, skunks, the black-footed ferret, and weasels. 

Those especially useful in destroying insect pests are the bats of 
all the 9 genera and 17 species; the shrews of the genera Sorex, 
Notiosorex, and Blarina; and the armadillo, all skunks, and the 
several varieties of grasshopper mice. 

The harmful predatory species are wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, 
an occasional jaguar, bobcats, occasional cattle-killing grizzly and 
black bears, and some of the game and poultry destroying foxes. 

The rodent pests include those conspicuously destructive to crops, 
forage, or forests, such as the four species and subspecies of the 
prairie dog; the numerous species of ground squirrels of the genus 
Citellus; and pocket gophers of the genera Geomys, Cratogeomys, 
and Thomomys, some of which are found in every part of the State. 

There are also many rodents that may be slightly injurious and 
if overabundant would be destructive to crops, forage, or timber. 
These are porcupines (Erethizon), chipmunks (Eutamias), the 
numerous species of wood rats (Neotoma), cotton rats (Sigmodon), 
kangaroo rats (Dipodomys and Perodipus), meadow mice (Micro- 
tus), red-backed mice (Clethrionomys), white-footed mice (Pero- 
nvyscus), harvest mice (Reithrodontomys), jumping mice (Zapus), 
and pocket mice (Perognathus). 


Two of the largest, most abundant, and most valuable of the game 
mammals of the State, the buffalo and Merriam's elk, have been 
exterminated or pushed far beyond the borders. The Rocky Moun- 
tain bighorn and the northern elk have been almost if not entirely 
destroyed in the State, but if properly protected they have a chance 
of returning through the mountains from Colorado. The antelope 
are rapidly shrinking in numbers and can not last long unless given 
better protection than they have ever received. The Mexican moun- 
tain sheep have been almost or quite destroyed along the border of 


the southwestern corner of the State, but the Texas species seems 
to be holding its own in the southeastern part. The deer are holding 
their own better than any other large game, but both their range and 
abundance are being reduced. The peccary, or Mexican musk hog, 
has only a slight foothold in the southwest corner of the State, and 
while not an important game animal it should be guarded as an 
interesting type of the region. 

Grizzly bears were once so numerous as to be a serious menace to 
human life and domestic stock, but now they are so scarce and so 
extremely shy that they may well be counted as game animals, unless, 
as occasionally happens, one gets back to the old habit of killing 
cattle. The black bear is still common in many of the mountain 
ranges, where it is usually harmless and is one of the most attractive 
forms of game and in addition yields a valuable coat of fur. 

The small game mammals need only such protection as will render 
them of the greatest use and prevent either their overabundance or a 
too great a reduction in their numbers. 

Fur-bearing species should be carefully guarded so that the greatest 
harvest of gelts may be gathered each season without curtailing the 
next year's crop. Skins taken when not at their best mean a partial 
or complete waste of time, labor, and material. A new industry of 
fur farming is slowly developing over the country and promises to 
add an important source of revenue for those who prove most skillful 
in some of its difficult details. 

The matter of protecting and encouraging useful species other 
than those valuable for game or fur is of more importance than is 
generally supposed. Those valuable destroyers of insects, the bats, 
if provided with suitable roosting and drinking places, could doubt- 
less be encouraged to remain where most needed. Such useful species 
as the badger and the armadillo, instead of being wantonly destroyed 
at sight by the unthinking and uninformed, should also be protected 
and encouraged in the good work they are doing. The cone-gather- 
ing pine squirrel is now becoming a valued assistant in reforestation 
by storing the seeds that are needed for extending the forests, and 
local sentiment is beginning to protect the bright little forester, 
formerly a target for wanton destruction. 


In the past vast sums of money have been wasted in a fruitless 
warfare on predatory animals and rodent pests because the methods 
followed were ineffective or sporadic. At present, with carefully 
studied methods, efficient organization, and hearty cooperation of all 
concerned, rapid progress is being made in gaining control of the 
predatory species and putting into the hands of individual ranchmen 
and settlers the information necessary for economical control of such 
rodent pests as are occupants of their lands. 


There are many problems presented for study in the mammal life 
of a State like New Mexico, but before any of the species can be 
handled intelligently as much as possible of the habits and life his- 
tory of each must be known. The present report aims to give in 


condensed form such information as is available, and to arouse 
a local interest and a closer study of the habits and distribution of 
animal life and a more hearty cooperation in the protection of game 
and other useful species as well as in the better control of those that 
have proved locally injurious. 2 (See also Taylor, 1930.) 


Under each species the distribution, habits, and economic status 
are treated as fully as the present state of knowledge will warrant. 
In many cases, however, the available information is meager, and 
comparatively little- can be given. 

Order MARSUPIALIA: Marsupials 
Family DIDELPHIIDAE: Opossums 


Texas Opossum 

Didelphis marsupialis texensis Allen, Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. Bui. 14 : 172, 1901. 

Type. — Collected at Brownsville, Tex., April 13, 1892, by F. B. Armstrong. 

General characters. — The Texas opossum is a true marsupial, about the size 
of a house cat, with soft gray or black fur, a pointed nose, naked black ears, 
and a long, naked, prehensile tail. The female has an abdominal pouch in 
which the young are nursed after birth until they are large enough to climb 
about and take care of themselves. 

Measuremetits. — Type specimen (adult male) : Total length, 820; tail, 410; 
hind foot, 70 millimeters. 3 

Distribution aitd habitat. — Opossums can be admitted to the New 
Mexico list only as rare stragglers along the eastern border, which 
lies just beyond their regular range. Hugh Campbell, of Monahans, 
Tex., wrote under date of April 14, 1909, that a few opossums had 
been taken there and that he knew of one instance of their occurring 
on the New Mexico side of the line. It seems most probable that 
this would be the southern long-tailed, black-eared form, texensis, 
extending up the Pecos Valley, rather than the eastern virginianus, 
which would not be likely to wander across the dry southern arm 
of the Staked Plains. It is not improbable, however, that vir- 
ginicmus may follow up the Canadian River Valley into New Mexico, 
as it has been reported from Tascosa, a short distance east of the 
line, and from Baca County, Colo., near the northeastern corner of 
New Mexico. 

Slow and almost defenseless animals like opossums, which are 
usually fat and edible, are not well adapted to open desert .country, 
as they depend mainly on cover for protection and for advantage in 
hunting their food. Opossums extend into the Great Plains region 
mainly along timbered or brushy stream valleys and are usually 
found within easy reach of water. 

2 Throughout the text acknowledgements of notes and records are given as they 
occur, but many duplicate notes have been made by different collectors and field natural- 
ists, so that full credit is not always accorded in this way. 

3 The three regular measurements given are : Total length, from tip of nose to tip of 
tail in a straight line ; length of tail, from the base, held at right angles to back, to tip 
of skin (not hah-s) ; hind foot, from tip of heel to tip of longest claw. Unless otherwise 
noted, all measurements are in millimeters. 


Order EDENTATA : Toothless or Peg-toothed Mammals 

Family DASYPODIDAE: Armadillos 


Texas Armadillo 

Dasypus iwvemcinctum texanum Bailey, North Amer. Fauna No. 25, p. 52, 1905. 

Type.— Collected at Brownsville, Tex., June 10, 1S92, by F. B. Armstrong. 

General characters. — This armadillo, the only representative of the great 
order of Edentates occurring in the United States, is characterized by simple 
peglike teeth and a shell-like skin with nine transversely joined bands over 
the back. 

Measurements. — Type specimen (an adult male) : Total length, S00; tail, 370; 
hind foot, 100 millimeters. An adult male topotype weighed 13 pounds. 

Distribution and habitat. — This armadillo enters the southeastern 
corner of New Mexico as a rare animal on the extreme border of its 
range. In a letter of March 14, 1909, J. R. Holman, of Monahans, 
Tex., wrote : 

Occasionally an armadillo is seen or captured in this region and for a dis- 
tance of 70 miles or more north of this place. Their favorite haunts are 
the sand hills east of the Pecos Valley, but they are also occasionally found in 
the valley. 

Hugh Campbell, of Monahans, Tex., also refers to the armadillo in 
a letter of April 14, 1909, as follows : 

Antelope and javelines range both sides of the New Mexico line, and there 
are a few armadillos, but they are very scarce. 

As Monahans is just below the corner of New r Mexico, both of these 
records from well-known ranchmen furnish ample evidence on which 
to admit the species to the New Mexico list. As there are numerous 
records from the Texas side of the line, it is probable that armadillos 
will be found extending for some distance into Eddy County, N. Mex. 
Recent records show that their range has extended eastward and 
northward in Texas, but as yet they have not been found beyond the 
limits of the Lower Sonoran Zone. 

General habits. — The question is constantly being raised whether to 
class armadillos as harmful or beneficial in their habits, and so many 
unsubstantiated charges of mischief are laid to them that it seems 
advisable to give some of the recent evidence in regard to their food 
habits that was not included in the report on Texas mammals. 
(Bailey, V., 1905, p. 51-56.) 

Food habits. — In March, 1906, G. A. Schattenberg, a nurseryman 
of Bourne, Tex., sent to the Bureau of Biological Survey the stomachs 
of four armadillos from that place with the request that the contents 
be identified. He says of this animal : 

I have found armadillos to be one of our most useful mammals in the way 
of destroying insects. They are slaughtered here by thousands for their shells 
by professional hunters. My aim is to create a sentiment among the rural 
population enabling me to submit a petition to our legislature asking for a law 
for their protection. 

In a letter of April 24, 1909, How T ard Lacey, of Kerrville, Tex., in 
sending to the Biological Survey the stomachs of three armadillos 
for examination, wrote : 

Every housewife in the neighborhood declares that they break up hens' nests 
and most people consider them responsible for the scarcity of wild turkeys and 

North American Fauna No. 53. U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey 


..„„)( ft 



quails for the last two years. In searching for grubs in the garden they dig up 
some plants, but this seems to be entirely unintentional mischief. Their usual 
method of hunting consists in nosing and rooting about under fallen leaves and 
vegetation or in rich mellow loam where insects abound. I have found places 
in rich moist soil where they kept the surface of the ground well stirred in 
repeated searching for food. 

On examination of the stomachs sent in from Bourne one was 
found empty, but the other three taken January 13 were all well 
filled, and although it was the time of year when insect life is least 
in evidence, the determinations of the late F. E. L. Beal showed that 
the diet was mainly insects, worms, millipeds, and spiders. No. 1 
contained identifiable remains of a large number of angleworms and 
ants, a few carabid and scarabaeid beetles and their larvae, and the 
larvae of tenebroid and lampyrid beetles and of cockroaches, several 
brown crickets, and a few spiders and millipeds. No. 2 contained 
about 80 per cent angleworms, several myriapods, a few carabid and 
scarabaeid beetles and larvae, young cockroaches, and a grasshopper. 
No. 3 contained about 70 per cent of angleworms, many myriapods, a 
few scarabaeid beetles and their larvae, and unidentified larvae of 
other beetles, young cockroaches, a spider, and a trace of a crawfish. 

All three stomachs taken at Kerrville in May, 1907, were well 
filled. Their examination by W. L. McAtee showed the following 
contents : No. 1 contained 43 caterpillars, mostly cutworms, 36 beetles 
of 11 species, 11 grasshoppers of 5 species, a large number of ants, a 
few fly larvae, spiders, and myriapods. No. 2 contained a large 
number of fly larvae, caterpillars, beetles, and ants ; a few grasshop- 
pers and bugs; and a cicada, 7 spiders, 30 centipedes, and several 
myriapods. No. 3 was more than half filled with 120 caterpillars, 
mostly cutworms, a large number of beetles and their larvae, a lot 
of small ants, a grasshopper, a bug, a few crickets, fly larvae, earth- 
worms, centipedes, nryriapods, and spiders. 

The wide range of insect food of armadillos seems to include most 
species with which they come in contact and to consist in greatest 
bulk of those most numerous and easily obtained. There is no evi- 
dence to substantiate the accusations that armadillos destroy garden 
vegetables or eat the eggs of poultry or game birds; moreover, the 
small and toothless opening of their mouths would render it difficult, 
if not impossible, for them to break or eat any but very small eggs 
or in any way to injure birds or young poultry. Although their 
food habits require further study, it now seems safe to conclude that 
armadillos are harmless and in a high degree beneficial mammals, 
and their extension of range should be welcomed rather than dis- 
couraged. The sale of their shells for baskets and curios should be 
severely condemned, as it threatens the extermination of these 
extremely interesting and useful little animals. 

Breeding habits. — Some interesting notes on the breeding habits 
of the armadillo have been contributed. Howard Lacey writing 
from Kerrville, Tex., says: 

I have twice found four young, and have heard of litters of four and two 
lots of sis. Young ones are active from birth and have their eyes open. 

In another letter he says : 

A female killed last spring had four embryos neatly packed up in a single 
large round sack, which they filled to its utmost capacity. They would have 
been born in another day or so, and would, I think, have been able to run 
about as soon as they were born. 


In a letter of April 4, 1911, the late J. D. Mitchell, of Victoria, 
Tex., wrote: 

On March 28 a Mexican boy brought me a couple of young female armadillos 
dug from their den the day before. The eyes were still closed and the navel 
cords still attached, indicating recent birth. I am sending you one of these, 
thinking it may be of interest. 

The young armadillo weighed, when received at the Biological 
Survey, 4% ounces, and measured 250 millimeters in total length. 
Although recently born it was very large for the size of the parent 
and well developed, with a tough, leathery shell. 

In a letter of February 6, 1912, Mr. Mitchell wrote : 

A dead female armadillo was brought to me by J. M. Fleming. There were 
four young in the uterus, all males, and gestation was apparently complete. 
This is the third litter that I have examined in the last two years in which 
all the young of the litter were of the same sex. 

Two of these fetuses were sent to the Biological Survey and are 
preserved as specimens. Plate 1 shows one of them natural size. 
Again on March 20, 1918, Mr. Mitchell took an old female armadillo 
from a den and found as usual four nearly grown embryos in her 
single-cell uterus. All these were males and were preserved and sent 
to the Biological Survey just as they were in the sack. Apparently 
four is the regular number of young, always of one sex and developed 
in a single vesicle of the uterus. 

Order ARTIODACTYLA : Hoofed Mammals 

Family TAYASSUIDAE: Peccaries 


Texas Peooary ; Havalin ; Musk Hog 

Dicotyles angulatus Cope, Amer. Nat. 23: 134, 1889. 

Type locality. — Guadalupe River, Tex. 

General characters. — A small, wild pig with straight, sharp canines, a short 
tail, a large musk gland on the rump, coarse bristles of a dark gray color, and 
a light stripe or collar encircling shoulders. 

Measurements.— Seton (1925-1928, v. 3) gives the total length as 34 to 40 
inches; tail, half an inch; foot, S 1 ^ inches. Ligon (1927, p. 97) gives the 
weight as 60 to 75 pounds. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Texas peccary comes into extreme 
southeastern New Mexico in the sand dunes along the eastern edge 
of the Pecos Valley, where it was reported as abundant in 1892 by 
B. H. Dutcher; as common in 1901 by Koyal H. Wright, of Carlsbad; 
and as common in 1902 by Merritt Cary, on the authority of reliable 
ranchmen and hunters. 

In a letter of April 14, 1909, J. R. Holman, writing from Mona- 
hans, Tex., just south of the southeastern corner of New Mexico, 

The peccary, or javeline, is still found in considerable numbers for a distance 
of 70 miles or more north of this place, but they seem to be disappearing as the 
country becomes more thickly settled by ranchmen. A goodly number of peccary 
hides are brought in by ranchmen from the surrounding country from time to 
time. The favorite haunt of these animals is the belt of sand-hill country east 
of the Pecos River, rather than the valley of the river not far away ; still they 
may be encountered occasionally in the valley. 


It is possible that a few remain at the present time, but this seems 

Yaqui Peccary ; Havalin ; Musk Hog 

Dlcotyles angulatus sonoriensis Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. 20:469, 1897. 
(Advance sheets issued February 11, 1897.) 

Type. — Collected at San Bernardino River, Sonora (near international bound- 
ary), September 8, 1892, by E. A. Mearns and F. X. Holzner. 

General characters. — Similar to the Texas peccary, but paler gray in color. 
Weight of adult male and female from type locality, 46 and 44 pounds, respec- 
tively. (Mearns, 1907, p. 167.) 

Distribution and habitat. — The pale peccaries of Sonora come into 
the southwestern corner of New Mexico, and in the summer of 1908 
were said to be still common in places in the Peloncilla Mountains 
and Cloverdale Hills. In 1893 Mearns found them in the Apache, 
San Luis, and Guadalupe Mountains along the Mexican boundary 
line and in brushy places on the plains around the base and up to 
the summit of the San Luis Mountains (5,000 to 7,000 feet) . (Mearns, 
1907.) In 1912 J. E. Sheridan, of Silver City, reported to Aldo 
Leopold, of the Forest Service, that probably 25 were still ranging 
in the country southwest of Big Hatchet Peak. In New Mexico they 
range mainly on the Upper Sonoran Mountain slopes, where dense 
chaparral and numerous caves in the canyon walls furnish excellent 
cover and safe retreats and where the food supply is unusually 
abundant. Here oaks of at least seven species drop their acorns 
at different times of year, while pine nuts, juniper and manzanita 
berries, and cactus fruits abound, and wild potatoes grow in the 
gulches. In the neighboring valleys mesquite anal acacia beans grow 
in abundance, and many of the thorny thickets are so dense as to 
furnish good cover. The peccary seems to be equally at home in 
the Upper and Lower Sonoran Zones if food and cover are satis- 

Economic status. — Although not important game animals, peccaries 
make fairly good food, and the skins and heads of old males are 
interesting trophies. Far more important, however, is the value 
of interesting native animals, unique in structure and habits, with 
a precarious foothold in one little corner of our great country, that 
will soon disappear forever if not given careful protection. A tract 
of otherwise worthless desert mountain range set aside for their 
maintenance would insure their perpetuation and eventually become 
famous as the only place in the country where a rare animal could 
be found on its native soil. 

Family BOVIDAE: Bison and Mountain Sheep 
American Buffalo ; American Bison ; Kah-noo-nah of the Taos Indians 
[Bos] Uson Linnaeus, Syst. Nat. Ed. 10, v. 1, p. 72, 1758. 

Type locality. — Mexico. Based on a captive buffalo in Montezuma's menag- 
erie in his capital, now the City of Mexico, several hundred miles south of 
the range of the species. Seen and described by Cortez in 1521. 

General characters. — The bison differs conspicuously from domestic cattle in 
the high hump over the shoulders, the woolly fur, and small tail. 


Distribution and habitat. — In 1540 Coronado reached the city of Ci- 
bola 4 [Zuni] where he found " ox hides " and said of the Zuni Indians : 

They travel eight days' journey into certain plains lying toward the North 
Sea. In this country are certain skins well dried, and they dress them and 
paint them where they kill their oxen, for so they say themselves. 

Prior to this the Zuni Indians (according to Niga, 1539) traded 
buffalo hides to the Indians in the Gila Valley. From Zuni Coronado 
traveled northeastward across the Rio Grande Valley and first met 
with the buffalo 4 leagues beyond Cicuye (the pueblo of Pecos), 
probably close to where the little town of Ribera now stands, at the 
crossing of the Santa Fe Railroad over the Pecos River. Here, he 
says, " they met with a new kind of oxen, wild and fierce, whereof 
the first day they killed fourscore, which sufficed the army with 
flesh." From this point eastward through Texas to " Quivira" (vil- 
lage of the Wichitas in Kansas) through " mighty plains," he says, 
"All that way, the plains are as full of crooked-back oxen as the 
Mountain Serene in Spain is of sheep." (Whipple etal., 1856, p. 111.) 

In 1582 another Spanish explorer, Antonio de Espejo, followed 
up the Rio Grande Valley to the Province of Tiguas (Puaray — near 
the present town of Bernalillo (Hodge, 1910, p. 748), and in two days' 
journey beyond came to another Province (probably near Santo 
Domingo), where he says "The country was fertile, and bordered on 
Cibola, where was abundance of kine." (Whipple et al., 1855, p. 
114.) This, probably also refers to the buffalo country east of the 
pueblo of Pecos, from which he was then only a few days' journey. 
In 1584 Espejo journeyed down the Pecos River Valley, a distance 
of 120 leagues, "all the way passing through great herds of buffaloes." 
(Davis, 1869, p. 260.) 

For the following 200 years the Rio Grande Valley was traversed 
back and forth by Spanish and American explorers and expeditions 
without any mention of buffalo in the valley, but there were many 
references to the Rio de las Vacas (the Pecos River), named for its 
abundance of buffalo. 

The Navajos and many of the Pueblo Indians of the Rio Grande 
Valley were great buffalo hunters, but so far back as the writer has 
been able to trace their records they journeyed east of the mountains 
to find their game or trade their wares for skins and meat. It is not 
improbable that for many centuries back the hunting population of 
the Rio Grande Valley helped to determine the western limit of 
range of the bison, but the more potent barrier of arid valleys seems 
to have marked the border line. 

No good evidence is found that buffalo ever inhabited the Rio 
Grande Valley in New Mexico or the country west of it. 5 (Fig. 1.) 

4 " Cibolas " was a name applied by the early Mexican arid Spanish explorers apparently 
to buffalo or to any buffalo-hunting Indians (Hodge, 1907, p. 299) and was probably 
applied to Zuni by Colorado as the first buffalo-hunting tribe or village that he 

6 In their Ethnozoology of the Tewa Indians, Henderson and Harrington (1914, p. 14) 
quote a note from J. A. Allen under date of Feb. 27, 1911, in which he savs that Edward 
Palmer, the well-known natural-history collector, had written him in i870 of finding 
" bison bones, some of them in a good state of preservation, about 20 miles west of 
Fort Wingate, N. Mex." This was on the route traveled by Whipple, Woodhouse, and 
Mollhausen 16 years before, and by many other naturalists since, and in a well-populated 
Indian country where the Indians seem to have no traditions of buffalo. On a military 
freight road between Fort Wingate and Fort Defiance it would not be strange to find 
bones of oxen, and it is not always easy in passing to say positively whether a few 
scattered bones are of cattle or bison. This record seems insufficient for extending the 
bison range to western New Mexico. 




A Tewa Indian picked up by Whipple in 1853 along the Canadian 
Kiver reported that many years ago his father had killed two buffalo 
at Santo Domingo, and a Mexican who accompanied this party of 
Indians said that in 1835 he had seen buffalo on the Kio del Norte. 
There is no clew to the Mexican's locality except that he came from 
the pueblo of San Juan (San Juan de Caballaros), 25 miles north- 
west of Santa Fe. It seems improbable that buffalo at this late date 
should occur in the midst of the most populous part of the Eio 
Grande Valley, unless as migrants or individuals lost or driven from 
the herds farther east. 

A few buffalo bones, a horn, and a small piece of skin, found by 
Walter Hough in a cave near Tularosa River in the Mogollon Moun- 
tains of extreme western New Mexico, have been supposed to indicate 
the former occurrence of 
buffalo in this region (Lyon, 
1907). The cave was con- 
nected with ruined walls 
and the bones from deep in 
the debris show traces of 
fire, so that human agency 
is evident in their location. 
From whence they were 
brought can be only con- 
jecture. The distance to 
the known buffalo range 
east of the Rio Grande is 
about the same from this 
cave as from Zuni, and parts 
of the animals could have 
been brought back from 
the hunt. It is possible 
that small bands of buffalo 
may have strayed this far 
from their usual range, but 
if they were ever of com- 
mon occurrence in this re- 
gion it must have been at 

very remote times, as there seem to be no other traces or records. In 
1540 Coronado passed near this locality, which was about four days' 
journey south of Zuni, and first reported buffalo eight days' journey 
northward [northeast] from Zuni. 

J. H. Byrne, en route east from El Paso, states that he found for 
the first time bois de vache at camp No. 10, February 26, 1854. (Pope, 
1855, p. 55.) This was V/ 2 miles east of the "Salt Lakes " near the 
present Texas-New Mexico line at the west base of the Guadalupe 
Mountains, at a spring called Ojo del Cuerbo [Crow Spring]. 
It was a regular camping place on the wagon road around the south- 
ern point of the Guadalupe Mountains from the Pecos Valley to 
El Paso, and also a place from which, up to recent times, salt was 
hauled to supply the Rio Grande and Pecos Valley settlements. The 
oxen of freight teams camped in this barren desert valley were un- 
doubtedly accountable for the bois de vache. It is still abundant 
there, and the writer used it as fuel as late as 1902. 

Figure 1. — Original distribution of Buffalo in New 
Mexico. The spots in the shaded area show 
actual records of former occurrence 


Lieut. J. G. Parke (1855, p. 13) on his route from the Gila River 
eastward to the Eio Grande, speaks of using bois de vache at his 
camp of March 10, 1854. The camp was at a spring at the base of 
Cooks Peak, " Picacho de los Mimbres," about 18 miles north of 
Deming and 19 miles east of the Rio Mimbres, on the old military 
and emigrant road to Fort Webster, Ariz., and to California. He 
says the road is " equal to a turnpike " (p. 13) and " the only route 
traveled by the emigration to southern California" (p. 12). Tne 
next camp west of the Mimbres was at Ojo de Vache (Cattle Spring, 
now Cow Spring). As emigrant travel was then largely by oxen, 
the bois de vache at regular camp places is easily understood as no 
indication of buffalo. In 1823 Major Long's party found buffalo in 
northeastern New Mexico on the head of Cimarron Creek and near 
the eastern line of New Mexico on the Canadian River, where they 
recorded herds of bison, antelope, and wild horses. (James, 1823, 
v. 2, p. 77.) In 1824 Pattie mentions killing buffalo on Cimarron 
Creek in northeastern New Mexico, but records no more on the 
journey over the Taos Mountains nor along the Rio Grande Valley 
or westward. (Pattie, 1905, p. 73.) 

In 1853 Lieutenant Whipple (1856, p. 34, 35) mentions buffalo signs 
and parties of Indian buffalo hunters near the Canadian River just 
east of the New Mexico line, but no more traces of the animal west 
of there. At this time, however, the Pecos Valley had also become 
well settled, and the village of Anton Chico was estimated to contain 
500 inhabitants, while La Cuesta and other towns along the Pecos 
had long been established. The western border of the buffalo range 
was evidently shrinking even then. 

In 1840 Allen (1876, p. 140) says they no longer ranged west of 
the Pecos River in either Texas or New Mexico, and in 1859 he was 
informed that there were no buffalo in New Mexico, and again in 
1876 that none had been found for a long time in any part of New 
Mexico, although he gives the range of the southern herd as then 
occupying northwestern Texas and Oklahoma from the one hun- 
dredth meridian to the eastern line of New Mexico (p. 153), and 
maps them as overlapping the eastern border of the State. Here, 
close to the northeastern corner of New Mexico, Hornaday (1889, 
p. 525) estimates their number at 25, and Seton (1909, p. 296) 
records the killing of four that year about 25 miles east of the line. 

Four buffalo were killed in 1884 near the southeastern corner of 
New Mexico, and one was killed in 1885 near the New Mexico line 
in the western part of Gaines County, Tex. (Bailey, 1905, p. 69.) 

In 1899 at Portales, N. Mex., and in 1902 on the plains east of 
Carlsbad the writer found the old buffalo trails still conspicuous and 
deep on the well-grassed slopes leading to watering places. 

In 1903 the writer talked with many of the Taos Indians, includ- 
ing their historian and the old men who in their younger days, up 
to about 1883, had hunted buffalo on the plains east of the moun- 
tains. These Indians at once grasped the importance of accuracy 
in giving information, and every record was thoroughly considered 
and given in the most careful detail. They said that the buffalo 
never ranged in their valley but were common on the plains along 
the east slope of the mountains and often ranged high up into the 


mountain valleys. The writer's guide and camp man, Sun Elk, who 
was then 36 years old, said that he was not old enough to go with 
parties for buffalo, but that his father, who was a great buffalo 
hunter, killed his first buffalo in Ponil Park (northeast of Elizabeth- 
town), and killed others in the upper valleys of the Vermejo, and 
that the animals were occasionally killed in Moreno Valley, where 
he had himself seen their bones and horns. These valleys are high 
up on the east slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and probably 
marked the extreme western limit of the buffalo in its original as 
well as its comparatively recent range. There seems to be no record 
of occurrence on the Rio Grande slope of these mountains for the 
hundreds of years that these Indians have lived here and handed 
down from generation to generation their history and traditions. 

The Indians told the writer many stories of their hunting trips 
after buffalo on the plains to the east — trips that extended as far as 
extreme northeastern New Mexico, onto the Panhandle of Texas, 
and south to the Pecos Valley, where bands of hunters from hostile 
tribes were often met and many battles were fought. There are 
still strips of buffalo skin among the Taos Indians, used mainly for 
decorations and ornament and highly prized, and there is said to 
be one fine robe among them that an old Indian is keeping to be 
buried in. There is a buffalo clan in this as in many of the pueblo 
tribes. The buffalo dance is one of the principal dances of the tribe, 
and it is set to stirring music of drum and voice to represent now 
the low hum of the grazing herd and then the heavy thundering of 
the thousand-hoofed stampede. 

The Indians recognized two species of buffalo — a larger northern 
and a small southern form. The southern form, from Texas and the 
Pecos Valley, called Zu-ke-ta kah-noo-nah, is said to have been small 
and slender, with thin hair, and rarely fat. They could run so fast 
that only a very good horse could catch one. The northern form 
called Zu-ta kah-noo-nah, ranging in the Arkansas River country 
and northward, is said to have been much larger, heavier, slower, 
longer-haired, and fatter. A cow of this form, it was claimed, was 
as heavy as a bull of the southern form. Since taking down this 
note direct from the Indians, the writer has been much interested in 
coming across a similar note published by Allen (1874, p. 55) in 
which he says : 

One of my informants assured me that the mountain bison occurs in New 
Mexico, and that the Mexicans and Indians recognize it as different from 
the buffalo of the plains, with which they are also familiar, and that they call 
it by a different name. 

On account of conflicting reports as to the characters of this 
mountain buffalo, Doctor Allen refused to recognize it as a valid form, 
but notes that the skulls that he found at 11,000 feet in the mountains 
of Colorado were larger, wider, and had longer horns than those 
from the plains country. 

To-day a few tame buffalo and catalo (hybrids with domestic 
cattle) represent the species in the State. On June 21, 1918, J. S. 
Ligon reported a herd of 45 buffalo on the ranch of E. W. and R. E. 
McKenzie, 15 miles south of Fort Sumner in the Pecos Valley. These 


are known as the " Buffalo Jones " animals and were bought by the 
McKenzie brothers from the Jones estate at Portales, N. Mex. The 
cows and young animals range by themselves, while five of the old 
bulls are generally seen together. They are gentle and docile but 
alert to all that goes on about them. They usually feed on the 
higher ground. They are quick to discover the approach of a rider 
and, though clumsy in appearance, are quick in action and run with 
ease. In moving they go in a bee line in a rather compact herd. 
When the writer saw the herd, at the end of one of the most severe 
droughts the country had ever experienced, the buffalo were in good 
condition, though the cattle were very poor and losses among them 
had been heavy. It was said that buffalo remain fat under conditions 
that would mean starvation to cattle. 

In 1923 the tame buffalo on the McKenzie ranch near Fort Sumner 
were reported to number 54 animals, and 33 were reported in 1925 
on the Bell ranch, while several other private herds were kept in 
western Texas. In the spring of 1924 a stray bull that had been 
wandering up and down the Pecos Valley was driven into a corral 
near Carlsbad, teased to a fighting fury to amuse the crowd of 
spectators, photographed, and then turned out to roam again over 
the valley to which the buffalo had given their name nearly four 
centuries ago. 


Rocky Mountain Bighoen ; Mountain Sheep ; Pkan qua na of the Taos 


Ovia canadensis Shaw, Naturalists Miscel. 15: 610, 1804. 

Type locality. — Mountains near Bow River, near Exshaw, Alberta. 

General characters. — Size large, hair coarse with fine wool near the skin; 
horns massive, and coiled in old males, slender and slightly curved in females. 
Color in fresh fall and winter pelage very dark drab gray, fading in spring 
to brownish gray. 

Measurements. — Adult male from type region : Total length, 1,540 ; tail, 140 ; 
foot, 460 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The bighorn of the high mountains 
of Colorado at one time ranged commonly down along the crest 
of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains as far south as the Truchas Peaks, 
Pecos Baldy, and Santa Fe Baldy on the east of the Rio Grande 
Valley, and probably through the San Juan Mountains to the Jemez 
on the west of the valley. There are few, if any, left in these regions 
at the present time, but with adequate protection in New Mexico 
the natural overflow from Colorado, where the sheep have been 
well protected, should eventually restock these mountains. 

In 1902, Dall DeWeese, of Canon City, Colo., prepared for the 
Bureau of Biological Survey a map of the range of the Colorado 
mountain sheep at that time, showing that they extended to the 
New Mexico line in the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan Mountains. 

In 1873, sheep were reported (Coues and Yarrow, 1875, pp. 68-69) 
common in the mountains near Sante Fe and a skull was collected for 
the United States National Museum. 

In 1903, while camping on the head of the Pecos, the writer was 
told that there were a few sheep farther north in the mountains but 


that there were none in the Pecos region. He found tracks and signs, 
however, at 12,600 feet on the Truchas Peaks, which, while not fresh, 
were unmistakably those of mountain sheep. The Alpine Zone of 
these mountains affords the most ideal combination of cliffs and crags 
that can be imagined for these northern sheep. The only great dis- 
advantage is their accessibility to hunter*, for horses may be ridden 
over the open slopes far above timber line, and the usually difficult 
climb before reaching sheep country is eliminated as a factor in 
natural protection. In the Taos Mountains farther north the same 
conditions prevail with series of rugged peaks rising far above timber 
line, usually steep and rocky on one slope but all too accessible on 
the other. In 1904 the writer was told that mountain sheep had been 
abundant in these mountains up to 25 or 30 years before. He found 
old sheep horns near Blue Lake at the head of Pueblo Creek, but at 
that time the animals were practically exterminated ; both ranchmen 
and Indians told him that none had been seen for several years. On 
the Culebra Peaks, still farther north in this range, he learned of one 
mountain sheep that had been killed in 1902, but this was the last 
that had been seen there. As these peaks are just south of the Colo- 
rado line, they would form the first steps in a natural restocking of 
the mountains of New Mexico from the Colorado herds ; while from 
thence southward to the Pecos Mountains there is no pass lower than 
9,000 feet, and the timberline crests of the range are but slightly 

In the San Juan Mountains, a lower and more accessible range west 
of the Rio Grande, mountain sheep probably disappeared at still 
earlier dates. In 1904 no recent record could be obtained from the 
ranchmen in the valley or the miners along the range south of the 
Colorado line. It is known, however, that in early days sheep ex- 
tended as far south as the Jemez Mountains, where Bandelier re- 
ported them in 1880, where old horns were collected by Doctor Ed- 
wards in 1873, and where recently an almost complete skeleton of a 
fine large ram has been taken from an old Indian game pit in 
Frijoles Canyon. The skull of this specimen is now in the United 
States National Museum. 

General habits. — These northern sheep are generally found above 
timber line on the high ranges and often in summer among the snow 
banks, or, farther north, among the glaciers, where they climb into 
the most inaccessible nooks and corners of the rocky peaks and cliffs. 
Their sure-footedness and skill in climbing are their great protection 
from natural enemies such as coyotes, wolves, and even cats, whose 
soft feet will not stand the rough stony slopes. Even hunters gen- 
erally hesitate to encounter the necessary difficulty and danger of 
following them to the limit of their lofty ranges with but a slender 
chance of success. The sheep have thus persisted longest on the 
roughest peaks. Unfortunately, however, the deep snows of winter 
often force them down into lower country where food is obtainable 
and where numerous enemies surround them and sometimes in soft 
snow destroy whole herds of the defenseless animals. Only under 
conditions of rigid protective laws and a sympathetic public senti- 
ment can they be expected to thrive on their most favorable grounds 
in our well-settled regions of to-day. 

64909°— 32 2 


Texas Bighorn ; Mountain Sheep 
Ovis canadensis texianus Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 25: 109, 1912. 

Type. — Collected in Guadalupe Mountains, Tex., near New Mexico line, 
September 2, 1902, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — Similar to canadensis, but paler in colors with heavier 
dentition. Distinguished from mexicanus by narrower face, nasals, and palate. 

Measurements. — From dry skin, adult male, total length, 1,490 ; tail, 70 ; hind 
foot, 370 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Texas bighorn comes just over the 
line into New Mexico on the west slope of the Guadalupe Mountains, 
where in 1901 the writer found their trails and tracks common over 
the steep slope east of Dog Canyon. There were also traces of them 
on the more barren desert ranges west of Dog Canyon, but at that 
time he could not learn of their occurrence farther north. In 1909 
the Forest Service reported them extending 24 miles north of the 
Texas line. In the report of the State game and fish warden of New 
Mexico for 1912-1914 (de Baca, 1914, p. 112), the number of sheep 
in the Guadalupe Mountains was estimated at 200, but a careful ex- 
amination of the range by J. S. Ligon in January, 1916, gave an 
estimate of probably not over 100 in this region. All the reports from 
the Sacramento, Capitan, and Jicarilla Mountains assert that no 
sheep have been known in these ranges in modern times. 

In the San Andres Mountains in 1902 Gaut saw the skull of an old 
ram, killed about six years before at Grapevine Spring by a miner, 
who also reported two sheep seen on Sheep Mountain only a year 
before. Gaut made a special trip to this mountain, but failed to find 
any signs of sheep there at that time. In 1903 he reported a small 
bunch living in the mountains between Bear Canyon and San Augus- 
tine Peak. He followed their trail for several days, but finally had 
to give up the chase, as they kept along narrow ledges near the sum- 
mit of the ridges, where they could see for a long distance. On the 
same trip he was informed that sheep formerly were found along 
the crest of the Organ Mountains, but that none had been seen there 
in recent years. The Huecho, Diablo, and Cornudas Ranges form 
closely connecting links of good sheep country between the Organ 
and Guadalupe Ranges. The steep southwestern slope of the Sacra- 
mento Mountains is also ideal sheep country, and it is highly probable 
that in the early days this desert-loving sheep practically surrounded 
the Tularosa Valley and in Texas extended almost continuously to 
the Chisos Mountains. 

Late in December, 1914, Ligon made an unsuccessful trip in the 
San Andres Mountains for sheep, visiting localities where he had 
known of their recent occurrence, but finding no traces of them. 
Later he learned from an old trapper where 30 or more were located 
in another part of the range (letter of January 3, 1915). Appar- 
ently they were holding their own. 

As most of the specimens of this species were taken in the Guada- 
lupe Mountains just south of the New Mexico line, a full account of 
their habits and habitat was given in the report on the mammals of 
Texas. (Bailey, 1905, pp. 70-75.) 

So far as known, the species inhabits mainly the Upper Sonoran 
Zone of the most arid desert ranges. In these low open mountains 



the sheep are so accessible to the neighboring settlements and so easily- 
hunted that their range has been greatly reduced. It is doubtful if 
at the present time any sheep occur within the limits of New Mexico 
except in the Guadalupe and San Andres Mountains. 

Food habits. — The food of these mountain sheep consists of leaves, 
twigs, buds, flowers, and seeds of a great variety of shrubs and 
native plants that are not eaten by domestic stock. In the examina- 
tion of a number of stomachs no trace of grass was found, and it is 
doubtful if sheep are in the habit of eating grass to any extent. It 
is evident therefore that any number occupying these desert ranges 
would in no way conflict with the few cattle ranging over the same 
ground, for in most cases sheep range on slopes too steep and rough 
for cattle and horses. 

The fact that the flesh of mountain sheep is the most delicious of 
wild game should furnish a strong argument for their protection, 
as it has been the most potent factor in their destruction in the past. 
In localities accessible to long-established settlements they have 
almost invariably disappeared. 

Protection. — With adequate protection for a term of years, the 
mountain sheep could doubtless be brought back to its original range 
and abundance. The difficulty of enforcing game laws, however, in 
these uninhabited mountains is almost insurmountable, and wholly so 
without the full cooperation of the resident population. The fact 
that these sheep occupy land that will always remain practically 
worthless for stock raising or other agricultural purposes makes it 
doubly important that their numbers should be increased. 

In the spring of 1924, while helping to explore the Carlsbad 
Cavern and neighboring caves of southeastern New Mexico, the 
writer covered some of the eastern slope of the Guadalupe Moun- 
tains near the line between New Mexico and Texas. Here the scat- 
tered herds of Texas bighorns that have so long struggled for exist- 
ence were barely holding their own against predatory animals and 
man. The most optimistic estimates of their present numbers do 
not exceed a hundred individuals, although there is ample room and 
ideal range for several thousand in the Guadalupe Range. At present 
they are scattered along the heads of Slaughter, Big, Franks, Gun- 
sight, McKitterick, and Guadalupe Canyons, mainly on the eastern 
slope of the range. Formerly they came down on the east slope to 
Rattlesnake Canyon and probably to Walnut and Dark Canyons, 
even below the level of the Carlsbad Cave. 

On April 29 and 30, 1924, their fresh tracks and signs were found 
well up in Slaughter Canyon, with well-used trails leading into one 
of the large caves. For ages this cave has been used by the bighorns 
as a refuge from storms, and the spring, or drip pool, at the far end 
of the cave seems to be visited at all seasons. Fresh sheep tracks and 
beds showed in the deep layer of sheep manure on the floor of the 
cave and a few old skulls of sheep were picked up near the doorway. 
The great cave room, 100 to 200 feet wide, 75 feet high, and extending 
back some 400 feet into total darkness, was dimly lighted near the 
entrance by a great arched doorway on the west side and a small 
opening on the east, and afforded an ideal shelter for comfort and 
protection. No signs of human habitation were found in this cave, but 
it may well have been used as a game trap by the human occupants 
of neighboring caves as well as by predatory animals. Bear tracks 


are sometimes found in the cave, but the mountain sheep would have 
a fair chance to escape from bears or mountain lions, as the cave is 
wide and clear, and most of the sheep beds were on a great heap of 
flat rocks fallen from the roof between the two doorways. The old 
bleached skulls near the big doorway were undoubtedly the work of 
human hunters who had taken unfair advantage of them in their 
comfortable home. 

Another large cave in the head of Franks Canyon is said also to 
be much frequented by the bighorns, and there are hundreds of 
smaller caves with wide open fronts along these high canyon walls, 
affording protection from storms and making this an especially 
favorable range for sheep. The mountain slopes are densely covered 
with chaparral, mountain plants, and grasses. The sheep are espe- 
cially fond of the browse of mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus), 6 
syringa, ceanothus, and other common shrubs, and feed to a great 
extent on the tips and leaves and seeds of other smaller plants, and 
probably to some extent on grasses and roots. They have no com- 
petitors on the range except mule deer, as domestic horses, cattle, 
sheep, and goats do not penetrate to these steep, rough, upper slopes, 
and the forage is untouched except by game animals that at present 
make little impression upon it. 

The whole summit and eastern slope of the Guadalupe Mountains 
from Guadalupe Peak in Texas north to Dog Canyon in New Mexico 
is now a permanent game refuge. It could easily support 1,000 
bighorns and 5,000 mule deer, as the deer range lower and more 
widely than the mountain sheep. If the game were protected and 
its natural enemies destroyed, this range would soon be fully stocked. 
Under wise control and a definite plan for use of the surplus game, 
either for hunting or stocking other ranges, such an area could be 
made not only self-supporting but a valuable piece of property. 
(See recommendations by Ligon, 1927, p. 92.) 

Mexican Bighorn ; Mountain Sheep 
Ovis mexicanus Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 14 : 30, 1901. 

Type. — Collected at Lake Santa Maria, Chihuahua, Mexico, September 16, 
1899, by E. W. Nelson and E. A. Goldman. 

General characters. — Horns more slender and spreading, colors paler than in 
canadensis or texiamis, face, nasals, and palate broader ; hoofs and ears very 

Measurements. — Type (adult male) : Total length, 1,530; tail, 130; foot, 
425 millimeters. 

Distribution and. habitat. — The only specimens of the Mexican 
bighorn from southern New Mexico in the United States National 
Museum are some old horns picked up by Mearns and Holzner in 
1892 in the Dog Mountains, close to the Mexican line. Though these 
do not show good characters of the species, the locality is so close 
to the type locality of mexicanus (Lake Santa Maria, Chihuahua) 
that there can be little question about referring them to that species. 

6 The names of plants In this publication are for the most part those used by 
Wooton and Standley in their Flora of New Mexico (1915). 


In 1892 Mearns found mountain sheep inhabiting the Dog, Big 
Hatchet, and San Luis Mountains in extreme southwestern New 
Mexico. He says: 

It was found by our surveying party as far east as Monument No. 15, near 
which, on the northern border of the State of Chihuahua, two were seen by 
Senor Luis R. Servin * * * in June, 1892. * * * Edward Rector and 
Jack Doyle had killed many bighorns on the Hachita Granda Mountain in Grant 
County, N. Mex., where I saw six in 1892 in the canyon at the east base. 
Numerous horns were seen in the neighboring Dog Mountains of New Mexico, 
and a large ram was killed within 500 yards of Dog Spring, Grant County, 
N. Mex., September 11, 1893. * * * On another occasion Mr. Van Ormen 
saw four sheep, and at another time eight, always in rugged canyons of 
the Dog Mountains. In the San Luis Mountains, where horns were found 
on the east slope in 1893 and signs of sheep were plentiful at the summit, 
its ranee extended from 1,700 to 2,498 meters [5,500-8,100 feet]. (Mearns, 
1907, p. 239.) 

W. T. Hornaday (1901, p. 121) recorded sheep brought into De- 
nting in 1900 from the mountains near the international boundary, 
40 miles southeast of that town, and sold in a meat market. 

In 1906 H. H. Hotchkiss told the writer that there were still some 
sheep in the Cloverdale range in the extreme southwestern corner 
of New Mexico. In 1908 E. A. Goldman found fresh tracks on the 
Big Hatchet Mountains between 6,500 and 7,500 feet altitude and 
was told by the ranchmen living in the valleys that there were at 
that time only a few sheep remaining in these mountains and prob- 
ably none in the other ranges of southwestern New Mexico. In the 
country north of Deming there seem to be no recent records. 

In 1907 Mrs. E. L. Fuller, of Lordsburg, reported that some years 
before her son had killed a mountain sheep at White Rock on the 
Gila and that there were then a few in the Burro and Carlisle 
Mountains, but in 1908 Goldman and the writer could get no recent 
records in that region. 

From the Mogollon Mountain region there are no recent records 
of sheep, but in January, 1825, Pattie, with his party of beaver 
trappers, passed through the canyon of the San Francisco Eiver 
and wrote in his journal that on the walls of these high and rugged 
mountains were " multitudes of mountain sheep. One of them that 
we killed had the largest horns that I ever saw on any animal." 
(Pattie, 1905, p. 91.) 

In 1905 Hollister reported old horns of mountain sheep found in 
various parts of the little ranges of mountains from the Magdalenas 
to the Zunis during the previous 25 years. All were very old, and 
no one appeared to know when living sheep were found in the region. 
In the Zuni Mountains Hollister was told that very old horns and 
parts of skulls had been found at times, often when wells were being 
dug or in mine work, but no one living in that region could remember 
when there were sheep on the range. 

In the great lava field south of the Zuni Mountains, some sheep 
heads with well-preserved horns have recently been found in the 
caves and among the Malpais, and two of these obtained by J. S. 
Ligon and sent to the Biological Survey resemble the type series of 
Ovis mexicanus more nearly than any other of the surrounding 
forms, and are referred to that species. 



[No. 53 

Family ANTILOCAPRIDAE: Pronghorned Antelope 


American Antelope ; Pbonghorn ; Tah ah-nah of the Taos Indians 

Antilope americanus Ord, Guthrie's Geography, Amer. ed. 2, v. 2, p. 292, 1815. 

Type locality. — Plains and highlands of the Missouri River. 

General characters. — Size of a small deer, horns of male erect, with recurved 
tip and flat prong in front ; deciduous annually. General color, buff with white 
rump and lower parts, and black markings on neck and face. 

Measurements. — Adult male from North Dakota: Total length, 1,320; tail, 
110 ; foot, 400 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Up to about 1889, when Biological Sur- 
vey work began in New Mexico, antelope ranged over most of its 

open plains and valley 

country, and in favorable 
places they were still found 
in large numbers. 

On the early expeditions 
they were encountered in 
great abundance over most 
of the plains country of 
New Mexico. In 1820^ Ma- 
jor Long's party found 
them common within reach 
of watering places in the 
northeastern part, and in 
1853 Whipple, on the sur- 
vey of the thirty-sixth par- 
allel, recorded them as un- 
usually numerous in the 
Canadian River Valley in 
the region of Tucumcariand 
Cuervo, and also along the 
Gallinas River. Near Zuni, 
in 1853, Kennerly reported 
them as m u c h hunted, 
scarce, and wild, but abun- 
dant a little farther west. 
The largest area from which they have entirely disappeared lies 
in the northwestern corner of the State, within the range of the 
Navajo Indians. In the early days of bows and arrows antelope 
were abundant over these great arid plains, and as late as 1883 they 
were still found in the San Juan Valley. (Fig. 2.) But L. C. 
Burnam, who has lived at Fruitland since 1881, told Clarence Birds- 
eye that he had known of no antelope in that valley since 1883. In 
1908 no recent record of antelope could be obtained in the Navajo 
region. The Navajo Indians are excellent hunters, and with their 
abundance of good horses and rifles have extirpated the antelope 
from their country. In 1904 a few were seen on the plains east of 
Tres Piedras and a few reported in the southern part of San Luis 
Valley close to the New Mexico line, but the Taos Indians could 
not remember when any had been seen on their side of the Rio 

Figure 2. — Distribution of antelope up to recent 
times in New Mexico ; the spots show actual 
records of occurrence : 1, Antilocapra americana 
americana ; 2, A. americana mcxicana. Type 
locality circled 


Grande. One of these Indians told the writer that in 1886, while 
the snow was a foot deep on the plains, a band of 200 antelope 
gathered on the open mesa west of the Rio Grande opposite the 
mouth of Rio Hondo. About 30 Indians went after this herd, armed 
mainly with bows and arrows, but a few with primitive firearms. 
From this herd they killed 96 antelope, and the Indians with the 
bows and arrows got a fair share of the meat, for an arrow lodged 
in the animal held it for the owner of the arrow against any number 
of bullet holes. The Indians told of a later herd noted on this plain, 
apparently early in the nineties, when 40 were killed. The method 
of hunting antelope on horseback with bows and arrows dated far 
back with these Indians, before the time of firearms, as it did with 
the Navajos, but apparently had produced little effect on the abun- 
dance of the game, as all kinds seemed to be plentiful until rifles came 
into common use. The usual method of hunting with bows and 
arrows was to drive the antelope back and forth until they were 
exhausted or forced into narrow places where they could be shot at 
close quarters. 

During the years from 1899 to 1918, when field work was being 
carried on in New Mexico by the Bureau of Biological Survey, the 
observed numbers of antelope underwent a marked decrease. In 
1899 the writer found them still common over a great part of the 
Pecos Valley and Staked Plains country of eastern New Mexico, and 
from the towns of Portales, Roswell, and Eddy (now Carlsbad) he 
could ride out and see small bunches at any time. 

In 1901 antelope were still found in small numbers in the Pecos 
Valley, 30 miles east of Carlsbad, and tracks were seen along the 
eastern base of the Guadalupe Mountains west of the Pecos, where 
the animals were said to be fairly common. In 1902 a few were 
seen at the southern end of this range and on the west slope on the 
edge of the great Salinas Valley. Farther north Hollister reported 
them as still common in the Pecos Valley, especially west of the river 
from Roswell to Santa Rosa. The same year Gaut was told that 
there were large numbers of antelope about 40 miles southwest of 
Santa Rosa, and he also reported them as common in the southeast- 
ern part of Galleo Canyon, 40 miles northwest of Corona. 

As a result of Gaut's work in 1903 he reported a small number 
on the plains just north of the Jicarilla Mountains, and many east 
and north of the Mesa Jumanes. Farther south he found them in 
the Alamagordo Valley about Jarilla in small numbers and a few 
about Parker Lake, where on June 28 he saw a bunch of five. He 
also was told that 10 years earlier antelope could be seen at any time 
of year in great numbers about Parker Lake. In 1903, far- 
ther north, A. H. Howell saw two near Clayton, and a bunch of five 
on the mesa at the foot of Sierra Grande, and the writer was told 
that there were still a few in the country along the northern edge 
of the Staked Plains from Santa Rosa to" Montoya. In 1904 a few 
were reported along the northern line of New Mexico west of the 
Rio Grande. 

In 1905 Hollister reported that the antelope had long since dis- 
appeared from the Wingate and the Laguna regions in western New 
Mexico, but stated that they were still plentiful farther south. He 
found a few scattered over the plains north of the Gallina and Bear 


Spring Mountains, and reported them as common on the plains of 
San Augustine west of Magdalena, where he saw several small 
bunches on a trip to the Datil Mountains. 

Later, in 1906, in western New Mexico, the writer found small 
bunches of antelope on the plains south of Acoma. A band of five 
or six was seen along the road just south of Punta Malpais, tracks 
were seen near Lathrop Spring north of Quemado, and they were 
reported as common on the plains of San Augustine. 

In 1908 antelope tracks were seen near camp at Beaver Lake on 
the Datil National Forest and at several places on the mesa south 
of the Elk Mountains. A bunch of 18 was seen at a salt trough near 
the head of Beaver Dam Creek at the east base of the Mogollon 
Mountains. There were said to be a few on the mesas at the head 
of Indian Creek south of the Corduroy Canyon and on the mesas 
north of Gila Hot Springs. They were most abundant, however, on 
the high plains country north and east of Beaver Lake and along 
the south side of the Elk Mountains — areas that open out on the 
north to the plains of San Augustine. Hank Hotchkiss, who was 
with the writer at the time and had camped during the previous 
winter near Beaver Lake while trapping for wolves, reported the 
antelope as abundant in that section. He saw them every day and 
counted as many as 80 in a band, and estimated that 600 or 700 were 
in that vicinity. He said the Navajo Indians were hunting there 
at the time, and he saw one of them trying to stalk a bunch of 
antelope by holding before him a canvas stretched on a hoop 
and painted like an antelope. In this particular case the cowboys 
scared the antelope by firing at them, but as they went off over 
the hill the Indian started after and followed them until they were 
out of sight. Hotchkiss said that antelope hair was a foot deep 
on the ground where these Indians, one of the regular Navajo hunt- 
ing parties of about 25, including women, had camped. The settlers 
in the region complained that these hunting parties were largely 
responsible for the rapid decrease of game. 

In 1909 E. A. Goldman reported antelope as common over the 
eastern part of the San Augustine Plains, where he saw small bunches 
of from five to nine almost every day. From the antelope he saw and 
the information he could gather from the ranchmen he estimated 
that the animals numbered at that time several hundred, but all 
agreed that they were decreasing year by year. 

In September, 1915, J. S. Ligon,"in crossing the Continental Divide 
northwest of Chloride, reported 20 antelope near Eastwater, 7 on the 
Cooney Prairie, and a bunch of does and 4 bucks on the mesa east 
of the Elk Mountains, in addition to a few scattered individuals 
along the way. In October he made another trip over this route and 
reported 40 antelope on the ridge north of Corduroy Canyon, about 
30 on the divide 23 miles northwest of Chloride, 29 about 30 miles 
northwest of Chloride, and 31 two miles farther to the northeast at 
Northwater. These were all very tame, and as the season for hunting 
deer and turkeys was then open, and there was no deputy game 
warden in that region, the antelope were being killed by hunters 
without restriction. More than 100 antelope were reported in a 


single drove in this region the previous winter, and as these are a 
part of the San Augustine Plains herd it was encouraging to find 
them still in such goodly numbers. On December 31 Ligon says: 

My estimate is that there are 1,200 head of antelope in New Mexico at the 
present time. The greatest numbers are in the V+T Range, on the head of the 
Gila River, Datil National Forest. No doubt there are 300 head in this region, 
and in the pastures of the Victoria Land and Cattle Company (Geo. Warren, 
Manager, Engle, N. Mex.) between Engle and San Antonio, N. Mex. And 
right here I desire to state that this company, and Mr. Warren especially, 
deserve credit in giving these noble creatures such good protection. The general 
opinion is that in the pastures of this company (which are Spanish grants) 
there are between 250 and 300 antelope which for the present at least are safe. 

On November 6, 1916, Ligon again visited this region in quest of 
wolves and ran into a bunch of five Navajo Indians with four pack 
horses loaded down with meat and hides of deer and antelope. Most 
of the meat was jerked and sacked, but two fresh antelope hides were 
seen among the deer hides tied to the packs, and, from the shooting 
heard in the open country where the antelope had been ranging and 
the fact that no more antelope were seen in that region for the two 
weeks of his stay, Ligon was led to believe that the antelope had been 
mostly killed or driven out. 

In June, 1918, he wrote to the Biological Survey : 

Such reports as I have received indicate that there are no antelope in the 
Pecos Valley proper, but there are some south and southwest of Dunlap, 25 or 
30 miles west of the river. 

The San Augustine Plains are the center of abundance of the ante- 
lope west of the Rio Grande and will probably be the scene of their 
last stand in the State. The location is ideal for an antelope preserve, 
which would be the only possible means of preventing the extermi- 
nation of the species. 

In the report of the State game warden for 1912-1914 (de Baca, 
1914, p. 23), a small bunch of antelope was said to be well protected 
on the Urica ranch, owned by George H. Webster. 

In a letter of March 14, 1917, O'Donel, manager of the Bell ranch, 
in San Miguel County, estimated the number of antelope protected 
in the pastures of this ranch at from 200 to 300. He stated : 

I regret to say that they are not increasing, notwithstanding effective pro- 
tection. The number that have been poached within the last 10 or 15 years is 
negligible, yet there are fewer antelope here than when I first knew the ranch 
19 years ago. I am convinced that the antelope's natural enemies are sufficient 
to keep down the increase, and chief among these are the eagles and coyotes. 

In 1916 Aldo Leopold, then in charge of New Mexico game and 
fish investigations of the Forest Service, gathered data on the 
number of antelope in New Mexico, using figures and estimates of 
forest rangers, game wardens, predatory-animal trappers, and ranch 
owners. He reported to the Forest Service a total of 1,740 antelope 
in the State, of which 250 were given as on national forests, 765 in 
fenced pastures, and 725 on open range. 

Ligon (1927, p. 87) gave the number of antelope in New Mexico 
in 1926 as approximately 2,950 animals, and showed a carefully 
prepared map of the areas occupied and the number of animals in 
each of the 39 bands known to be in the State. Since the elimination 


of wolves and a great reduction of numbers of coyotes and bobcats 
in the State and the awakening of public sentiment to the importance 
of protecting and increasing the game animals, there seems reason to 
hope for the gradual increase and final restoration of these beautiful 
animals to certain parts of their old range in numbers to insure the 
perpetuation of the species. (See also Nelson, 1925.) 

General habits. — Antelope are in every way a product of the open 
country, depending for protection on alertness, speed, numbers, and 
a clear field for escape. With a fair start no native animal can 
catch them on their own beat. Good race horses will overtake them 
on smooth ground, but as soon as they strike a stony surface the 
horses are left far behind. The great herds have always been on 
the wide plains and in the open valleys, where a few on guard could 
give fair warning, their white signal flashes showing far and their 
sharp snorting whistles still further warning the herds of approach- 
ing danger. 

In part of their range the antelope migrated regularly from the 
high, cool, wind-swept plains where they spent the summer to lower, 
warmer, more sheltered valleys where they spent the winter, but 
the migrations were local and irregular. In the lower, warmer part 
of their range they were mainly resident, and many of the dwindling 
herds remained on the same valley slopes for generations, circling 
and soon returning when driven off by hunters, dogs, or predatory 

Food habits. — Antelope are generally considered grazing animals, 
mainly because they live out on open grassy plains or valleys and to 
some extent they are. Early in spring the writer has found the 
stomachs of those killed by coyotes filled with a combination of new 
green grass and the old dry grass of the previous year. In winter 
they will eat grass hay and alfalfa hay, but they seem to prefer the 
latter. They eat a great variety of plants, are fond of alfalfa, and 
are often seen picking the tips, buds, and leaves off the small bushes 
and low plants. At times they eat enough sagebrush leaves to flavor 
the meat, but apparently only when better food is scarce. Their 
delicate lips are well adapted to picking the seed-laden heads and 
capsules of grasses and other plants, and when food is abundant they 
are generally fat or in good condition. Even above the surface of 
the snow they find ample food if the range has not been overgrazed 
by sheep and other stock. They are fond of salt and often visit " salt 
licks " or come for a share of the salt placed on the range for stock. 
They usually visit watering places daily where these are conveniently 
located, but with the help of their succulent food often go for several 
days without water if they must go far to reach it. 

Breeding habits. — Antelope are highly polygamous, and early in 
autumn the bucks, now with horns well hardened, begin to show 
signs of excitement. Fierce fights take place, and the victors exclude 
the vanquished from the herds of does, which are guarded and kept 
together until the rutting season is over. This generally lasts into 
or through the month of October. After the rut the horns of the 
males are shed, to be slowly renewed before the next breeding season. 
The young, usually two in number, are generally born in May, are 
without spots or other strong markings, and are largely dependent 
for safety on their excellent concealing coloration. 


Economio statics. — Aside from the unusual beauty and grace of the 
pronghorned antelope and their interest as the single representative 
of a unique family peculiar to North America, they have been of 
great practical value as one of our most abundant large game ani- 
mals, which for generations have provided an important food supply 
to explorers, travelers, settlers, and hunters generally. 

Their principal enemy has been man; but now with reduced num- 
bers their old-time enemies — the coyotes, wolves, bobcats, and eagles — ■ 
unless correspondingly reduced in numbers, will be able to get most 
of the young, while coyotes and wolves get some of the adults when 
deep snow or some unusual conditions give them the advantage. 
Sheep scab has also taken some antelope and possibly played an 
important part in their destruction but is now well under control. 

With present knowledge and experience in game and wild-life con- 
trol, there should be no difficulty in maintaining as many antelope 
as desired in any suitable areas where summer and winter food is 
available for them. 


Mexican Antelope; Mexican Pronghobn 

Antilocapra americana mexicana Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 14 : 31, 1901. 

Type. — Collected in Sierra en Media, Chihuahua, Mexico (about 10 miles 
south of the New Mexico border), October 4, 1899, by E. W. Nelson and E. A. 

General characters. — Colors paler than in americana; showing slight cranial 

Measurements. — Type (young adult male): Total length, 1,420; tail, 145; 
hind foot, 410 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Upper and Lower Sonoran valleys 
and plains of southwestern New Mexico. Formerly abundant in 
the most arid parts of the State, but now becoming greatly restricted 
in numbers. (Fig. 2.) 

Mearns (1907, pp. 226, 230) in his report on the Mexican boundary 
survey, said of this form : 

The pronghorn antelope is already a rare animal in the region of the South- 
west, where it ranged in thousands twenty-five years ago. * * * The 
antelope was not uncommon from the Rio Grande to the Animas Valley during 
the operations of the International Boundary Commission, and antelope and 
deer were largely depended upon for a supply of fresh meat. A trooper of the 
Second Cavalry, named Swartz, who was an excellent hunter, turned in more 
than 80 antelopes to the general mess from May to July, 1892. * * * Along 
the Boundary Line it was seen at every camp between the Rio Grande and 
the Animas Valley west of the San Luis Mountains (Monuments Nos. 1 to 68). 
In the vicinity of Dog Spring (Monument No. 55), New Mexico, 30 were 
shot for food between May 21 and June 13, 1892. * * * On our return to 
this region in 1893, antelope were abundant on the West Playas; some were 
seen on East Playas; and at Dog Spring, September 15 to 23 one herd of 30 
and several small " bunches " of them were noted. About 20 were seen on the 
trip from Lang's Ranch to Cajon Bonito, September 8, 1893. * * * On the 
San Luis Mountains they were found up to 1,650 meters (5,412 feet). 

In 1908 E. L. Munson, of Fort Bayard, in a letter to the Biological 
Survey, reported antelope as common along both sides of the South- 
ern Pacific Kailroad from the Rio Grande to the Arizona line, and 
several good-sized bunches between Fort Bayard and Deming. In 


the same year, J. W. Stafford, the writer's camp man, reported a few 
antelope between Palomas and Monticello and west of Engel in 
the Rio Grande Valley, and also two bunches that had been seen 
about 6 miles east of Carthage. In 1907 nine were reported along 
the road between Redrock and Lordsburg. 

In 1908, with the assistance of Goldman and Birdseye, the writer 
covered a large part of the desert country south and west of Deming 
and obtained many notes on the range and abundance of antelope. 
On the train between El Paso and Deming he saw 4 near the station 
of Lanark, and at Deming the driver reported a bunch of 3 seen 
about 7 miles west of town, and said there were a good many on the 
plains south of Deming. In the Animas Valley Goldman and Birds- 
eye saw 3 on the plain about 15 miles north of the Adobe ranch, 
and a few days later (August 6) the writer saw 3 in the same 
locality ; on August 9, 3 were seen near the Gray ranch in the south- 
ern part of the valley, and the following day 4 single antelope were 
observed between the Gray and Lang ranches. On August 11 the 
writer saw 1 on the summit of San Luis Pass and another on the 
Cienega ranch in Play as Valley, and a few days before a cowboy 
reported a bunch of 13 near High Lonesome in the southern end of 
this valley. In the southern part of the Animas Valley at this time 
the ranchmen reported antelope seen in small bunches almost every 
day, and bunches of 16, 27, and 35 seen during the preceding winter. 
They estimated 200 or 300 animals in Animas Valley, and from 
reports the writer estimated 100 in Playas Valley and 50 in Hachita 
Valley and south of Deming at that time. Later in the season 
Goldman reported them as occurring in small numbers in the vicinity 
of Tres Hermanos, a group of desert mountains southwest of the 
Florida Mountains, and on the White Water Plain about 30 miles 
northwest of Deming. 

In 1909 Goldman reported antelope as rather common on the plain 
10 or 12 miles to the south of Lake Valley and thence southward; 
a few at the base of the Salada Hills about 15 miles west of Las 
Palomas ; and also a few in the valley east of Socorro. The writer 
has not been able to examine any specimens from the Great Desert 
valleys, Jornada and Tularosa, east of the Rio Grande, but from the 
nature of the country he assumes that these also may be the Mexican 
form. Gaut reported a few small bunches in the southern part of the 
Tularosa Valley in 1903, and they were reported from the middle 
and northern parts of the Jornado Valley in 1906 and 1909 and from 
west of the Organ Mountains in 1908. 

In this desert region in times past the antelope were hunted at 
all seasons, and were forced to rely mainly upon their speed and 
alertness for protection. In Ligon's report (1927) about 366 ante- 
lope are shown on his map within the range of this southern form. 
With an awakened sentiment for their protection, it would now 
seem probable that they may be able to hold their own or possibly 
increase in numbers over these great desert valleys, where they add 
so much to the interest and value of the region. 

North American Fauna No. 53. U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey 



A Immature Rocky Mountain mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus macrotis) from Clayton, N Mex ; 
B adult Rocky Mountain mule deer from the Gallinas Mountains, showing typical forked 
antlers- C little Sonora deer (O. couesi) from the Mimbres Range, on same scale as Band u; 
D, plains white-tailed deer (O. virginianus viacrourus) from Oklahoma, showing the single-beam 
type of antlers. 




Family CERVIDAE: Deer and Elk 
Rocky Mountain Mxjle Deer; Pahna of the Taos Indians 
Cariacus macrotis Say, Long's Expedition to Rocky Mountains 2: 88, 1825. 
Type locality. — Mora River, near the present town of Mora, N. Mex.' 
General characters. — Size large; antlers forked (pi. 2, A and B), deciduous; 
ears very large ; glandular area on upper part of metatarsus about 4 or 5 inches 
long; colors dark gray in winter, dark reddish brown in summer; tail short 
and white with black tip, large white rump patches at sides of tail. 

Measurements. — Adult male from Manzano Mountains: Total length, 1,690; 
tail, 221; hind foot, 490; ear, from crown (dry), 225 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The large dark-colored mule deer of 
the mountains of all except the southern part of New Mexico (fig. 3), 
is represented in the Na- 
tional Museum collection 
by specimens from the Taos 
Mountains, the headwaters 
of the Pecos Kiver, and 
from the Manzano, Sacra- 
mento, San Juan, Gallinas, 
and Mogollon Mountains. 
The deer are still found 
in considerable numbers 
throughout these ranges 
and over most of the rough 
and unsettled part of the 
State. In the valleys, es- 
pecially in the more settled 
part, they have become 
very scarce or have entirely 
disappeared through per- 
sistent hunting. In north- 
western New Mexico, in the 
Navajo country, they are 
conspicuously absent, as 
are antelope and other 
game not protected by the 
religious beliefs of these 
hunting Indians. In the type region of northeastern New Mexico 
A. H. Howell found mule deer still present in small numbers in the 
canyons of the Raton Range in 1903, and in the same year the writer 
found them common a little farther south along the rough northern 
escarpment of the Staked Plains. At that time all the deer in that 
region were said to be mule deer, but in 1820 the hunter for Major 

7 The exact characters of hemionus and the consequent relation to macrotis will probably 
never be known, as there is little chance of ever securing a specimen of hemionus from 
near its type locality, the mouth of the Big Sioux River, southeastern South Dakota, 
but sufficient evidence is found to warrant recognizing the Rocky Mountain form as 
subspecifieally different from the Plains form. Before the names of the mule deer can 
be satisfactorily settled, it is important that specimens be secured from near the type 
localities of the species that have been described, and any fragments of an old skull 
containing teeth may prove of great assistance in determining characters. Horns are 
of little value for comparison, and the skulls of does are more important than those of 
the bucks. Skins not too faded to show color are important for comparison, and even 
skins without legs, collected by hunters near the type localities, may be of great assistance. 

Figure 3. — Distribution of mule deer in New Mex- 
ico, the shaded areas showing, approximate 
distribution, the spots showing actual records : 
1, Odocoileus hemionus macrotis; 2, 0. hemionus 
canus. Type locality circled 


Long's party reported two white-tailed deer in the bunch of five from 
which he obtained the type of macrotis. L. L. Dyche wrote that they 
were common in the mountains about the headwaters of the Pecos 
and Mora Rivers when he was there in 1881, and in these same moun- 
tains the writer found them still common in 1903, from 7,000 up to 
12,000 feet. From the middle of July to the middle of August only 
does and fawns were found at the lower altitudes, while a dozen 
bucks were seen in different places between 11,000 and 12,000 feet, 
around Pecos Baldy and the Truchas Peaks. At that time the deer 
were all in the dark red coats and the bucks with well-grown velvety 
horns were generally alone, and keeping very quiet on the open slopes, 
where they were free from insect pests and, overlooking the country 
below them, they were comparatively safe from enemies. One old 
buck, a couple of thousand feet below, which the writer picked out 
with a field glass from the top of Truchas Peak, was so large that 
it had the appearance of an elk, and so a second trip was made 
around the peak for closer inspection. It proved, however, to be 
one of the giants of its species, with magnificent, nearly full- 
grown horns. 

During the fall of 1903 and the summer of 1904 mule deer were 
found common on both slopes of the Taos Mountains and in the 
Culebra and Cabresto Ranges farther north. They were then most 
common in the dense windfalls and old burns high up on the slopes 
of the ranges, where they were protected from men and domestic 
stock. Late in the fall they were said to come down into the foothills 
and also the canyons, where a few years before they had been slaugh- 
tered in great numbers. McClure Surber, while in the mountains 
about Twining from October 7 to December 27, found no signs of 
deer high up in the mountains, but was told that during the winter 
of 1885, 263 mule deer had been killed in Hondo Canyon and almost 
as many during the fall and winter of 1886. During July and 
August of 1904 they were common about Wheeler Peak above 11,000 
feet. A doe with fawns was seen above 10,000 feet but her presence 
was probably accounted for by the pressure of an overstocked range 
and thickly settled valleys below. The deer were conspicuously scarce 
in the parts of the range devoted mainly to sheep grazing, but they 
seemed to be on good terms with cattle and horses where the range 
was not badly overstocked. 

In the San Juan Mountains west of the Rio Grande there were 
said to be a few mule deer, but in a week's work over the top of this 
range in 1904 the writer did not find a track or even an old horn. 
The range is so open and accessible that sheep and hunters have 
apparently excluded the deer. Still farther west in the Gallinas 
Range, or Mesa Prieta, they were fairly common that year, as they 
were also the following year in the Jemez Mountains. A fine buck 
killed on the Mesa Prieta on October 10 was estimated to weigh 300 
pounds and was in the full bloom of its early winter gray coat with 
black breast and coal-black face band and a strong buffy suffusion 
of the lighter parts characteristic of this mountain deer. The great 
extent of steep, rocky slopes and the dense scrub oak of these ranges 
have furnished natural protection and the favorite food of the mule 
deer long after they were driven from the more accessible areas. The 
same favorable conditions prevail over much of the Jemez Moun- 


tains farther south, where late in August and early in September 
of 1906 the deer were common throughout the roughest and most 
densely forested parts. Here, as elsewhere, the does and fawns were 
on the lower slopes and the bucks mainly around the higher peaks. 
On Santa Clara Peak two does were seen down near the edge of the 
nut pines at 7,000 feet, while an old doe kept her "awn hidden in 
a spruce gulch near camp farther up the creek ?' 8,000 feet. The 
slender tracks of the does were common throug 1 jut the yellow-pine 
belt, while the heavy tracks of old bucks wee frequently seen on 
Santa Clara and Pelado Peaks to the very s 1 " .imits. On Pelado Peak 
between 10,000 and 11,000 feet on September 6, four magnificent old 
bucks were seen together feeding in a little park. They were still 
in the rich red coat with full-grown velvet-covered horns, and though 
not more than 100 yards away they looked almost as large as elk. 
The next morning not far from camp in Valle San Antonio at 8,500 
feet, another bunch of four large deer in the red coat came down 
to the creek to drink an hour before sunrise. All those seen up to 
September 10 were still in the red coat. 

In the San Mateo or Mount Taylor group just north of Laguna a 
few old deer horns were seen in 1906, but no deer or tracks, and they 
were evidently scarce in this range as well as in the Zuni Mountains. 
In the Manzano Mountains in 1903, Gaut found mule deer common 
along the higher slopes and obtained several specimens in the dark- 
gray early winter coat. Usually in pleasant weather the deer were 
found on the open brushy slopes of scrub oak and mountain mahog- 
any, and in snowy weather in the dense forests of spruce and aspen. 
During severe storms even in this narrow desert range the deer were 
said to come down low in the foothills. Gaut also found a few deer 
in the Mesa Jumanes and in the Jicarilla, Gallinas, and Capitan 
Mountains and the rough country surrounding them in Lincoln 
County. The same year ( 1902) the writer found mule deer fairly com- 
mon throughout the Sacramento Mountains and on Sierra Blanca, 
where tracks were seen up to 12,000 feet. Over most of the Mesca- 
lero Indian Reservation the deer were scarce, as Indians are expert 
hunters and buckskin formed a part of their clothing and also a 
foundation for bead work; but in the remote corners of the reserva- 
tion and over other parts of the range, especially along the heavily 
timbered summit, the deer seemed to be fairly common. 

All the deer the writer has seen from high up in the Sacramento 
Mountains seem to be the dark northern form, but it is very probable 
that those keeping to the low desert spurs of the Guadalupe Range 
farther south are the gray mule deer. In 1900, M. H. Webb, of 
El Paso, Tex., told E. W. Nelson that the mule deer, then common 
in the Sacramento Mountains, often attained very large size, one 
which he had killed the previous fall weighing 375 pounds and 
another killed in the foothills the same season weighing 425 pounds 
after being disemboweled. 

During the open season of 1914 reports from the Forest Service 
showed that on the Alamo National Forest 86 deer were killed ; on 
the Lincoln, 34; on the Manzano, 11; on the Jemez, 16; on the Pecos, 
3 ; on the Carson, 25 ; on the Datil, 243 ; and on the Gila, 600. No 
distinction was made as to species, but probably half of those killed 
on the Datil and Gila Forests were the little whitetail, while the 


others were mainly, if not all, mule deer. By this count a total of 
1,018 deer were killed and accounted for on the national forests of 
New Mexico in one year. 

In the 1915 open season the Forest Service reported on the Alamo 
National Forest 57 deer killed ; on the Lincoln, 28 ; on the Manzano, 
20 ; on the Carson, 8 ; on the Santa Fe, 40 ; on the Gila, 203 ; and on 
the Datil, 300, a total of 656 deer killed on national forests. Prob- 
ably at least half of those killed on the Gila and Datil Forests were 
the little whitetail, the others mainly mule deer. 

The Forest Service reports for 1916 show that on the Alamo- 
Lincoln National Forest 127 deer were killed; on the Manzano, 32; 
on the Santa Fe, 50 ; on the Carson, 34 ; on the Gila, 125 ; and on the 
Datil, 250. 

The mule deer of the Mogollon Mountains is referred to the 
Rocky Mountain form, although in cranial characters a tendency 
is shown toward the lighter skull and dentition of the southern 
gray mule deer. It is a mountain-forest species with the gray 
heavily clouded with black, and the white markings suffused with 
buff as in those of the northern mountains. In 1906 this species 
was numerous in the mountains about the head of the Rio Mimbres 
and about the main Mogollon peaks in the Tularosa, western Datils, 
Elk, and San Francisco Ranges. In 1908 E. A. Goldman reported 
them from the western base of the mountains along the Gila and 
San Francisco Rivers, and in 1909 as occurring west of Chloride and 
Kingston on the east slope of the Mimbres, and in the San Mateo, 
Magdalena, Calluro, and Zuni Mountains. In 1905 Hollister reported 
them as then rare in the Zuni Mountains 8 and the low ranges between 
there and the Magdalenas, except in the eastern range of the Datils, 
where he found them fairly common. 

On the head of the Mimbres River during the latter part of May, 
1906, the mule deer were common about the writer's camp, singly or 
in small bunches of three or four. They were then without horns 
and were all in the dark-red summer coat. In August of 1908 they 
were still common through this region and to the north, about Beaver 
Lake and the Elk Mountains. The velvet-covered horns were then 
(August 28) practically full grown. During the latter half of 
October, 1906, while camped at 8,000 feet near the highest peaks of 
the Mogollons, the writer had a good chance to observe the range of 
these deer, which were then common up to the highest peaks, or at 
least to 10,500 feet, when the first snows began to fall. All the tracks 
seen at these high altitudes were large and evidently made by the 
bucks. A number of does and fawns were seen lower down between 
8,000 and 9,000 feet. All were then in the fresh dark winter coat with 
a maximum of black on the breast and face. Even when seen in the 
woods at reasonably close range, the very dark colors were strikingly 

In 1908 the mule deer, which were once common in the Burro 
Mountains, had entirely disappeared from that range, mainly 
through market hunting, and it is now impossible to say whether 
they were this northern species or the gray mule deer. Possibly the 

8 In 1856 C. B. R. Kennerly (1856. pp. 5-6) reported numerous herds of these deer 
both east and west of Zuni, where they are now very scarce or all gone. 


southern form originally inhabited the foothill country around the 
southern border of the Mogollon Mountains, but, if so, it has been 
entirely killed or driven out from the valleys and low, easily ac- 
cessible foothills. As the country becomes more densely settled, 
the deer will be exterminated from other mountains and rough coun- 
try unless great care is taken to furnish them adequate protection. 

In 1915 Ligon reported a few bunches of mule deer seen on a trip 
through the Mogollon Mountain country. He was told that they 
were not half so plentiful as they had been the previous year on 
account of the great number slaughtered in the region both in and 
out of season without regard to age or sex. During the open season 
hunters were so numerous that it was dangerous to be in the woods. 
In January of the next year he reported the species fairly common 
in the Guadalupe Mountains south of Queen, where he saw one doe 
and many tracks of others. 

In the absence of State or Federal game refuges in New Mexico 
some of the large ranches have done their best to preserve a rem- 
nant of the native game. On the ranch of the Adams-Bartlett 
Cattle Co., in Colfax County, between 3,000 and 4,000 deer were esti- 
mated in 1914 (De Baca, 1914, p. 23) on more than 400,000 acres of 
well-fenced and guarded land. In 1918 William H. Bartlett reported 
several thousand deer on the ranch. 

On another large ranch, that of the Bell Cattle Co. in eastern San 
Miguel County, C. M. O'Donel, general manager of the company, in 
a letter of March 14, 19,17, reports 2,000 to 3,000 mule deer, but says 
even so it does not appear that there are as many as there should be, consider- 
ing that practically none have been killed for 18 or 19 years inside our fences, 
though they sometimes go outside and are slaughtered by hunters. 

With the reduction in numbers of predatory animals, better en- 
forcement of game laws, and the provision of suitable refuges and 
winter range these finest deer of the State should be maintained 
over the rough, mountainous areas in any abundance desired. 

Gray Mule Deeb 
Odocoileus hemionus canics Merriam, Wash. Acad. Sci. Proc. 3: 560, 1901. 

Type. — Collected at Sierra en Media, Chihuahua, Mexico, October 7, 1900, 
by E. W. Nelson and E. A. Goldman. 

General, characters. — In color much paler gray in winter and more yellowish 
red in summer than macrotis; horns generally lower, wider, and slenderer. 

Measurements.— Type (male adult) : Total length, 1,830; tail, 230; foot, 500; 
ear, from crown (dry), 215 millimeters. 

Distribution amd habitat. — The pale gray mule deer are still com- 
mon in the desert ranges of southwestern New Mexico. (Fig. 3.) In 
1908 Goldman and Birdseye found them in the Animas, San Luis, 
Peloncilla, Hatchet, and Hachita Mountains and in the surrounding 
foothills and adjoining gulches. Their range often extends down to 
the edge of mesquite and other Lower Sonoran vegetation, but is 
mainly Upper Sonoran. They were not found near the higher parts 
of these ranges where the little whitetail was most common. On the 
64909°— 32 3 


west slope of the Animas Mountains they were seen as low as 5,500 
feet, and along the foothills of the Playas Valley they were reported, 
occasionally ranging out in the open valley. One was killed in 
the Hachita Mountains at one of the mining camps in July of that 
year, and a big buck was said to be frequently seen on Walnut Creek 
not far from High Lonesome at the southern end of the Playas 
Valley. They were reported in the foothills bordering Deer Creek 
near the Culberson ranch, and a fine head with antlers was picked up 
near the Lang ranch in the southern part of Animas Valley. In the 
San Luis Mountains Goldman reported them as occurring sparingly 
in the foothills from about 5,300 to 6,500 feet. In the Hatchet Moun- 
tains he found a few tracks at about 6,000 feet. He also reported 
them as occurring sparingly in the Florida Mountains, where they 
had formerly been more abundant and had ranged out for some 
distance on tne plains. 

All the specimens collected or examined from these mountains near 
the southern border of the State are typical canias, as would naturally 
be expected from the character of the country that they inhabit and 
from their proximity to the type locality of this desert species. Their 
northern limit, however, is not easily established, as the deer have 
disappeared from the low and open country north of Deming. In 
the Burro Mountains Goldman reported the mule deer as practi- 
cally exterminated, except for a few still said to occur along the 
lower western slope. These and others of which he saw the tracks 
along the Gila Canyon near Redrock and those reported near the 
town of Gila ought to be of this species, but no specimens were 
obtained. Mule deer have been reported from the Franklin, Organ, 
and San xlndres Mountains east of the Rio Grande, but no speci- 
mens have been taken. It is highly probable that these deer, as well 
as those occupying the desert spurs along the western base of the 
Guadalupe Mountains, can also be referred to canws, as the character 
of the country is identical with that in which the speciee is known. 
Its range seems to be mainly restricted to the extreme desert type of 
the Upper Sonoran mountains and foothills. In many places where 
the deer are most abundant there is no known open water for long 
distances, and it seems probable that they are able to exist on the 
moisture derived from fleshy and moisture-storing desert plants, such 
as agave, yucca, and sotol (Dasylirion). Their ability to live at long 
distances from water has been their greatest protection, both from 
hunters and from the crowding of the range by domesticated stock. 

Plains White-tailed Deer; Pah-htt-ma'na (Stream Deer) of the Taos Indians 
Corvus [sic] macrourus Rafmesque, Amer. Mo. Mag. 1 : 436, 1817. 

Type locality. — Plains of Kansas River. 

General characters. — Size large for a whitetail; horns with upright prongs 
from a single beam (pi. 2, D) ; leg glands small and low down on metatarsus; 

9 Until the rl^er of North America are more thoroughly studied, it seems best to use 
provisionally the name macrouruc for the pale white-tailed deer of the mountains and 
plains of New Mexico east of the Rio Grande. The only specimens from the State avail- 
able for study are a few skulls from the east slope of the Sacramento Mountains, but 
there are two ?ood specimens from close to the southeastern corner in the sand-hill 
region north of Monahans, Tex. This name is also used for the Colorado whitetail. 




tail long and bushy; ears small; color pale gray in winter, yellowish red in 
summer ; lower parts and lower surface of tail white. 

Measurements. — Female adult: Total length, 1,850; tail, 245; hind foot 425; 
ear from crown (dry), 145 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — White-tailed deer still occupy the east- 
ern slopes of the Sacramento and Sangre de Cristo Mountains and 
the stream valleys and gulches, reaching out on the plains farther 
east. (Fig. 4.) In 1901 they were still common in the sand-dune 
country 30 to 40 miles east of Carlsbad, and there were a few on 
the west side of the Pecos Valley. In 1902 they were common along 
the east slope of the Sacramento Mountains, especially in the willow- 
bordered stream valleys. In the northeastern corner of the Mesca- 
lero Apache Indian Reservation they were especially abundant, and 
this section was known as the " whitetail " country. At Ruidoso, 
near this corner, the writer 
examined 30 sets of deer 
horns brought in by the In- 
dians from the vicinity, 
about half of which were 
whitetails. The same year 
Gaut reported white-tailed 
deer as common in Gallo 
Canyon north of the Jica- 
rilla Mountains. He also 
reported them in the vicin- 
ity of Corona. In 1903 
they were still common 
along the east slopes of the 
Pecos River and Taos 
Mountains, inhabiting the 
willow stream bottoms and 
aspen slopes of the range 
and being especially com- 
mon along Coyote Creek 
north of Mora. In 1904 the 
Taos Indians told the writ- 
er that white-tailed deer 
were then very rare on the 
west slope of their mountains but still fairly common along the 
east slope of the range. 

On the Bell ranch, in San Miguel County, the manager, C. M. 
O'Donel, in a letter of March 14, 1917, wrote : 

We used to have a bunch of 15 or 20 whitetail running in the river bottoms 
at the lower end of the ranch, but when the railroad was built through that 
part of the grant in 1902 they were all either shot or run out. I heard of one 
last year, but he has not been seen again. 

Generally this species is found in the willow thickets of Upper 
Sonoran and Transition Zones, but it sometimes penetrates to the 
high mountain slopes where conditions are favorable for food and 
protection. On July 23, 1903, on the east side of Pecos Baldy, the 
writer saw a small whitetail buck in the red summer coat with half- 
grown velvet horns, at 11,400 feet, just below timber line. This habit 
of seeking the highest elevation during the time when their horns are 
soft and tender is common with the bucks of most species of deer in 

Figure 4. — Distribution of white-tailed 4eer in 
New Mexico: 1, Odocoileus virginianus macro- 
urus ; 2, O. couesi 


mountainous regions and has little bearing on the general distribu- 
tion of the species. It is considered an effort to avoid the annoyance 
of flies and other insects lower down. While the does and fawns 
usually remain at lower altitudes during the summer, they also work 
gradually upward toward fall and descend with the first heavy snows. 
It is therefore difficult to assign zonal positions to most species of 
deer in mountainous countries, and the difficulty increases as the 
animals become more scarce and are more disturbed by hunting. 

This white-tailed deer will soon become exterminated from the open 
country in New Mexico, and the only possible hope of keeping it from 
entirely disappearing from the State will be to give it a permanently 
protected breeding ground where conditions are suitable for food and 
shelter. Within its present range these conditions could be obtained 
in great perfection on the eastern slope of the Sacramento Mountains 
and along the southern and eastern slopes of the Sangre de Cristo 

ODOCOILEUS COUESI (Coues and Yarrow) 

Sonora Deer; Fantail 
Cariacus mrginianus var. couesi Coues and Yarrow, Wheeler Survey 5 : 72, 1875. 

Type locality. — Camp Crittenden, Pima County, Ariz. 

General characters. — The Sonora, or fantail, deer are about half the size or 
weight of the Virginia whitetail, which they resemble, in antlers (pi. 2, C) and 
general characters. The old bucks reach a maximum of about 100 pounds in 
weight and the does probably 75 pounds. They are graceful little deer with 
large ears and long bushy tails that spread when erect in great white fans, 
blending with the white of the inner surface of the hams and the belly until, 
as the deer go bounding away through the brush, the gray body is often lost to 
view in a series of white flashes that seem larger than the whole deer. From 
the stubby-tailed mule deer of the same region they are easily distinguished, 
even at long range, by their small size, long white tails and the gray summer 
coats of adults. 

Measurements. — Large buck : Total length, 1,530 ; tail 270 ; hind foot 402 ; ear 
from crown, 203 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — In New Mexico the Sonora deer occupy 
the mountain ranges west of the Rio Grande as far north as the 
Datils and possibly to the Zuni Mountains. (Fig. 4.) There are 
specimens in the Biological Survey collection from the Animas, 
Mimbres, Mogollon, San Mateo, and San Francisco Mountains. In 
1908 Goldman reported them as formerly abundant in the Burro 
Mountains, but at that time apparently all gone. In 1909 he was 
told by residents that there were a very few of them in the Zuni 
Mountains, but in previous years neither Hollister nor the writer 
had been able to get a trace of them in this range. Goldman also 
reported them as not uncommon in the San Mateo Mountains, where 
he saw their fresh tracks and picked up one of their characteristic 
little antlers at 9,000 feet altitude. In the Mimbres Range west of 
Chloride and Kingston he reported them as occurring in limited 
numbers. The same year officers of the Forest Service reported 
them in the Datil, Gallinas, Magdalena, and San Mateo Mountains. 

In May, 1906, while camping on the head of the Mimbres River 
the writer found them common over the live-oak and pinyon slopes 
of the mountains, as well as up in the yellow-pine forest. They came 
into the little pasture around camp every night and were frequently 
seen over the slopes. H. H. Hotchkiss reported that he used to hunt 
them for the market at Silver City and had hauled in many wagon- 


loads of their carcasses. He said that none of them weighed over 
70 pounds dressed, and that the several heads of bucks picked up 
around the camp for specimens were as large as any he had ever seen 
in that part of the country. 

During October, 1906, these little deer were common in the 
Tularosa Mountains and at that season most abundant along the 
crests of the high ridges from 8,000 to 9,000 feet altitude, in the 
Transition and Canadian Zones. Their tracks were numerous, and 
a number of deer were seen and a few old horns picked up. They 
were also reported as common in the San Francisco Range west 
of the town of Frisco, where in 1908 the writer found them still 
common and picked up shed horns. Around the borders of Luna 
Valley and over the slopes of the Escudilla Mountains on the 
border between New Mexico and Arizona, they were also common. 
During the latter half of October, 1906, while camping on Willow 
Creek, which is the extreme head of the middle fork of the Gila, 
the writer found them quite numerous over the wooded slopes of the 
mountains from 8,500 feet up to 10,000 feet. The first snows were 
then falling and he followed the deer tracks over the mountain 
ridges to the crests of all but the few highest peaks where they 
undoubtedly occasionally climb. At that season their principal 
range seemed to be in the Transition Zone, but they would often 
wander during the night through the Canadian Zone, and some were 
started from their beds at altitudes of 9,000 and 9,500 feet, well 
toward the upper part of this zone. 

An adult doe shot October 20, for a specimen, weighed before 
being dressed 61 pounds, and only 50 pounds after being eviscerated 
for carrying to camp. She made a light back pack for the 2 miles 
to camp a thousand feet below. Although she had raised a fawn 
during the summer, she was in good condition, and her blue coat was 
dense and glossy. 

In crossing the Gila National Forest during the latter half of 
August, 1908, the writer found these little deer common in the Mim- 
bres or Black Mountains, at Beaver Lake in the Elk Mountains, and 
in the Mogollon and San Francisco Mountains. Their tracks were 
abundant throughout the region from the blue-oak and nut-pine 
gulches up through timbered slopes of the mountains to the highest 
point reached — the top of Elk Mountain at 10,200 feet. The deer 
were frequently seen, and all the adults were then in the gray coat 
in striking contrast to the mule deer that were then all in the red 
summer coat. This substantiates the writer's previous conclusion in 
regard to Texas specimens of the species that the adults are perma- 
nently gray at all seasons. (Bailey, 1905, p. 64.) The horns of 
the bucks were practically full grown but still in the velvet with 
soft tips. A 2^2-year-old buck, taken August 30, showed well-devel- 
oped 2-point horns and a trace of the red coat, which it was then 
losing and which after that age would never return. The 3-year-old 
buck collected in the Animas Mountains August 7, 1908, was in the 
perfect gray coat of the adults, with velvet horns not fully devel- 
oped. Its weight was estimated at 80 pounds, and though not fat it 
was in good condition. 

These Sonora deer were then numerous in the Animas Mountains, 
mainly in Transition Zone above 7,000 feet, where the steep, rough, 
and densely brushy slopes form an apparently safe retreat for them. 


No stock and few hunters ever reach these difficult upper slopes, 
where the only trails are those made by deer and bears. The ridge 
tops of these mountains are parklike, with groves of pine and Doug- 
las spruce on one side and orchards of oak, juniper, and nut pine 
on the other, while the lower slopes are densely covered with chapar- 
ral of scrub oak, manzanita, and mountain mahogany. Creeks and 
springs of pure cold water are found in the gulches and rarely extend 
down into the chaparral. Although the natural features of these 
mountains have protected the deer to a great extent, a few persistent 
hunters could easily exterminate them. 

Food habits. — The stomach of the doe collected in the Mongollon 
Mountains October 20 was full of green leaves but without a trace 
of grass or acorns. Among the unchewed leaves in the paunch were 
recognized those of vetch, thermopsis, strawberry, geranium, aspen, 
two species of Senecio, and some lichens. The lower, or true, stomach 
was filled with finely masticated vegetable pulp in which nothing 
could be identified. 

In the paunch of another young buck collected in the Mogollon 
Mountains in August only leaves and seed pods of hosackia were 
identified. The bulk of the contents was made up of various herba- 
ceous plants that could not be recognized, but there was evidently 
no trace of grass in it. 

The paunch of a 3-year-old buck collected in the Animas Moun- 
tains in August was filled mainly with twigs, leaves, and seeds of 
the abundant mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) so 
slightly masticated that stems, fruit, and uncut leaves were easily 
identified. There were also a few stems and leaves of geranium and 
other plants that could not be recognized but no trace of grass. 

Better protection needed. — In September, 1915, J. S. Ligon re- 
ported Sonora deer still common in parts of the Mogollon Mountains, 
but much less so than formerly, owing to unrestricted hunting in 
season and out. On December 31, he wrote : " The number of deer 
killed in New Mexico during the season just closed far outnumbers 
the increase for the 3 7 ear, I am quite sure." These mountains now 
form the principal range of this species in New Mexico, but as the 
country fills up with settlers the deer will entirely disappear unless 
given better protection than they have received in the past. The 
sentiment among the ranchmen of the region is generally in favor 
of game protection, but in these remote sections it is difficult to 
enforce the laws. The many game refuges in these mountains will 
now doubtless insure the perpetuity of this interesting little deer, 
as well as the mule deer, Merriam's turkey, and Mearns's quail. 


Crook's Black-tailed Dees 

Dorcelaphus crooki Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. 20: 468, 1897 (p. 2 of advance 
sheet, 1897). 

Type. — Collected at summit of Dog Mountains, Grant Countv, N. Mex., June 
9, 1892, by E. A. Mearns and F. X. Holzner. 

General characters. — Mearns described this remarkable deer from a specimen 
that he collected on Dog Mountains near the international boundary line June 
9, 1892. His type in the National Museum consists of a perfect skull of an 
adult doe, accompanied by the skin of its head and neck and a section of the 
back, the complete tail, and both hind legs up to the heel. Besides the type of 



this species, Mearns refers to a specimen from Bill Williams Mountain, Ariz., 
which he considers the same. 

In his original description and the very full account of the species in his 
Mammals of the Mexican Boundary (1907), Mearns considered Crook's black- 
tailed deer a relative of the Columbia blacktail, which it strongly resembles. 
It occurs, however, in a region a thousand miles from the known range of the 
Columbia blacktail. Since Mearns's description was published the Biological 
Survey has carried on field work for several seasons in the country around the 
type locality, and frequent inquiry as to the occurrence of such a deer has 
failed to elicit any information in regard to it. The two well-known species of 
deer — the gray mule deer and the little Sonora whitetail — are common in 
these adjoining mountains. Every hunter and ranchman knows them well, 
and would be quick to recognize a form so strikingly different as Crook's 
blacktail. The only conclusion to be drawn is that this deer is either an 
extremely rare species or that the type is a hybrid between the gray mule deer 
and the little whitetail, and the characters fully justify the latter conclusion. 
The tail, which is the most striking external characteristic, is fully black above 
and white below, and is better haired and more bushy than in the mule deer and 
less so than in the little whitetail ; it is also naked on the underside near the 
base for a greater distance than in the whitetail, but much less than in the 
mule deer. The metatarsal glands on the hind legs are also in size and 
position a fair average between the little low-down gland on the whitetail 
and the large high-up gland of the mule deer. They are about 2 inches in 
length, situated halfway from the dewclaw to the point of the heel. The full sum- 
mer pelage of the type taken June 9 is somewhat unique, being a brownish gray, 
which is perhaps a good compromise between the bright tawny summer coat of 
the mule deer and the permanently gray coat of the adult little whitetail. 

In skull and dental characters the compromise is equally perfect. This is 
seen most strongly in the long and somewhat narrow nasal bones, the medium 
depth of the lachrymal pit, the medium long and narrow symphysis of the 
lower mandibles, and the light and narrow molariform teeth. While most of 
these characters are shared to some extent with the Columbia blacktail, there 
are ample differences on which to separate it from that species. The lachrymal 
pit in Columbiamis is almost as deep as in the mule deer and the nasals as short 
or shorter and equally wide and flat. The body color differs considerably also, 
and if crooki belonged to that group it should be considered a well-marked form. 
The fact that mule deer and white-tailed deer hybridize when without mates of 
their own species has been fully proved. A mounted specimen of spotted fawn in 
the United States National Museum collection was raised in the National Zoolog- 
ical Park from a mule deer and a Virginia whitetail. When only a few months 
old it showed the perfect compromise in relative size and position of metatarsal 
glands and had the medium long tail with wholly dark upper surface. 

Measurements. — Type of crooki (adult female): Total length, 1,440; tail, 
195; foot, 400; ear from crown, 220 millimeters. 

J. W. Griggs, of Goodell, Iowa, has successfully crossed these 
deer for many years and found the offspring hardy and fertile 
(Griggs, 1909). While hybrids are rare among unrestrained wild 
animals, it is not improbable that a pair of these two species of deer 
may have been stranded on some isolated peak or range during the 
rutting season and that a hybrid resulted. This seems the most 
probable explanation of a very puzzling specimen. 

American Elk ; 10 Wapiti ; Tu una of the Taos Indians 

[Cervus elaphus] canadensis Erxleben, Syst. Regni Anim. 1 : 305, 1777. 

Type locality. — Eastern Canada. 

General characters. — Next to the moose the largest of North American deer, 
with heavy and annually deciduous antlers, tail a mere rudiment, colors dark 
brown and buff with a buffy or whitish rump patch. 

10 To avoid confusion it seems necessary continually to reiterate that the American elk, 
or wapiti (Cervus), corresponds to the Old World stag, or red deer, while the American 
moose (Alces) corresponds to the Old World elk. 



fNo. 53 

Distribution and habitat. — There is probably no museum specimen 
of the elk from northern New Mexico, but from its continuous range 
with the Colorado elk it may be safely considered the same form as 
that extending down through the Rocky Mountains from Montana 
and formerly reaching its southern limit in the Sangre de Cristo and 
Jemez Mountains approximately on a parallel with Las Vegas and 
Santa Fe. (Fig. 5.) There is slight probability that wild indi- 
viduals of the native elk are still to be found in the mountains of 
New Mexico, but if they are it is probably in the San Juan and 
Sangre de Cristo Mountains just below the Colorado line. If not, 
the natural restocking of these wild and rugged mountains is entirely 
possible through adequate protection of the animals on both sides 
of the line and the natural increase and overflow of the present 
Colorado herds. 

In 1902 Dall De Weese, of Canon City, Colo., in mapping the 
range of elk in Colorado, indicated their presence down to the New 

Mexico line in the San 
Juan Mountains, but in 
1906 in crossing this range 
a little farther south the 
writer could find no signs 
of elk, although much of 
the country is ideal for 
them and they were re- 
ported by Pike as abun- 
dant in 1807 (Coues, 1895, 
p. 597) and by Cope as not 
uncommon here in 1874 
(Cope, 1875). 

In 1892 C. H. Fitch, 
of the United States Geo- 
logical Survey, reported elk 
in the " Tierra Amarilla 
Mountains " (the San 
Juan) , east of Tierra 

In September, 1909, 
Harry C. Hall, acting 
supervisor of the Carson 
National Forest, reported two bull elk seen by forest rangers in the 
San Juan Mountains southeast of Tierra Amarilla. 11 

In 1906, the writer saw a fair-sized elk horn in a good state of 
preservation on the fence at a Mexican ranch near Jemez Hot 
Springs, and was told that it was picked up on Cebolla Creek in the 
central part of the Jemez Mountains. He could get no records of 
elk in the Jemez Mountains in recent years, but has no doubt that 
they once covered these mountains, which are in close connection with 
the San Juan Range. 

In 1880 L. L. Dyche jumped a fine old bull elk in the mountains 
west of Las Vegas, near the head of Gallinas Creek, but on his hunt- 

Figorb 5. — Original distribution of elk in New 
Mexico : 1, Cervus canadensis ; 2, C. merriami 

11 Report transmitted by the Forest Service to the Biological Survey, accompanied by 
map showing locality. 


ing trips in these mountains in the three subsequent years he found 
no trace of elk except occasionally old bleached horns. (Edwords, 
1893, and letter from Professor Dyche of Feb. 10, 1911.) 

E. W. Nelson, who in 1883 was staying near the head of the Pecos 
River, says that a few elk were reported in the mountains about 
there at that time. 

While in these mountains in 1903, the writer could get only indefi- 
nite rumors that elk once were there, as apparently none had been 
heard of for many years. Farther north in the mountains northeast 
of Taos he was told by several reliable persons of an elk killed by a 
hunter in 1902. Still farther north in this range in 1904 he saw a fine 
large elk horn hanging on the Anchor mine just south of Comanche 
Creek. It was well bleached and probably 6 or 8 years old, but he 
was told that elk had been killed in these mountains only two or 
three years before. 

On June 24, 1911, Thomas P. Gable, then Territorial game and 
fish warden of New Mexico, wrote to the Biological Survey that he 
had recently purchased from J. B. Dawson, of Routt County, Colo., 
12 elk, including 9 cows and 3 bulls 3 to 4 years old. Four of these 
were placed in Potato Canyon, 15 miles northwest of Raton, another 
small herd in Cimarron Canyon, and another in Gallinas Canyon, 12 
miles above Las Vegas Hot Springs. At the date of his letter four 
calves had been born and all were doing well. A year later (June 
24, 1912) the succeeding game warden, Trinidad C. de Baca, wrote 
that he was arranging to place these elk on the Pecos National For- 
est, but apparently they did not all reach there, as in his 1912-1914 
report (de Baca, 1914, p. 23) he mentions the elk planted in May, 
1911, on the Uracca ranch having increased to 14, and those planted 
at the same time on the property controlled by William H. Smith, 
near Brilliant, having increased to 15. These were all under fence 
on excellent range and in good condition. 

He further says : 12 

In Colfax County the Adams-Bartlett Cattle Co. purchased a few years ago 
a small band of elk, and in 1914 this had increased to a herd of about 50, 
which ranged at will in the great fenced pastures of this company. 

In the same letter he reported 50 elk shipped from the Yellow- 
stone Park at Gardiner, Mont. Three of these died en route, 6 were 
placed on the property of Apalonio A. Sena at Park Springs, San 
Miguel County, and the rest were kept in an inclosure on the Valley 
ranch at the southern border of the Pecos National Forest until such 
time as the roads should open so that they could be liberated farther 
up the valley. 

Strong pleas for game refuges, especially for the protection of elk 
in the Pecos Mountains and other parts of the State, have been 
repeatedly made, and now there are many big-game refuges in the 
State of New Mexico. Public-spirited ranchmen are using their 
private holdings as real and effective game refuges, but there is little 
encouragement in introducing game to areas where, when it has be- 
come abundant and unsuspicious, it may be wiped out of existence. 

12 Letter from Trinidad C. de Baca, Mar. 25, 1915. 


Merbiam's Elk; Chyze'-ze-soha of the Hopi Indians (Mearns) 18 
Cervus mcrriami Nelson, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 16 : 7, 1902. 

Type. — Collected at head of Black River, White Mountains, Ariz., in August, 
1886, by E. W. Nelson. 

General characters. — Size fully equal to Cervus canadensis of the Rocky 
Mountain region, with skull and horns more massive and horns more erect. 
Color paler and more reddish. 

Distribution and habitat. — Merriam's elk is now probably extinct ; 
certainly it no longer occurs in New Mexico. Forty years ago it 
was common in the Sacramento, White, and Guadalupe Mountains 
east of the Rio Grande, in the Mogollon group of mountains west 
of the Rio Grande, and in the White Mountains of Arizona. (Fig. 
5.) There are old records for the Datil and Gallina Mountains of 
Socorro County and a doubtful record for the Manzano Mountains. 
To the north there are no more elk records until the Jemez and 
Pecos River Mountains are reached, where the Colorado elk comes 
down from the north. 

In 1811 Humboldt wrote : 

The enormous stag horns which Montesuma showed as curiosities to the 
companions of Cortez might have come from the deer [elk] of New California. 
I have seen two found in the monument of Xochicalco which have been pre- 
served in the palace of the viceroy. (Translation.) 14 

Humboldt surmises that these horns may have come from the elk 
found near Monterey, Calif., of which he speaks, evidently being 
unaware that a much larger elk was common in the mountains of 
southern New Mexico whence Montezuma's specimens more probably 
were obtained. 

In 1874 J. A. Allen in publishing some notes on mammals obtained 
from E. D. Mecham, of Ogden, Utah, who had spent 20 years as 
a trapper and guide in the Rocky Mountain region, quoted an inter- 
esting statement in regard to this elk. (Allen, 1874, p. 65) : " Mr. 
Mecham has seen them as far south as the Mexican boundary and 
speaks of having met with droves of 2,000 individuals in southern 
New Mexico." 

In a letter from Blue, Ariz., dated May 26, 1906, D. B. Rudd, 
assistant forest ranger, wrote to the Forest Service : 

In the year 1876 when my father moved to this part of the country the elk 
were very plentiful and could be found in large bands in the White Mountains 
and in the Blue Range, more particularly on the head of Black River. As 
late as 1890 elk could be found but not so plentifully. Since the year 1895 
I can not find that any have been seen. Whether they were killed or whether 
the coming of cattle and sheep into their range caused them to leave might 
be a question. 15 

In a letter from Nutriosa, Ariz., dated May 25, 1906, G. B. Chapin, 
deputy forest ranger, wrote to the Forest Service : 

While patrolling on a mesa between Black River and the higher plateau of 
of the Blue Range about two years ago I discovered bedding signs, then probably 
one year old, of a small band of elk. I also found a pair of antlers which I 
placed in a tree for protection from damage by fire or otherwise. The exact 

"Mearns. 1907, p. 219. 

M Cortez captured the city of Mexico in 1521 ; Humboldt lived there in 1803-^i. 

15 From copy of letter transmitted to the Biological Survey by the Forest Service. 

North American Fauna No. 53. U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey PLATE 3 


Antlers of Elk 

B5519 B1827M 

A, Old antlers of Merriam's elk (Cerrus merriami) photographed at a ranch in the 
Sacramento Mountains in 1903; B, antlers of a large bull of Merriam's elk taken 
in the same mountains in 1881, now in the United States National Museum collection. 


place as near as I can remember is on a little mesa facing a canyon known 
locally as Conklins Draw, between Fish Creek and Bear Wallow, about a mile 
east of Black River. I was told by James Warren, now deceased, of a band 
of elk ranging high up in the White Mountains on the southern slope of Bakly 
about four years ago. It would be possible for a remnant of elk to still be 

In 1873 H. W. Henshaw, on a hurried trip into the Mogollon 
Mountains on the headwaters of the Gila, found tracks of elk but 
failed to find the animals. 

In 1882 E. W. Nelson heard of elk from some prospectors at 
Chloride, N. Mex., who told him that they inhabited the Mogollon 
Mountains near the extreme headwaters of the Gila River. In 
1884 he saw a doe and two young buck elk hanging at a hunter's camp 
in the mountains 10 miles east of Frisco, and was told that a good- 
sized band was then ranging on the head of Negrito Creek. Two 
years later he collected specimens in the White Mountains of Arizona, 
from which he eventually described the species. 

In a letter transmitted by the Forest Service, June 12, 1906, Forest 
Ranger John Mundy, who has long been familiar with the Mogollon 
Mountains, said: 

To the best of my knowledge the elk is now extinct in the Mogollon Mountains, 
as I do not know of any being seen since the year 1888. Up to that time the 
elk were plentiful. In the winter of 1885 I was given a piece of bull elk killed 
by Phil Long, of Negrito. During that year there were three of these animals 
killed near Elk Mountains. At that time elk horns were scattered all over 
the country. Two elk were killed in the Elk Mountains in 1S88 by some 
cowboys, and this is the last account I have of them. 

A Mr. Delgar, living at Joseph, in 1906 told the writer that tracks 
of three elk were followed from the Tularosa Mountains to the Elk 
Mountains in 1883, but he had not known of a live elk in the country 
since. Their horns were common in the Tularosa Mountains in 
those days. In 1890 Spence Hill, who then owned the Gila Hot 
Springs, killed a cow elk and a bull elk in the Mogollons. The 
mounted head of the bull, which was said to be unusually large and 
perfect, was kept for several years in Silver City and then sent to 
Mr. Hill's father at Coffeyville, Kans., but the writer has not been 
able to locate it. 

H. H. Hotchkiss, who came to the Mogollons in 1892 and has 
hunted and prospected there ever since, saw a fine bull elk on Lily 
Mountain, north of the main peaks of the Mogollons, in 1894, and 
says that later in the same year ranchmen reported tracks of three elk 
in the mountains. This seems to be the last trace of a live elk in the 
Mogollon Mountains, but old horns and bones were found in 1906 on 
the head of the Gila. 

In the Mimbres Range it has not been possible to get a trace of 
even old elk horns from residents who have ridden the range there 
since 1886. In the Datil Mountains in 1905 Hollister was told by 
several ranchmen of old elk horns found there, but none of the 
oldest inhabitants remembered when elk were there. In the Bear 
Spring and Indian Spring Mountain country he was also told by 
ranchmen who had lived there more than 20 years that they had 
never known any elk there, but that in the early "(lays horns in a state 
of good preservation were found. These mountains probably formed 
the northern border of the range of the species, as careful inquiry 


among the residents of the Zuni and Mount Taylor Ranges produces 
no record of even an old antler. 

In 1903 Gaut heard from a ranchman living high up in the north- 
ern part of the Manzano Mountains that a fine old bull elk had been 
seen near his house in the fall of about 1901, but as this is the only 
record obtained from these mountains it was probably a very large 
mule deer, as Gaut suggested. Still it is possible that a stray elk 
from the White or Sacramento Mountains may have wandered up 
there after the last recorded appearance in those ranges. 

In 1900 M. H. Webb, of El Paso, Tex., told Doctor Nelson that 
elk were formerly very numerous in the Sacramento Mountains, but 
had been practically exterminated. Two were killed in the fall of 
1898, and in the fall of 1899 the track of a solitary individual was 

In 1902 while in these mountains the writer could get no records 
of elk killed or even seen later than 1893. Old elk horns (pi. 3, A) 
and parts of skulls were seen at a number of ranches throughout the 
mountains, and several fragments saved indicate that this was also 
Merriam's elk. So far as known, no complete specimen, nor even a 
mounted head of this elk is in existence from any point in New 
Mexico, although there are a few old horns and part of a skull from 
near Ruidoso, and horns have been seen at ranches east of Cloudcrof t 
and in the Mogollon Mountains. 

A set of the characteristic heavy horns of this elk for many years 
adorned the walls of the Cosmos Club in Washington, D. C, but the 
skin of the head on which they were mounted was from a Wyoming 
elk. The history of this head, which has since been placed in the 
National Museum collection, was furnished by C. H. Fitch, of the 
Reclamation Service, in 1911. The elk was killed in the Sacramento 
Mountains, N. Mex., and the horns, in the spring of 1881, were given 
to J. W. Sansem, who then had a store at Seven Rivers. Sansem 
gave them to Fitch on condition that they should be brought to 
Washington, which they were, by salt wagon to Roswell, burro pack 
to Santa Fe, and express to Washington. Mr. Fitch first saw them 
in May, 1881, and was told that the elk had been killed a short time 
before. He said that they were joined together by the top of the 
skull and weighed 46 pounds. Further detail concerning the horns 
was received from Sansem, who wrote on April 30, 1911, that when 
he first went to New Mexico in 1880 the settlers told him that there 
had been hundreds of elk in the Sacramento Mountains, but that 
not more than 20 were left. The horns in question, he stated, were 
given him by a stage driver, Billy Wilson, and came from a large 
bull killed between the Hondo and Sacramentoi Rivers, near the White 
Mountains, at about 7,000 feet altitude. 

Examination of this specimen, now in the National Museum, shows 
that by the removal of the skin from the head and the basal portion 
of the skull three good measurements are afforded for comparison : 
Post-orbital breadth of skull, 171 millimeters; mastoid breadth, 176; 
diameter of brain case back of horns, 120. In the type skull of 
Cervus merriami these measurements are 160, 170, 115 millimeters, 
respectively. The horns measure, chord of curve from butt to tip : 
Right horn, 1,270 millimeters (50 inches) ; left, 1,170 millimeters (46 
inches) ; over outer curve, right, 1,663 millimeters (65,5 inches) ; left. 



the same; inner brow tine from butt to tip, right, 407 millimeters 
(16 inches) ; left, 381 millimeters (15 inches) ; circumference of beam 
above brow prongs, right, 197 millimeters (7.75 inches) ; left, 193 
millimeters (7.7 inches). Plate 3, B, shows how long and nearly 
upright these horns are. 

Order LAGOMORPHA: Eabbits and Rabbitlike Animals 
Family LEPORIDAE: Rabbits and Hares 


Rocky Mountain Snowshob Rabbit; Qua-ma-pe-wena of the Taos Indians 
Lepus bairdii Hayden, Amer. Nat. 3 : 115, 1869. 

Type.— Collected in the Wind River Mountains, Wyo., June 2, 1860, by F. V. 

General characters. — A medium-sized mountain rabbit, larger than the cot- 
tontail and smaller than the jack rabbits, with medium-long ears and very 
large and hairy hind feet. Body brown in summer and feet and belly white; 
in winter pure white all over except the dark tips of ears. 

Measurements (average). — Total length, 459; tail, 39; hind foot, 146 milli- 

Distribution and habitat. — The Rocky Mountain snowshoe rabbits 
extend into northern New Mexico along the Sangre de Cristo Range 
on the high ridges along both sides of the Pecos River to about the 
latitude of Santa Fe and Las Vegas and down the San Juan and 
Jemez Ranges west of the Rio Grande. This is the extreme southern 
limit of range of a species that occupies an extensive area in the 
Rocky Mountain region and belongs to a still more widely distributed 
group of boreal rabbits. While mainly a Canadian Zone species, 
bairdi extends into the Hudsonian Zone nearly to timber line. In 
the Sacramento Mountains near Cloudcroft a rabbit was described 
that was said to turn white in winter, but in doing considerable work 
throughout this range the writer found no signs or other evidence of 
the presence of snowshoe rabbits and so considers the record as very 
doubtful. In the Pecos River Mountains their characteristic pellets 
and winter trails were found throughout the woods from the cold 
gulches at 8,000 feet along the upper Pecos up to the last timbered 
patches around the bases of the Pecos and Truchas Peaks. 

One specimen in the brown coat was taken in July at a 11,000-foot 
camp on Jack Creek, and a few others were seen, but their habit of 
hiding in the thickets and dense coniferous forests, where their pro- 
tectively colored brown summer coats render them inconspicuous, 
makes it difficult to collect specimens during the summer months. In 
the Taos Mountains they were common throughout the Canadian and 
into the Hudsonian Zone, but were rarely seen. In the Culebra Moun- 
tains a half-grown specimen was taken in August near the Anchor 
mine on Bitter Creek at about 10,000 feet altitude, and abundant evi- 
dence of their presence was seen throughout the range. Over the top 
of the San Juan Range between Hopewell and Tierra Amarilla, their 
unmistakable signs were seen in abundance throughout the spruce 
timber of the Canadian Zone. At Chama, J. A. Loring collected one 
on December 28, which was then pure white, although in October of 
the same year across the Colorado line near Silverton he had found 


them in the midst of the change from brown summer to the white 
winter coats. Over the top of the Gallinas Mountains in Rio Arriba 
County snowshoe-rabbit signs were abundant up to 10,000 feet, while 
a little farther south in the Jemez Mountains their characteristic 
pellets were found scattered through the deep forests of spruce and 
fir at 10,000 to 11,000 feet altitude where no other species of rabbit 
ever penetrates. 

General habits. — These mountain-forest rabbits are largely noc- 
turnal and when found during the daytime are generally startled 
from a form or resting place under some dense shrubbery or fallen 
timber. They can see perfectly well in the light, however, and are 
very shy and often difficult to approach after once being startled. 
Sometimes they are seen hopping along the edge of the timber early 
in the evening, but apparently their greatest activity is during the 
nighttime. After a light snow their tracks may be seen both in the 
timber and in brush patches, often indicating rapid flight and long 
leaps, and again marking a network of short hops among the bushes 
and small plants on which they are feeding. 

Food habits. — The contents of their stomachs always show a 
finely masticated mass of vegetation. In the summer this is apt to 
be mainly soft green plants, but during winter and early in spring 
more woody fiber is included. The large flattened pellets nearly 
a half inch in diameter are found scattered along their runways 
and feeding grounds often in great abundance. These are compact 
and woody during winter, but in summer are often green, less 
definitely formed, and less compact, showing that the principal 
diet has been herbaceous vegetation. On their winter feeding 
grounds the cleanly cut twigs and stems of blueberry, rose, willow, 
and other bushes give some clue to the food selected. The bushes 
are usually cut at the surface of the snow ; the height of the stumps 
indicates the depth of snow at the time. Those cut from the bare 
ground generally stand 4 or 5 inches high, but others cut from the 
surface of the snow often stand 2 or 3 feet from the ground. As 
the snow deepens or disappears the rabbits find a constantly changing 
level of twigs and an ever abundant food supply. Though never 
very fat, they are usually plump and often show two lines of white 
tallow along the back between the shoulder blades. 

Breeding habits. — The normal number of mammae in adult females 
seems to be two pairs of abdominal and two of pectoral. The number 
of embryos in the few examined have been from 3 to 5, and there 
are records of 4 to 6 young, born in May and June. When first born 
they are well-furred, perfect little rabbits, with wide-open eyes, 
sharp incisor teeth and a soft woodsy color that would baffle the 
keen-eyed fox or lynx. 

Economic status. — The fact that these rabbits nowhere live in 
agricultural regions has rendered them a measure of protection. 
In the coniferous forests their food consists entirely of deciduous 
shrubs or low vegetation, so that practically no harm can be 
attributed to them, either to forestry or to grazing. As a game 
animal they have considerable value, as they are among the best 
game and food rabbits of the country. To be successfully hunted 
they are often driven by dogs from one thicket or timber tract to 




another and shot as they cross the open spaces. They are extremely 
swift and afford good sport, and when properly cooked their meat 
is superior to that of most rabbits. 

White-tailed Jack Rabbit, Ka-pa-ttjna of the Taos Indians 

Lepus campestris Bachman, Jour. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. (1) 7: 349, 1837. 
Lepus townsendii campanius Hollister, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 28 : 70, March 12, 

Type locality. — Plains of Saskatchewan, Canada. 

General characters. — Readily distinguished from other hares by size of body 
and the large tail, which is pure white at all seasons ; by the buffy gray upper 
parts in summer ; and by the pure white coat in winter. The body is as heavy 
but the ears and legs are not so 
long as in the group of black- 
tailed jack rabbits. 

Measurements. — Adults (ap- 
proximately) : Total length, 
605; tail, 92; hind foot, 149; 
ear from notch, 95 millimeters. 

Weight, 7 to 8 pounds. 

Distribution and habi- 
tat. — A specimen of the 
white-tailed jack rabbit was 
collected on top of the San 
Juan Mountains west of 
Hopewell at about 10,000 
feet altitude, and a few 
others were seen in that 
vicinity in the big, open 
parks over the top of the 
mountains. (Fig. 6.) Just 
north of Taos one was seen 
near camp at the edge of 
Hondo Valley, and the 
Indians said they were 
common in the valley near 
Taos, So far as known 
these are the only records 
for the State, but the rabbits are common in the San Luis Valley a 
little farther north and in Colorado east of the mountains, so that it 
is probable that they occur also in northeastern New Mexico. 

General habits. — These large hares are preeminently prairie or 
plains animals, living always in the open, where their speed and keen 
sight and hearing protect them from most of their enemies. The 
greyhound will pull one down in a fair race and the golden eagle 
has them at a disadvantage, and sometimes forces them to take 
shelter in burrows. As one bounds out of the grass with striking 
white markings and long, high leaps its appearance is almost as 
spectacular as that of the antelope bounding over the prairie. Some- 
times they will lie close until almost stepped upon, but generally they 
are very timid and wary. They are generally free from parasites or 
diseases and are considered good game and often sold in the markets. 

Figure 6. — Distribution of jack rabbits in New 
Mexico: 1, Lepus californicus texianus ; 2, L. 
californicus melanotis ; 3, L. townsendii cam- 
panius; 4, L. gaillardi gaillardi 


In winter their fur becomes long and full and turns pure white, ex- 
cept the very tips of the ears, which are usually edged with black. 
The hairs on the feet become so long that they afford almost as good 
support on the deep snows as do the feet of snowshoe rabbits. On a 
firm snow or a slight crust they skim over the surface with great 
speed and evident enjoyment of their advantage over heavier enemies, 
while they gather their food from the tops of bushes and plants that 
stand above the surface. 

Food habits. — During the summer the food of these jack rabbits 
consists of grass and a great variety of herbaceous plants and also 
such cultivated crops as they encounter. In winter it is largely 
buds, bark, and twigs of the prairie shrubs or any woody vegetation 
above the surface of the snow. 

Breeding habits. — The white-tailed jack rabbits are less prolific 
than the jack rabbits of the low warm valleys, as they have a shorter 
season in which to reproduce their kind. The first litter of four or 
five young is generally born in May, and there may be later litters, 
as half -grown and small young are found up to the latter part of 
summer. The mammae are arranged in two pairs of abdominal 
and two pairs of pectoral, and a very copious supply of milk is 
supplied to the young. At first these are well secreted in some 
grass-covered form, slight depression, or shallow burrow, but before 
they are half grown they are out foraging for themselves and are able 
to outrun most of their enemies. 

Economic status. — These rabbits are so well appreciated as a game 
animal that there are few complaints of any mischief or loss of 
crops from them. In most cases they need a certain degree of pro- 
tection and encouragement to maintain themselves as a game and food 
animal. In rare cases, however, they become so abundant locally as 
to cause some loss to crops and even to winter haystacks. The 
greatest harm they do is to young orchards in winter when they skip 
over the top of the snow and nip off the twigs that rise above the 
crust. Under most circumstances their abundance is easily con- 
trolled and their depredations may be prevented by a little timely 


Texas Jack Rabbit, Kaec-tua-pua-na-ana of the Taos Indians 

Lepus texianus Waterhouse, Nat. Hist. Marnm. 2 : 136, 1848. 

Type locality. — Unknown, but probably western Texas. 

General characters. — This is the large, light gray jack rabbit with black upper 
surface of tail and black tips of ears. There is little difference in color between 
the summer and winter specimens, except that each coat fades to a lighter, 
clearer gray with age and the rabbit is palest just before renewing the fresh 
and somewhat darker summer and winter coats. 

Measurements. — Adults average in total length, 606; tail, 85; hind foot, 133; 
ear from base of opening to tip in dried skins, 123 millimeters. The usual 
weight of adults when freshly killed is from 6 to 7 pounds. 

Distribution and habitat. — The most abundant and widely dis- 
tributed jack rabbit of New Mexico is texianus, occupying both the 
Lower and the Upper Sonoran Zones of practically the whole State 
west of and including a part of the Pecos Valley. (Fig. 6.) Along 
the Pecos Valley it grades into the darker, brownish gray melanotis, 



while in the southwestern part of New Mexico individuals show a 
slight gradation toward eremieus of the deserts of Arizona. While 
the range of the species is mainly Sonoran, individuals are occa- 
sionally found up in the open yellow-pine forests of the Transition 
Zone where they have strayed from their regular range. On the 
south slope of the Elk Mountains the writer shot a nursing female 
in the yellow pine woods at 8,700 feet altitude, but a run of 2 or 3 
miles through open forest would have taken it down to its ordinary 
zone level. 

These rabbits are common and at times numerous in the valleys 
and on the slopes and mesas below the 7,000-foot contour over more 
than the western half of New Mexico. Though often found among 
the scattered junipers and nut pines, they are generally more common 
in the open valleys among the various shrubs known as rabbit brush. 
Their distribution area remains the same, but their local abundance 
fluctuates from various causes. In time of drought they gather in 
sections where there is more moisture and a better supply of green 
vegetation, often becoming very numerous in certain valleys that 
have received enough rainfall to produce green vegetation while the 
surrounding country is parched and dry. Thus they are often 
abundant in one valley, scarce in another, and almost absent from a 
third. At times their numbers steadily increase until beyond the 
normal proportions, and again through the attack of some disease 
they are so thinned out that not a rabbit will be seen in an all-day's 
ride over the valleys. Normally, however, they are fairly abundant 
over the whole of their range. 

General habits. — These rabbits perhaps supply the most conspicu- 
ous and characteristic animal life of the desert valleys. They are 
often most abundant where there is no possibility of getting water 
within a long distance and seem to be entirely independent of 
moisture, other than that obtained through their food plants. 
Though in part nocturnal, they also move about with perfect free- 
dom in the daytime, and are specially active during the morning 
and evening hours. During the middle of the day they are usually 
seen only when started from their forms or concealed resting places 
in the grass or low vegetation. In hot weather they make their 
forms in the shade of bushes or cactus, or sit in the shade of some 
tree or fence post to avoid the heat and glare of the direct sunlight. 
If well concealed in their forms they will often lie until almost 
stepped on, and then bound away with long leaps and run with great 
speed. Often, however, they sit crouched in the half open, where 
they can not only be plainly seen but can see any approaching enemy 
and make good their escape. In riding through some of the valleys 
one can almost constantly see them, one after another springing up 
and bounding away from the sides of the road, sometimes a dozen 
running at a time. 

In a 100-mile drive from Deming to Hachita and across into Ani- 
mas Valley during August of 1908, the writer had an unusually 
good opportunity to observe the jack rabbits on some of their favor- 
ite grounds. In places they were numerous and again for a dis- 
tance scarce. Their abundance depended largely on the distribution 
of the recent rains. They had left the dry and barren valleys and 

64909°— 32 4 


slopes that the rains had missed and gathered in great numbers in 
other sections that the heavy rains had visited. On some of the dry 
upper slopes across the range they were scarce and had evidently 
drifted into the areas of good feed. Along the east side of the 
Playas Valley, where a heavy rain had brought up an abundance 
of fresh grass and succulent vegetation, they were especially numer- 
ous, a dozen often being in sight at once along the road and many 
hopping into camp among the mesquites in the evening. 

Food habits. — The food of these Texas jack rabbits includes a 
great variety of plants, but certain species are evident favorites. 
Alfalfa seems to attract them more than almost any other kind of 
food, while of the native plants they seem to prefer succulent young 
vegetation. Much grass is eaten, but as the grass becomes old and 
dry they seem to prefer many of the herbaceous plants, and in times 
of drought they feed largely upon cactus and the bark of mesquite 
and other desert shrubs. In winter their food consists largely of 
cactus, bark, and twigs. The pads of the large pricklypear (Opun- 
tia) are first nibbled along the edges between the bunches of spines, 
but sometimes the whole pad is finally eaten, and often in times of 
scarcity the whole cactus plant is devoured, leaving only the bunches 
of thorns and the woody base. The bush cactuses (Cylindropuntia) 
are only attacked in times of great scarcity, but then are sometimes 
entirely peeled of their bark as high as the rabbits can reach, whole 
groves of them occasionally being killed in this manner. Many of 
the desert bushes, however, are so protected by thorns or other 
means that they are practically free from the attacks of rabbits. 
The leaves of some of the yuccas and agaves are occasionally found 
gnawed, but usually they are so well protected that the inner, fleshy 
parts can not be reached. For most domestic crops and fruit trees 
the jack rabbits show great fondness, and in farming areas they 
become a great pest unless kept well under control. 

Breeding habits. — The Texas jack rabbits are very prolific and 
apparently raise several litters of young during the year. There 
seems to be a definite spring litter born in April or May. By the 
first of June many of the young are half grown, and later in the 
summer small young are often found or else the females are found 
to contain embryos or to be nursing young. As late as September 
28 specimens of old females have been collected that were at the 
time nursing young, but the number of litters raised in a season is 
not definitely known and probably varies greatly with local condi- 
tions. The number of young in a litter varies from two to four, 
but in some cases it may be as high as six. The mammae are ar- 
ranged in 3 pairs, 2 pairs of abdominal and 1 pair of pectoral, and 
the two long mammary glands are practically continuous along the 
sides of the belly. 

Economic status. — In June, 1918, after two years of severe 
drought, J. S. Ligon found these rabbits unusually numerous in the 
Pecos Valley from Fort Sumner south for 160 miles into Texas. 
They apparently were more numerous there than in any other part 
of the Southwest and more numerous than he had ever known them 
there before. After careful observation he estimated an average of 
400 to the square mile over several hundred square miles of the 
valley. After a light shower where green vegetation had started 


on low ground, great numbers could be seen feeding at any time 
during the day. They were of all ages, and one rabbit two-thirds 
grown ran across the road ahead of the automobile and disappeared 
in a large burrow in a prairie-dog town. Ligon was told that during 
the previous winter many had been killed and shipped to market 
from this valley at a good profit. In moderate numbers these jack 
rabbits are of some value as game animals, although not generally 
used as food among the ranch people. Many are infested with 
" warbles," or Cuterebra, the larvae of a fly, and also with tapeworm 
larvae, which appear under the skin in watery cysts. Neither of 
these parasites seriously affects the health of the rabbits unless 
unusually numerous, but they prejudice people against using the 
rabbits as food. To the Indians, as well as many other people 
in the State, the jack rabbits are a great source of food supply and 
in this way have a practical value. To anyone fond of shooting, 
when the rabbits are not too numerous, they offer excellent sport 
either with shotgun or rifle, and their flesh, if properly cooked, is 
fairly good. The half-grown young of the year are especially good 
and usually free from parasitic infestations. 16 

On the other hand, the damage that the rabbits do in an agricul- 
tural area is often so great as to render them one of the most 
serious of animal pests. On the stock range the grass and forage 
that they consume is often of serious consequence in limiting the 
number of domestic stock that can be maintained on the area. It 
has been estimated that 11 jack rabbits will eat as much green 
forage a day as one sheep, and allowing one rabbit to 2 acres, 
which is not an unusual local abundance, the rabbits on a 1,000-acre 
ranch would consume as much grass as about 50 sheep. To be sure, 
they do not live entirely upon grass, but a large part of their forage 
is such as would be eaten by sheep or cattle, and a large number of 
them on the stock ranch prove a serious drain upon its carrying 
power. In cultivated areas their depredations are often of a serious 
nature, especially where fields of alfalfa or grain are surrounded by 
extensive desert areas, as they gather from all sides for the green 
food. At Carlsbad, Dearborn found them doing considerable damage 
to melons and melon vines in August, 1910, and reported them also 
as destructive to young orchards in winter. At Garfield E. A. Gold- 
man found them feeding in the alfalfa fields and found their 
stomachs full of the green alfalfa. At Mesilla Park in November, 
1908, in company with Fabian Garcia, the writer examined a young 
orchard of apple and pear trees that had been set out on the experi- 
ment station grounds and found many of the trees peeled or cut off 
by the jack rabbits. A considerable number of trees had been 
injured, although the tracks did not indicate that there were many 
rabbits doing the mischief. Pieces of sweet apple with a little 
strychnine in each were placed on sharp sticks 4 inches above ground 
near some of the trees where the rabbits were working, and later 
Garcia wrote that he had picked up three dead rabbits in the orchard. 

16 At times of greatest abundance of wild rabbits a destructive disease called tularemia 
carries off great numbers of them. This is also dangerous and occasionally fatal to human 
beings when acquired through careless handling of infected rabbits. The disease may be 
conveyed by contact of the rabbit blood or body juices with the hands or skin, and also 
by the bites of ticks or flies that have been in contact with diseased rabbits. Experi- 
ments have shown that the germs of tularemia are not destroyed in lightly cooked or 
rare meat, but well-cooked rabbit meat may be safely eaten. 


To make sure of protecting his trees, he had them wrapped with 
paper and they suffered no further injury during the winter. 

In most cases where the rabbits are doing damage to crops they 
can be shot or their numbers otherwise controlled so as to prevent 
serious loss. Under ordinary circumstances their natural enemies — 
coyotes, foxes, eagles, owls, and hawks — keep them down to a rea- 
sonable abundance, but it so often becomes necessary for man to take 
a hand in their suppression that effective methods have been worked 
out for their control. 

Plains Jack Rabbit 

Lepus melanotis Mearns, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 2:297, 1890. 

Type. — Collected at Independence, Montgomery County, Kans., January 27, 
1890, by E. A. Mearns. 

General characters. — Distinguished from the clear gray texiamis by its more 
brownish coloration. The upper parts are mainly of a light buffy-brown color ; 
the black tail and tips of ears are conspicuous marks ; and in size it is almost 
as large as texianus. The average length of adults is 582 ; tail, 80 ; hind foot, 
131 ; and ear from basal notch in dried specimens, 104 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Plains jack rabbit is found in the 
Great Plains country, including the northeastern part of New Mex- 
ico east of the Rocky Mountains and Pecos River Valley. (Fig. 6.) 
Specimens from Clayton and Santa Rosa were referred by Nelson 
in his monograph of the rabbits (1909, p. 148), to this subspecies, 
while those from Roswell and Carlsbad were placed with the grayer 
teorianus, but most of the specimens of the Pecos Valley are more or 
less intermediate between the two. 

General, habits. — In habits these Plains rabbits do not differ essen- 
tially from their near relative, texianus, except in adaptation to a 
different type of environment. Instead of living in the desert they 
occupy the grassy plains where for cover they have mainly grass, 
which gives a setting of more uniform green in summer and more 
of the yellow-brown tones in winter, in strong contrast to the light- 
gray tones of the desert. The darker colors of their environment are 
well paralleled by the darker tones of their own coloration. The 
Plains jack rabbits are generally less numerous than the desert jack 
rabbits, although at times they become very abundant and in places 
do considerable mischief. In this open country they are usually shyer 
than in the brushy regions. The speed with which one bounds from 
the grass and out of range makes quick work necessary for the col- 
lector with a shotgun, while with rifles they are excellent targets 
either for running or standing shots. In places where they are in 
the habit of following the same line of travel their runways are 
conspicuous through the grass and low vegetation, and in a good 
rabbit year these runways often show as well-defined crisscross lines 
over the prairie. 

Food habits. — The food of the Plains jack rabbits consists not 
only of grass but any green vegetation of an edible nature that hap- 
pens to come within their reach. They are also fond of most culti- 
vated crops, including clover, alfalfa, grains, and vegetables, and 
will travel for a considerable distance to obtain a supply of these 
favorite foods. 


Breeding habits. — Little is known of their breeding habits, but the 
young are out and often half grown early in May, and young of 
various sizes may be found throughout the summer and up to late 
autumn. Evidently several litters are raised during a season, but 
there are not sufficient data to show the average size of the litter. 
The mammae of adult females are arranged in two pairs of abdominal 
and one pair of pectoral. Three or four embryos have been noted in 
females, and it seems probable from the number of mammae that six 
is a possible maximum number of young. 

Economic status. — In normal abundance these jack rabbits are a 
good game animal and are kept within harmless bounds by hunting 
and through check by natural enemies, but when they increase to 
unusual abundance they present a problem of some economic im- 
portance. In grainfields they do considerable damage, both in cut- 
ting down and eating the growing grain and in tangling the stems 
as they run through the fields, so that some of the grain is lost in 
reaping. In gardens and vegetable fields they attack almost all the 
crops, but are especially fond of cabbage, turnips, peas, and melons. 
They are also quick to find any young fruit trees that are planted, 
and when green food is scarce they are apt to cut or eat the bark 
from young trees. At times it has been necessary to organize rabbit 
drives or hunts to dispose of the surplus numbers. 


Gauxakd's Jack Rabbit 

Lepus gaillardi Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. (1895) 18: 560-562, June 24, 1896. 

Type. — Collected at Mexican boundary line, near Monument 63, west arm of 
Playas Valley, southwestern New Mexico, June 17, 1892, by E. A. Mearns and 
F. X. Holzner. 

General characters. — Distinguished from texianus, with which it is associated, 
by the strikingly white sides and flanks and by lack of black tips to the long 
ears. It is also more buffy or fawn colored over the back, while the light-gray 
rump patch blends into the white sides. The upper surface of the tail is 

Measurements. — This rabbit is slightly smaller than texianus, average adults 
measuring in total length, 536 ; tail, 80 ; hind foot, 132 ; and ear from notch in 
dried skins, 109 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Gaillard's jack rabbit is mainly a Mexi- 
can species extending into extreme southwestern New Mexico in the 
Playas and Animas Valleys, mainly in the Upper Sonoran Zone. 
(Fig. 6.) In the southern end of the Animas and Playas Valleys the 
ranchmen in 1908 reported white-sided jack rabbits, which they called 
antelope rabbits, and said they were frequently seen though not so 
commonly as the other species. The writer did not see anj^ of them, 
although he was constantly watching for them, and several light- 
colored individuals of teotianus were shot on suspicion that they 
might be gaillardi. There can be no doubt, however, of their occur- 
rence and the correctness of the descriptions and reports of the local 
residents in that part of New Mexico. Mearns (1896, p. 560) records 
them as found on the east and west forks of the Playas Valley and 
on the east side of the San Luis Mountains, while, besides the type 
specimen that he collected, he secured a series of five from White 
Water just below the international boundary line. 

General habits. — In habits there seems to be very little difference 
between Gaillard's and the common jack rabbit of the region. 



[No. 53 

Mearns records a female taken at the type locality June 16, 1892, 
containing three small fetuses and also mentions two half -grown 
young on the same date. Very little is known of this rare and 
interesting species, and any further notes on its distribution and 
habits would be of special interest. 


New Mexico Cottontail 

Sylvilagus auduboni ncomexicanus Nelson, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 20: 83, 1907. 

Type. — Collected at Fort Sumner, N. Mex., September 23, 1902, by James 
H. Gaut. 

General characters. — This is one of the long-eared cottontails of the auduboni 
group, differing from the three other forms of the groups in the State in 

more brownish coloration of 
the upper parts. 

Measurements. — Adults aver- 
age for total length, 374; tail, 
49 ; hind foot, 87 ; ear from 
notch at base to tip in dried 
skins, 55 millimeters-. 

Distribution and habi- 
tat. — The New Mexico 
cottontail occupies the 
plains country of eastern 
New Mexico, including 
most of the Pecos Valley. 
(Fig. 7.) Specimens from 
Clayton, Emory Peak, near 
Tucumcari, Koswell, Carls- 
bad, and the eastern slope 
of the Guadalupe Moun- 
tains are referred to this 
form, but do not neces- 
sarily mark the extreme 
western limit of its range. 
It inhabits the grassy 
plains country mainly be- 
low the border of junipers 
and nut pines and also the 
mesquite and creosote valley bottoms along the Pecos and Canadian 
Kivers. It is common in both the Upper and the Lower Sonoran Zones. 
General habits. — Throughout most of their range these rabbits 
live in the open country, seeming to prefer places where they can see 
for a long distance, as they depend on flight for escape to some safe 
retreat. Their favorite haunts are the prairie-dog towns, which are 
thickly scattered over this plains region. Though they have long 
legs and make good speed for cottontails, they are no match for 
the coyotes and foxes and must depend on convenient cover for their 
protection. This is afforded by the burrows of prairie dogs, badgers, 
and even the large kangaroo rats, which inhabit their region. When 
startled the rabbits rush for the nearest cover, and if pressed for 
time dive into a burrow and disappear in a twinkling. If only 

Figure 7. — Distribution of cottontail rabbits of 
the auduboni group in New Mexico : 1, Sylvila- 
gus auduboni warreni ; 2, 8. auduboni neomex- 
icanus ; 3, &, auduboni cedrophUus ; 4, S. audu- 
boni minor. Type locality circled 


moderately frightened they bound away with all speed, but before 
disappearing below usually sit up and look around to see if there 
is any real danger. So general is their habit of depending upon 
burrows for safety that they are commonly called, by the ranchmen, 
" prairie-dog rabbits," or merely " dog rabbits." Generally they 
are very wild and difficult to approach, but occasionally an individual 
will allow one to come close before running away. By whistling 
and talking softly to one, as it sat near the entrance of an old badger 
hole, the writer was able to approach and photograph it within 
4 feet. Apparently they do not dig burrows for themselves, but 
are always able to find an abundant supply of unoccupied dens 
of other burrowing animals. Generally they are not very numerous, 
but in places over the open prairie where the short grass affords 
them little concealment they are frequently seen scampering from 
one burrow to another. Even at a distance when sitting up or 
running their long ears are conspicuous and readily distinguish 
them from the members of the floridanus group, which occurs farther 
east and in some of the mountain ranges in western New Mexico; 
but when they are on guard crouching upon the ground with ears 
laid low and colors blending into the surroundings, even in this 
short grassy country, they are inconspicuous and at times almost 

In June, 1918, in the Pecos River Valley from Fort Sumner south, 
J. S. Ligon found these cottontails about as numerous as the jack 
rabbits and in greater numbers than he had ever seen them there 
before. This was after a 2-year severe drought during which the 
rabbits had apparently suffered no inconvenience or setback in 
breeding. He found young of all ages, some not yet out of the nest. 

Food habits. — The food of the New Mexico cottontails consists of 
green grass and a great variety of herbaceous plants. They are fond 
of alfalfa, grain, and most garden vegetables. Occasionally when 
the snow is on the ground in winter they may be forced to browse 
upon twigs and bushes, but for most of the year they have ready 
access to the ground and can find enough green or cured vegetation 
to keep them well supplied. 

Economic status. — In few places has this species been found so 
abundant as to be in danger of becoming a pest, but among the 
farms and orchards of the Pecos Valley, where it is comparatively 
common, there are some complaints of its injuring crops. At Carls- 
bad in August, 1910, Dearborn found the cottontails rather abundant 
and destructive to melon vines and young fruit trees, and the writer 
found them there in previous seasons fairly common in and about 
the alfalfa fields. They afford some good hunting, however, and 
in camp during the close season on other game they often provide the 
only fresh meat supply for long periods. Over most of their range 
their value as a game animal is probably sufficient to balance any 
injury they may do to crops, but in areas where they do serious 
harm they may easily be destroyed by hunting or by other methods 
of control. They have a host of natural enemies, including coyotes, 
foxes, badgers, hawks, owls, and eagles, and so long as these are 
numerous the rabbits have little chance of becoming pests. 



Little Cottontail 
Lepus arizonae minor Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. (1895) 18: 557-558, 1896. 

Type.— Collected at El Paso, Tex., April 28, 1892, by E. A. Mearns and F. X. 

General characters. — A small, pale-gray rabbit with very long ears. 

Measurements. — Average adults: Total length, 351; tail, 52; hind foot, 80; 
ear from notch in dried skin, 59 millimeters. 

Distribution, and habitat. — The little gray desert cottontails (pi. 4, 
A) are found mainly within the Lower Sonoran Zone of the Rio 
Grande and Tularosa Valleys and over the Deming Plain of south- 
western New Mexico and southward. (Fig. 7.) In many places 
they extend into the Upper Sonoran Zone around the edge of the 
mountains, but in their typical form do not range far beyond the 
Lower Sonoran. They are a valley species and prefer the open 
country where there is sufficient cover and protection. 

General habits. — Like all this group, the little cottontails are par- 
tial to burrows in the ground or to safe retreats among rocks or 
under ledges, where they can quickly escape from their enemies. 
Dense cover of weeds, brush, or cactus is accepted, but in most of the 
open desert country where they live the safest and most convenient 
retreats are apt to be badger holes or broken rocks at the base of some 
cliff. Prairie-dog burrows, when available, are often used by them, 
but over much of their range prairie dogs doi not occur. The abun- 
dance of the species generally depends on the kind of cover that is 
available. In open situations where there are no badger holes or 
other burrows the rabbits are almost entirely absent, while in a 
section of valley infested with ground squirrels that have attracted 
badgers or in a half-abandoned prairie-dog town they may be 
swarming. At Deming, E. A. Goldman reported them as common 
on the surrounding plain, and often entering the small gardens and 
barnyards in the immediate vicinity of town, while on the east 
slope of the Big Hatchet Mountains he reported them as especially 
abundant on the stony lower slopes of the mountains up to 4,800 feet, 
beyond which they were less numerous, none being found much 
higher. At Redrock he reported them common in thickets and about 
fields along the river and in the brush along mesas bordering the 
valley. On a wagon trip from Deming to Hachita and through the 
Playas and Animas Valleys in August, 1908, the writer found them 
common over most of the valley country. Many were found in the 
open, where they ran to prairie-dog or badger holes, but others were 
seen in the brushy parts of the valleys, where they took refuge in the 
weed patches or among the bunches of mesquite and other low 
bushes. Goldman found them abundant in the Rio Grande Valley at 
Garfield and farther north along the river, while Gaut collected 
specimens and reported them as numerous on both sides of the great 
Tularosa Valley. 

Food habits. — These rabbits subsist upon green grass and a great 
variety of other vegetation, including in winter the bark and twigs 
of various shrubs and the juicy flesh of cactus, which they pick out 
from between the spines of the pricklypear and some other species. 
They are fond of most cultivated crops and sometimes injure young 
orchards by gnawing the bark from the trees or cutting off the twigs 


of newly planted grafts. At Mesilla Park in November, 1908, in 
one orchard containing 5 or 6 acres of choice young apple trees, they 
had injured nearly half and -actually killed a few of the trees. The 
rabbits were rather numerous at the time and were doing some dam- 
age to vegetables and other crops. They were not being hunted to 
any extent, however, and little attention was paid to the damage 
they were doing. 

Cedar-Belt Cottontail 
SyWilagns auduooni cedrophilus Nelson, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 20: 83, 1907. 

Type. — Collected at Cactus Flat, 20 miles north of Cliff, N. Mex., November 
6, 1906, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — Slightly larger than minor, darker gray and more buffy 
or ochraceous over the upper parts. 

Measurements. — Average of adults: Total length, 375; tail, 46; hind foot, 89; 
and ear from notch in dried skin, 60 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The cedar-belt cottontails are charac- 
teristic of the cedar and pinyon foothills and elevated mesas in the 
Upper Sonoran Zone over central and west-central New Mexico. 
(Fig. 7.) Their range is not sharply defined, as on the east they 
grade into neomexicanus, on the south into the Lower Sonoran 
minor, and on the north into warreni, all of which are closely related 
subspecies, evidently the product of slightly different environments. 
With the present form the environment is somewhat peculiar in 
being usually an open orchardlike growth of low spreading junipers 
and nut pines interspersed with clumps and thickets of brush and 
bunches of cactus. Much of the country is rough, with sharp 
gulches, cut banks, and small, rocky canyons that afford consider- 
able cover and protection and more shade than is found on the 
grassy plains or in the open Lower Sonoran valleys. 

General habits. — The abundance of these rabbits depends much on 
the character of the country. In areas of rocky ledges, broken talus 
below cliffs, and especially lava fields, where they find safe shelter 
and protection from their enemies, they are usually numerous, while 
in more exposed localities they are generally scarce. A few may be 
found anywhere, however, among the junipers and nut pines in open 
parks, where the burrows of the prairie dog afford shelter and 
protection. In most localities there are some badger holes that 
the rabbits can use as safe retreats. Food is generally plentiful 
throughout their range, and the determining factor of their abun- 
dance is usually protection from the numerous enemies that they 
must avoid. Bobcats, coyotes, and gray foxes abound in this region, 
and together with the hawks by day and the owls by night they 
make life anxious for the rabbits. It is only by keeping close to 
their rocky or underground retreats that they are able to maintain 
an existence, and the speed with which they disappear attests con- 
stant practice. Locally they adapt themselves to various cover. On 
Cactus Flat, where the type was collected, they were common and 
took refuge under clusters of cane cactus and tall yuccas, while on 
the Rio Alamosa, E. A. Goldman found them rather common in 
thickets of Apache plume (Fallugia parodoxa) and of shadscale 
(Atriplex canescens) . At Isleta Ned Hollister found them common 


on weedy ground between the mesa and the river bottom, but when- 
ever frightened they immediately ran for the rocks along the base 
of the neighboring cliff. He found them in similar situations along 
the Rio Puerco and other valleys; and he also collected specimens 
in the Datil Mountains in the edge of yellow-pine timber, where, 
with many other Upper Sonoran species, they extended up these 
narrow, dry ranges beyond their usual zone. At Agua Fria Spring, 
in the southern edge of the Zuni Mountains, Hollister reported them 
as numerous along the borders of the lava fields and said that when 
frightened they at once sought refuge in the many crevices and 
holes of the lava beds. At San Rafael near the eastern base of the 
Zuni Mountains the writer also found them numerous in the ex- 
tremely rough and broken lava flow, for here the many caves and 
cracks afforded absolute protection from any animals larger than 
themselves. In a small valley in western Socorro County, J. S. 
Ligon estimated their numbers at 1 to every 2 acres. 

Food habits — The food of the cedar belt cottontails consists of an 
endless variety of green vegetation, most of which they are able to 
find close to their safe retreats. In the little pockets and depressions 
among the lava rocks, avoided by other grazing animals, the rabbits 
hold almost complete possession. Some of these little patches are 
grazed close by the rabbits and the scattered stems of plants from 
which they have eaten the leaves are strewn over the ground among 
their numerous characteristic pellets. Most of their excursions are 
from the rocks or their dens in search of favorite food plants. Many 
of the little shrubs and bushes where they have been browsing are 
found with branches and stems cut off as smoothly as by a knife. 
These cut bushes are especially noticeable where the rabbits have 
spent the winter and depended on the shrubby growths while the 
snow covered the lower vegetation. At Lake Valley, Goldman found 
where they had stripped the bark from stems of bushes of Acacia 
and Rhus, but this was probably done in winter or during a dry 

Breeding habits. — The mammae in this species are arranged in 
three pairs of abdominal and one pair of pectoral, but the number of 
embryos in two individuals were only two each. Both of these 
records of two large embryos were at Albuquerque on July 23, 1889. 
Another specimen taken at Santa Rosa on May 24 was nursing young, 
but at the same place and time many half-grown young were seen. 
At Wingate, Hollister reported in the latter half of June many tiny 
young, as well as all sizes up to nearly full grown. As it is always 
possible to find plenty of young of all sizes throughout the summer 
and to at least the first of October, the rabbits must produce several 
litters during a season, but there are too few data to show the actual 
number of litters or even the average number of young in a litter. 

Economic status. — To summer campers within the range of these 
cottontails they are the most important game animals, as it is almost 
always possible to obtain a supply of fresh meat by shooting the 
young of the year along the roadsides. They are generally free 
from diseases and are excellent eating. The young, properly fried 
or broiled with a little bacon over the coals of a hot camp fire, afford 
a meal that is usually welcome to hungry campers. The writer has 
often decided that they are fully equal to quail or fried chicken, 


but he may have been somewhat prejudiced in their favor at the 
time by a keen appetite. Even the old ones are good eating, espe- 
cially if stewed with a little bacon or fat pork, but require more 
thorough cooking than do the young of the year. 

Now that tularemia has become known as an occasional disease 
of rabbits to which human beings are also susceptible, care should 
be taken not to get the rabbit blood on one's hands and to cook the 
meat thoroughly. 

Throughout most of their range there is little opportunitj' for 
injury to crops, as they occupy a region where agriculture is mainly 
confined to occasional garden patches. These can generally be pro- 
tected by fencing or shooting. The natural enemies of the rabbits 
commonly hold them in sufficient check in open areas where crops 
can be grown. At Santa Rosa one half grown was found in the 
stomach of a large rattlesnake, and near Cuervo their bones were 
numerous under the nest of a pair of golden eagles on the cliff. At 
Conchas Creek the den of a coyote was discovered near camp by 
watching the old coyote carrying a cottontail to its young among the 
rocks. Pieces of cottontail skin were strewn over the ground around 
the mouth of this den, and evidently the family of coyotes was 
finding the rabbits an important food supply. 

Colorado Cottontail; Gu of the Navajo Indians 

Bylvilagus au&ubonl warreni Nelson, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 20 : 83, 1907. 

Type.— Collected at Coventry, Colo., January 4, 1907, by C. H. Smith. 

General characters. — A large, buffy-gray form of the auduboui group extend- 
ing from Colorado into the northwestern corner of New Mexico. 

Measurements. — Average adult specimens : Total length, 384 ; tail, 50 ; hind 
foot, 97 ; ear from notch in dried skin, 66 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Specimens of the Colorado cottontail 
have been examined from several localities along the Rio Grande 
Valley north of Santa Fe, and westward over the San Juan Valley 
and south to near Juan Tafoya at the eastern base of Mount Taylor. 
(Fig. 7.) A large part of this area is open and very arid valley 
country, with scattered sagebrush and rabbit brush as the principal 
cover for such species. Their range is practically restricted to the 
Upper Sonoran Zone and a very distinct species, 8. nuttalli pin£tus, 
takes their place in the mountains of this region. 

General habits. — These long-eared cottontails are common both in 
the open sagebrush- and rabbit-brush-covered valleys and on the 
nut-pine and juniper slopes around the base of the mountains. 
Along the densely brushed and timbered bottom lands of the San 
Juan River they are also common, but less conspicuous than out 
in the arid sagebrush valleys. At Fruitland they were abundant 
in the groves of cottonwood, buffaloberry, and bear brush in the 
weedy bottoms, where they made trails through the thickets and 
dodged so quickly out of sight that they were not easily collected. 
Out on the mesas they would run quickly to prairie-dog or badger 
holes or hide among the rocks along the low cliffs. They were 
most abundant, however, along the base of the cliffs in the great, 
dry washes that come down along the sides of the San Juan Valley. 



[No. 53 

In general habits they most nearly resemble their close relative and 
neighboring from cedropMlus, but are more commonly a valley spe- 
cies and more fully adapted to the open country at long distance 
from the scattered forests of juniper and nut pine. In actual habits 
there is apparently no difference except such as may be directly 
produced by the slight change of environment. 

Economic status. — As food and game these rabbits are especially 
important to the Indians occupying their region, as well as to the 
white settlers and campers. Along the San Juan and Rio Grande 
Valleys they are common in a well-settled and productive agricul- 
tural region, and here, while of considerable value as game, they are 
often somewhat injurious in fields, gardens, and orchards. In 
most cases the farms are rather small, and under ordinary circum- 
stances the rabbits can be 
kept in check by hunting 
or fencing, so that their 
depredations are of little 
consequence. As these 
methods are comparatively 
simple and inexpensive, no 
serious loss need be sus- 

PINETIS (Aixen) 

Rocky Mountain Cottontail; 
Pb we na of the Taos 

Lepus sylvaticus pinetis Allen, 
Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 
6:348-349, 1894. 

Type. — Collected in the White 
Mountains, Ariz., August 14, 
1894, by B. C. Condit. 

General characters. — T h e s e 
are rather large, heavy cotton- 
tails, with relatively short ears 
and with skull characters that 
separate them as a group from 
the forms of auduboni. The small audital bullae and slender rostrum of the 
skull are good cranial characters. 

Measurements. — Adult specimens average in total length, 3S6; tail, 59; hind 
foot, 94 ; ear from notch in dried skin, 61 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Common in the Transition Zone in 
mountains of Arizona, Colorado, and northern New Mexico, with an 
extreme vertical range from 7,500 to 10,000 feet, the Rocky Moun- 
tain cottontails are common also in the Transition Zone of the Zuni, 
Chuska, Jemez, San Juan, Sangre de Cristo, and Raton Ranges in 
New Mexico. (Fig. 8.) They occupy the yellow-pine belt, but 
stray into the edge of the junipers below and in places follow favor- 
able slopes somewhat above the limits of the yellow pine. Like anj 7 
species that completely fills a zone, they are occasionally found in- 
truding into the borders of adjoining zones. They generally occupy 
the thickets and brush patches, log jams, and slab piles of the open 

Figure 8. — Distribution of three cottontail rabbits 
in New Mexico : 1. Sylvilagus nuttalli pinetis; 
2, 8. cognatus; 3, 8. floridanus holzneri. Type 
locality circled 



timber, and often take refuge in hollow logs or under fallen trees and 
sometimes in old burrows and among broken rocks. 

General habits. — The Rocky Mountain cottontails are usually not 
very abundant and in the thickets and brush specimens are not so 
easily obtained as are the more conspicuous species in the open coun- 
try below. In the Jemez Mountains one half -grown individual was 
collected at 10,000 feet altitude in the lower edge of the Canadian 
Zone, and their trails and droppings were found scattered through 
much of the forest of the range. On top of the Chuska Mountain 
Plateau they were fairly common in the beautiful yellow-pine forest 
from 7,500 to 9,000 feet, where they lived mainly in the groves of 
aspens and Gambel's oak. In places they were found among the 
rocks, and two were shot on the face of a cliff where they were 
dodging back and forth from one crevice to another, but generally 
they hid in the brush and when followed ran from one thicket to 
another. In places where they are in the habit of running, they make 
fairly distinct trails, and their characteristic pellets are scattered 
in the thickets. In the Pecos River Mountains a few were seen 
from 8,000 to 10,000 feet, but they were not very common and the 
thick timber and brush hindered the obtaining of specimens. On 
the east slope of the Taos Mountains one was taken at 8,900 feet at 
the extreme upper edge of the Transition Zone in Moreno Valley and 
others lower down though still within the yellow-pine belt. On the 
west slope of these mountains specimens were taken at 7,700 feet 
and others seen as high as 10,000 feet, and on the west slope of the 
Culebras one was shot at 9,400 feet near the upper edge of its zone. 
In the San Juan Mountains they were common in the Transition Zone 
along both sides of the range, and specimens were taken on both 
slopes, while on the Gallinas Mountains of Rio Arriba County they 
were common throughout their zone in the abundant thickets of 
scrub oak and even up into the aspen thickets, where one was taken at 
9,500 feet. In the region of Tres Piedras, both Loring and Gaut 
reported them numerous, the abundance of great bowlders and the 
oak thickets offering them unusual protection. In the Raton Range 
A. H. Howell found them rather scarce, but obtained a specimen in 
Oak Canyon and picked up an old skull in Bear Canyon. On the 
way from Catskill to Costillo Pass he collected five specimens in the 
timber along the mountain sides from 7,000 feet up to the summit of 
the pass at 10,500 feet, where one was trapped at the mouth of a 
burrow. At Catskill he found them living in and about the deserted 

In the Mogollon Mountains a cottontail evidently of this group is 
common in the timber from 9,000 to 10,000 feet altitude, but neither 
Goldman nor the writer were able to obtain any specimens, as they 
kept out of sight in the extensive thickets. Even on a good tracking 
snow they would run ahead from one thicket to another, dodging 
and hiding so skillfully that no specimens were procured. It seems 
probable that the form inhabiting the mountains is typical pinetis, 
which is known to have the same range and habits in the White 
Mountains of Arizona, but until specimens are collected one can not 
be sure that they are not cognatus or holzneri, which are similar in 


Food habits. — The food of these cottontails evidently includes as 
great a variety of plants and green vegetation as that of any other 
species, but most of the plants are different from those on which 
the rabbits of the valley subsist, and there seems to be no record of 
the actual species eaten. Many of the shrubs and twigs of small 
bushes are cut along their trails and on their feeding grounds, indi- 
cating the nature of at least a part of their winter food, but even the 
species of shrubs have not been noted with sufficient care to indicate 
which kind the rabbits prefer. 

Breeding habits. — Like others of the group, these rabbits have the 
mammae arranged in four pairs, three pairs of abdominal and one 
pair of pectoral, but there seems to be only one record of embryos 
examined to indicate the number of young to a litter. This record 
of three embryos noted by A. K. Fisher August 14, 1894, at Estes 
Park, Colo., is about all that is known definitely of the breeding 
habits of the species, and this probably is not the full normal number 
of young in a litter. 

Economic status. — Throughout the range of these cottontails in 
New Mexico the writer has found them almost invariably healthy 
and in good condition for food. In the Chuska Mountain, in Octo- 
ber, 1908, the rabbits were plump with little strips of fat con- 
spicuous along the back and flanks, and furnished an important and 
greatly enjoyed addition to the camp fare. They seemed to be above 
the zone of the ordinary rabbit parasites and were as sound and 
healthy as the snowshoe rabbits and, except during the breeding 
season, were in excellent condition for food. In the forest area that 
they inhabit they rarely conflict with any agricultural interests, and 
though there are places where they might do slight damage to gar- 
dens and a few hardy fruit trees, these are so rare that the species 
should be considered as an important game asset and worthy of 


Manzano Mountain Cottontail 
Sylvilagus cognatus Nelson, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 20 : 82, 1907. 

Type. — Collected near summit of the Manzano Mountains, N. Mex., at 10,000 
feet altitude, February, 1895, by A. Rea. 

General characters. — A robust mountain form, probably of the floridanus 
group of eastern cottontails, distinguished by large size. Compared with the 
slender, long-eared valley species of the surrounding country it is large and 
heavily built. In color it is a light buffy gray, with a clear gray rump patch. 

Measurements. — Adult specimens average in total length, 451; tail, 65; hind 
foot, 102 ; and ear from notch in dried skin, 67 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Manzano Mountain cottontail rab- 
bits are known from four isolated mountain ranges in central New 
Mexico, where they occupy the full width of the Transition Zone from 
7,300 feet altitude on the Mesa de la Yegua to 10,000 feet near the 
summit of the Manzano Mountains. (Fig. 8.) Specimens have also 
been referred to this species from the Capitan and Datil Mountains, 
but the limits of the range are not well known, and it probably 
occupies many of the scattered intervening mountain masses and 
covers much more of the country than is now indicated. 

General habits. — The writer first encountered this species in June, 
1903, on top of the Mesa de la Yegua, 40 miles southeast of Las Vegas, 


where one was taken and others seen in the scrub-oak thickets among 
the yellow pines at 7,300 feet altitude. Here at the lower edge of its 
range it seemed to be entirely confined to the Transition-zone summit 
of the plateau, and the difference between it and neomexicanus, which 
the writer had been collecting in the valley below, was so striking 
that he recognized it when the first one bounded away. The heavy 
body and short ears showed at once that he had encountered a very 
distinct species. In habits it was a brush rabbit, jumping out from 
one scrub-oak thicket and running to another with heavy, thumping 
gait. In 1903 Gaut reported cottontail rabbits in the Manzano Moun- 
tains ranging practically to the summit at 10,200 feet, but they were 
very scarce, and he was unable to obtain a specimen. In 1905 in 
these same mountains at 10,000 feet altitude, A. Ilea collected a speci- 
men that later became the type of the species. Apparently no report 
was made of them by Gaut in the Capitan Mountains, where he 
collected a specimen. In the Datil Mountains Hollister collected one 
and reported a few seen in the yellow-pine timber of both the Datil 
and the Gallinas Mountains. 

Holzner's Cottontail 

Lepus sylvaticus holzneri Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. (1895) 18: 554, 1896. 
[Lepus sylvaticus] subspecies rigidus Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. (1895) 18: 
555, 1896. Type from Carrizalillo Mountains, N. Mex. 

Type. — Collected near summit of Huachuca Mountains, Ariz., August 29, 
1893, by Frank X. Holzner. 

General characters. — A light buffy gray rabbit of the floridanus group, with 
clear gray rump, conspicuously larger and more robust than the long-eared 
species of the valley and readily distinguished from it. From cognatus of the 
mountain ranges farther north it differs in slightly smaller size and relatively 
larger audital bullae, but resembles it in the gray rump patch and the long 
fur, especially noticeable on feet and tail. 

Measurements. — Average of adult specimens: Total length, 425; tail, 71; hind 
foot, 98 ; and ear from notch in dried skin, 62 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — From its wider range in Mexico and 
southern Arizona Holzner's cottontail comes into New Mexico only 
in the mountains of the extreme southwest corner, where it has been 
taken in the Carrizalillo, Animas, San Luis, and Burro Mountains, 
and in the Pinos Altos Kange back of Silver City (fig. 8). It be- 
longs mainly to the Transition Zone with an extreme vertical range 
from 6,000 to 10,000 feet, a few scattering specimens occurring in the 
edges of both the Canadian and the Upper Sonoran Zones. Mearns 
also reported it from the Hatchet, Dog, Mule, and San Jose Moun- 
tains, near the Mexican boundary line, where he called it the wood 
rabbit to distinguish it from minor of the open valleys. He first 
met with it in the Carrizalillo Mountains in what he calls the red- 
juniper zone; and in the Animas Mountains E. A. Goldman and 
Clarence Birdseye reported it as ranging from 5,800 feet to the sum- 
mit of Animas Peak in both the Upper Sonoran and the Transition 
Zones. They saw only two individuals but found plenty of signs of 
them under the dense chaparral among the oaks and pines. In the 
San Luis Mountains Goldman shot a nursing female on August 10, 
1908, at 5,600 feet altitude among the Emory and Arizona oaks and 
saw signs of a few more to the top of the mountain. In September, 


1911, B. V. Lilly, while hunting bears in the Animas Mountains, 
found where one of these rabbits lived on the extreme summit of the 
range and had a well-marked trail under some pines and bushes. 
He also saw them on the top of the San Luis Mountains south of the 
international boundary line. Of the actual habits of these rabbits 
very little is known, except that they live under the dense chaparral 
of the desert ranges in that region and often make well-defined 
trails through the thickets or from one patch of brush to another. 
It is an easy matter to find their trails and signs, but the rabbits are 
difficult to get sight of under their dense cover. 

Family OCHOTONIDAE: Rock Conies 
Rock Cony; Pika; Little Chief Hare; Tsa'-ka-na of the Taos Indians 
Ochotona saxatilis vnmna Howell, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 32 : 107, 1919. 

Type—Collected on Pecos Baldy, 12,000 feet, N. Mex., August 10, 1903, by 
Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — These little round-eared, tailless rodents are easily 
recognized by their guinea-pig-like form and squeaky voices. Their fluffy 
rabbitlike fur is of a brownish-gray color blending well with the rocks. Their 
legs are short, and the soles of the feet are covered with dense fur except on 
the naked toe pads. 

Measurements. — Adult male: Total length from tip of nose to tip of where 
the tail should be, 180 ; hind foot, 30 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat . — Rock conies (pi. 4, B) are common 
on all the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Range that reach to or above 
timber line. (Fig. 9.) They are found as low as 11,000 feet on 
some cold northeast slopes, but are more common from 12,000 feet 
to the summits of most of the peaks. In the Pecos River Mountains 
they were abundant in rock slides of the Hudsonian Zone over Pecos 
Baicly and the Truchas peaks from 11,000 feet to the very summits 
at 12*600 and 13,300 feet. In the Taos Mountains they were common 
from the camp at 11,400 feet to near the top of Wheeler Peak at 
13,600 feet, and in the Culebra Mountains from timber line to the 
tops of the highest peaks. Their range is mainly in the Hudsonian 
Zone, but they also enter the Arctic Alpine and to some extent may 
be resident there. Where rock slides extend down the steep slopes 
of mountain sides well into the timber of the Canadian Zone the 
conies often follow down to the lower limits of slide rock, as do 
also many of the Hudsonian Zone plants among the cold shadows 
of the rocks. The cold air currents and icy streams under these 
open masses of broken rocks apparently carry the conditions of the 
higher zones below their usual limits. 

General habits. — In habits the rock conies are timid, rabbitlike 
little creatures, but full of curiosity and with a confidence not difficult 
to win. They are quick and energetic workers and in the latter part 
of the short summer are so busy gathering their winter stores of 
food that they are much in evidence during the day and at times 
apparently work nights as well. In the Taos Mountains at camp 
near the head of Lake Fork at 11,400 feet they occupied the rock 
slide close around the tent, and finding that no attempts were made 

North American Fauna No. 53, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey 

Plate 4 

B3740 B403IM 

A, Little cottontail (Sylvilagus auduboni minor) near a prairie-dog burrow at Carlsbad in the Pecos 
Valley; B, rock cony (Ochotona saxatilis incana) from Irwin, Colo. (Photos by E. R. Warren) 




to injure them, they became comparatively tame. Up to August 8 
they seemed not to take life very seriously, scampering over the 
rocks and picking out the various plants they liked best for food, 
but after a few freezing nights they began their haymaking and 
worked with frantic energy. Most of the day they were rushing 
back and forth gathering plants and storing them in sheltered nooks 
under the rocks, and even at night their little " yamp " note, like 
the bleating of a tiny lamb, was often heard not far from the tent. 
Whether they were actually at work at night is uncertain, but 
evidently they were awake and calling to one another. 

In the Pecos River Mountains the writer had a good opportunity 
to study their habits at close quarters, as they lived in a rock slide at 
the east base of Pecos Baldy near his camp at 11,600 feet. A few adults 
and at least one family of 
nearly full-grown young 
occupied this rock slide 
and from August 7 to 17 
were busily engaged in 
their haymaking. The old 
ones were full of energy, 
while the young occasion- 
ally helped with the work 
but spent most of their 
time ruuuing aimlessly 
over the rocks, playing and 
calling back and forth. 
They soon became accus- 
tomed to seeing the writer 
about and seemed to realize 
that he was not collecting 
specimens in that particu- 
lar rock slide. During a 
pleasant Sunday morning 
he spent among them with 
a camera they became quite 
indifferent to his presence 
and gave him the oppor- 
tunity desired for close study. A frosty night had stimulated them 
to activity, and one old fellow that had been watched for an hour 
was too busy to take notice. At 8 a. m. it was found hard at work 
gathering and stacking hay. It stopped for a few loud squeaks as 
it sat on the top of a gray-granite bowlder and then scampered 
over the rocks to the nearest weed patch. While it was busy 
gathering plants the writer crept closer to its rock pile, and as 
the cony came back with a big bunch of leaves of shrubby 
cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa) in its mouth and deposited them 
under a bowlder he located one of its haystacks, and while it went 
for another load he took his stand at a convenient distance for a 
photograph. In a minute the cony was back with a bunch of grass 
and a veratrum leaf in its mouth, making a bundle as big as its 
body and hiding it, but seeming not to interfere in the least with 
its rapid noiseless movements over the stones. It did not hesitate 
64909°— 32 5 

Figure 9. — Distribution of rock conies in New 
Mexico : 1, Ochotona saxatilis ; 2, O. nigrescens. 
Type locality circled 


or stumble on its way to the cache, and after the green leaves were 
deposited under the rocks it bobbed up to the top of a rock, took 
a good look at the writer, settled itself comfortably for about five 
seconds, then jumped down and went bobbing over the rocks to 
another weed patch for more hay. This it kept up for an hour, 
bringing a load every one or two minutes, almost always of different 
material and depositing it now on one stack and now on another 
as happened to be nearest. Five of its haystacks were found in 
different parts of the rock slide. It came most frequently to the 
stack where the writer was situated and often ran past within 5 or 6 
feet of him. Once it came within 2 feet and took a good look, 
but soon dodged back into the rocks. Occasionally it would squeak 
at the writer, but always seemed reassured when he talked softly 
to it. Below the surface the slide rock seemed to be open to it, 
and it would go down on one side and come up on the other, and 
the writer would hear little squeaks from the rocks directly under 
him, first on one side and then on the other. Apparently the cony 
ran as freely and rapidly through the caverns between the rocks 
as over the surface and just as noiselessly. From the furry soles of 
its feet there came no sound as it scampered over the rocks, and it 
never slipped or made a misstep even when it could not see over or 
around the bundle of green things in its mouth. Unlike the chip- 
munk, it did not use the front paws as hands, although once it was 
seen to put its forefeet on a Carex stem to hold it on the rock while 
it nibbled off the head. Usually its lips and teeth took the place 
of hands. Once the writer saw it reach out over the top of a stone, 
nip off a grass stem, and with its lips slowly draw stem and head 
into its mouth as it ate. At another time he watched it bite off 
the leaf of a Polygonum and chew rapidly at one end of it until 
the whole leaf had slowly disappeared into its mouth. 

Its motions were so quick that the writer had much trouble in 
getting photographs, and he failed entirely in obtaining what he 
most wanted — a picture of the cony with a large bunch of plants in 
its mouth. It would run so fast and so irregularly over the rock 
that it could not be sighted in the finder. At last, by setting the 
camera in its runway and awaiting its return, the writer tried 
to get it as it came over a certain rock, but when it came to the 
rock it dodged down under it, and then before the writer could get 
the focus shortened, unable to see over its bouquet, it bumped into 
his foot. With a frightened squeak it dropped its load of cinquef oil 
and geranium leaves on his boot and dodged into the nearest crack 
in the rocks. For several minutes its excited complaints came up 
from deep down under the broken rocks, and when it did reappear 
it scolded from the top of a rock for some time before resuming 
its work. Evidently its success in running over the rocks without 
being able to see was due to its perfect familiarity with every stone 
and surface in the slide, and when it bumped into something it had 
never found there before it had cause for serious alarm. 

After wasting many negatives, the writer turned his attention to 
the composition of the various haystacks, and, taking one of the best, 
opened it and examined it throughout. It was placed in the shelter 
of an overhanging point of rock and was composed of about a bushel 
of thoroughly dried, half-dried, and freshly cut plants, the last 
always on top. There were pieces of almost every plant growing 


around the edges of the rock slide or within easy reach. The stems 
and leaves were of the brightest gray green, like well-cured hay, and 
the stack was bright with flowers of purple Pentstemon, yellow Sene- 
cio and Potentilla, and blue Erigeron. There were several species 
of Carex and considerable grass, of which nine different species were 
distinguished, including timothy, redtop, awn grass, wild rye, and 
wild foxtail; and also thistles, asters, columbine, yarrow, Erigeron, 
Helenium, Pentstemon, Veratrum, Potentilla, Geranium, Poly- 
gonum, Heracleum, and Aralia. At another stack 400 feet higher 
up on the slope there were mainly wild clover, wild timothy, and 
other grass and sedges, with a few leaves of Caltha, Saxifraga, Geum, 
Silene, and a dwarf umbellifer. 

Under most of these little haystacks were found the remains of 
stacks of previous years, woody stems not suitable for food that were 
left when the green foliage was eaten. 

There is ample evidence that the conies do not hibernate, as they 
do not become very fat and are active until the deep snows bury 
their rock slides. In this particular slide at the steep east base of 
Pecos Baldy, the snow of the previous winter had not all disappeared 
by the middle of August, and the great drifts and avalanches must 
pile up to hundreds of feet in depth during the winter. Under this 
deep cover in the roomy chambers among the broken rocks the little 
animals are well protected from cold and enemies, and with abun- 
dance of winter food, which they have provided in safe and accessible 
places, the long cold winter has no terrors for them. The weasel or 
marten may occasionally get into their dens and cause terror and 
destruction, but the fact that the hay is usually all eaten when the 
snow disappears in spring or early summer would indicate a safe 
and prosperous winter. 

Breeding habits. — Very little is known of the breeding habits of 
the rock conies except that by the 1st of August the young are com- 
monly about half grown and that they have hardly reached maturity 
when the winter snows shut them in. There are probably three to 
six young to a litter, as the mammae of the breeding females are 
arranged in three pairs. In other species of the genus the writer 
has found three to five embryos, but when and where the young are 
born is as little known as the rest of the habits of these cave dwellers. 

Economic status. — Too small for game and in a world too high 
for human industries, the conies are among the few animals of no 
economic importance. On the other hand, few of our wild animals 
have greater possibilities of delightful interest to those who care to 
penetrate to their mountain tops and study them at first hand. The 
opportunity for photographing them at work and play stands open 
to anyone with time and patience, while the chance of burrowing into 
their drifts and living with them long enough to learn something of 
their habits is one of the tempting phases of winter mountain work 
for those who are seeking new fields of interest and discovery. 

Dusky Rock Cony 
Ochotona nigrescens Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 26 : 133, 1913. 

Type. — Collected in Jemez Mountains, N. Mex., at 10,000 feet altitude on Goat 
Peak at the head of Santa Clara Creek, August 28, 1900, by Vernon Bailey. 


General characters. — About the size of OcJwtona saxatilis, but much darker 
colored, with rich brown fur heavily tipped with black over head and back ; 
throat and belly rich brown ; outside of ears black ; inside blackish toward tips. 

Measurements. — Type : Total length, 200 ; hind foot, 30 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The little dusky rock cony, or as often 
called rock rabbit, is common on the three main peaks of the Jemez 
Mountains — Santa Clara Peak on the north of Santa Clara Creek, 
Goat Peak on the south, and Pelado Peak still farther south. 
(Fig. 9.) Pelado Peak is about on a line with Pecos Baldy, the pre- 
viously southernmost record of the genus in North America, but the 
Jemez Mountains are widely separated by the Rio Grande and 
Chama Valleys from any other mountain masses. The conies w T ere 
found in rock slides of broken lava from 9,000 feet to the tops of 
the highest peaks mainly within the Canadian Zone. Their dark- 
gray color blends perfectly with the dark-gray lava slides in which 
they live, rendering them almost invisible to the naked eye as they 
sit on the rocks. 

The writer succeeded in collecting only three specimens, but saw 
and heard many more. Those collected in the latter part of August 
were all adults, and no young of the year were found. Up to 
September 10 they had not begun to show much energy in making 
hay. There were abundant traces of the previous year's haystacks 
under sheltering rocks, but only in one place did the writer find a 
fresh heap of grass and red elder leaves. In voice and habits there 
seems to be no difference between this and the other various forms 
of the group, but long isolation in these high mountains under strik- 
ingly different environment has produced a well-marked local form, 
showing not only adaptation of color to environment but well- 
marked cranial characters by which it is easily distinguished from 
its nearest neighbor across the valley. 

Order RODENTIA : Gnawing Animals 

Family SCIURIDAE: Squirrels, Chipmunks, Prairie Dogs, and Woodchucks 


Abebt's Squirkel ; Tassel-eabed Squieeel 

Sciwrus aberti Woodhouse, Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. Proc. 6 : 220, 1852. 
Sciurus castanotus Baird, Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. Proc. 7 : 332, 1855. Type from 
Coppermines, N. Mex. 

Type. — Collected on San Francisco Mountain, Ariz., October, 1851, by S. W. 

General characters. — A large squirrel with bushy tail and long ears that in 
winter bear tassels an inch or more in length. In color it is dark gray above 
and white below with a large brown patch on the back. In winter fur, with 
the bright brown back, long black ear tassels, gray sides, plumelike tail, and 
pure white lower parts inclosed by black side lines, it is certainly one of the 
handsomest of North American squirrels. Even in summer, with the brown 
back, long ears, and striking gray and white markings, these squirrels are 
wonderfully attractive animals. An interesting example of partial melanism is 
seen among them in the Mogollon Mountains, where the writer collected three 
specimens, and heard of others, with fully black lower parts, the tail and upper 
parts hemaining normal in color. This produces an animal of striking appear- 
ance, even handsomer than the others, and very similar to the black-bellied 
Kaibab squirrel (Sciuras kaibabensis) from northwestern Arizona. In the Black 




Range and San Mateo Mountains J. S. Ligon found a large percentage of these 
squirrels partly or entirely black, a case of dichromatism comparable to that 
of the gray and black squirrels of the Northeastern States. 
Measurements. — Total length, 520; tail, 230; hind foot, 75 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — These handsome squirrels are usually 
abundant throughout the Transition, or 3'ellow-pine, Zone of the 
Mogollon Mountain region (rig. 10) and westward over the plateau 
country of Arizona south of the Grand Canyon. Specimens exam- 
ined from the mountains just north of Silver City, from both sides 
of the Black Range or Mimbres, the east base of the Mogollon Peaks, 
Frisco and Datil Ranges, and Magdalena Mountains are indistin- 
guishable from typical aberti of the White and San Francisco Moun- 
tains of Arizona. Few animals are more narrowly restricted to a 
single zone than these 
squirrels, but the reason is 
obvious. Yellow pine fur- 
nishes their principal food. 
They are rarely found out 
of sight of these trees. 

General habits. — Usually 
Abert's squirrels are very 
shy, but in some places, 
especially where abundant 
and undisturbed, they are 
often boldly conspicuous 
and even confiding. At 
the writer's camp in the 
yellow pines at the head 
of the Rio Mimbres in 
May, 1906, they were abun- 
dant and entirely undis- 
turbed. In the early morn- 
ings as many as five were 
seen at a time running 
about on the ground in 
front of camp getting their 
breakfasts from buried 
treasures. They were so tame that one would often sit on a low 
branch within a few feet of the writer and gnaw the scales from a 
cone, picking out and eating the seeds, and one came down and drank 
at the brook close to where he was standing. 

Their voice is not often heard, but is at once recognized as the 
husky barking of a big squirrel. Usually it is a soft chuff, chuff, 
repeated at intervals of a few seconds and only becoming animated 
when some enemy is sighted and other members of the family are to 
be warned. At times it may serve as a call note, but it seems to be 
mainly a warning cry. It is most commonly heard when the well- 
grown young are scattered and generally proceeds from the mother 
squirrel, but it is sometimes heard from isolated individuals and 
even from the young when not fully grown. The more conversa- 
tional notes of these squirrels remain to be studied at close range. 

Figure 10. — Distribution of Abert's and tufted- 
eared squirrels in New Mexico : 1, Sciurus. 
aberti aberti; 2, 8. aberti minus. Type locality 


Food habits. — In a good cone year the food of these squirrels seems 
to be almost entirely seeds of the yellow pine, at least during the fall 
and winter months, but in places some seeds of white pine and Doug- 
las spruce are eaten. Even in May they may be found shelling off 
the scales of old cones and occasionally finding a good seed, but from 
this time on until the new cones begin to furnish seeds in August they- 
depend on a varied diet. Many old acorns are dug up, while mush- 
rooms, buds, and bark help out until the early acorns and then the 
pine seeds begin to ripen. But even in summer the yellow pine fur- 
nishes much of their food, mainly from the bark of its tender twigs 
and the male flowers, or staminate catkins. The half-grown young, 
when they first come out of the nest, feed largely upon these tender 
pollen-laden catkins, which are abundant during May. These are 
also eaten by the old squirrels, but not so extensively as is the bark 
from twigs. For a long time the writer was puzzled by the great 
number of tips of pine boughs scattered under the trees, in places 
carpeting the ground. Some of these bore young cones, some cat- 
kins, and some only the terminal tufts of leaves. As none of these 
were eaten or disturbed, he could not imagine why the squirrels were 
cutting them off until he discovered little sections of peeled branches 
scattered on the ground under the trees. The leafy tips of the sec- 
tions were neatly clipped as with a knife. By watching the squirrels 
he soon discovered their method of operation. The leafy tip of the 
branch was nipped off and dropped, then a section just back of it 
convenient for handling was cut and carried to a comfortable perch, 
where the bark was removed and eaten and the naked wood thrown 
down. The thick white cambium of these branches is tender and 
sweet and has a pleasant taste. During the time of rapid growth it 
evidently contains much tree food, which also proves acceptable 
squirrel food, just as the cambium from the trunk of the yellow pine 
has been used for ages by many Indian tribes to carry them through 
times of scarcity. 

The question has often been raised as to possible damage that this 
trimming may do the trees. In some cases, under a large tree, there 
are bushels of branch tips scattered over the ground, but this rarely 
causes a perceptible thinning of the branches overhead. It may be 
carried far enough seriously to injure an occasional tree, but the 
writer has never found any case where it had evidently done so. This 
food is largely depended upon from about the 1st of May until the 
1st of August, but seems to be a last resort in case of scarcity of 
richer food. During the autumn months great quantities of acorns 
and pine cones are buried for future use, not in heaps as by many 
other squirrels, but scattered singly in shallow pits in the ground. 
The destruction of seeds is undoubtedly a detriment to the forest, 
but, on the other hand, this widespread annual planting of seeds 
must prove a great advantage. Each squirrel has its own set of trees 
and feeding and storing grounds, from which all others are excluded 
even to the extent of savage hostilities. Enemies are numerous, and 
it is doubtful if half the squirrels ever see a second summer. When 
one fails to use its buried stores they are left in the ground to grow. 
If it were not for the squirrels, the pine cones would lie on the 
ground or scatter their seeds to be eaten by mice and jays. Conse- 
quently, although many branches are trimmed and many seeds are 



eaten by these small tenants of the forest, it is still evident that they 
are great planters, and thus conservators, of the forest trees on which 
they depend for their living. 

Breeding habits. — At the writer's camp on the Mimbres there were 
two nests of sticks and leaves in the yellow pines directly over his 
bed, one in the pine over the roof of the cabin near by, and other 
nests scattered through the woods. He climbed to one of them and 
found it composed of pine and cottonwood branches, gathered while 
green so the leaves were retained in a dense thatch that would shed 
any rain. It was placed in a fork of the branches up 30 or 40 feet 
from the ground and was nearly as large as a bushel basket. The 
branches were securely interlaced, making a firm structure, in the 
center of which was a nest cavity lined with soft bark and plant 
fiber and forming as comfortable a nest as any bird or squirrel 
could wish. Three doorways, just large enough to admit the squirrel 
and no larger animal, and through which a folded hand could slip 
in comfortably, opened from different sides of the nest cavity, so 
that from whatever side an enemy approached there was always an 
opposite door for exit. Other nests seen and examined were of the 
same general type; they were common wherever the squirrels were 
found. In a few cases, however, the squirrels took refuge in hollow 
cottonwoods and oak trees, which were scattered through the open 
forest, but a hollow pine is so rare that the leaf houses were depended 
on mainly for both summer and winter nests. 

All the squirrels seen at this camp up to May 24 were adults, when 
the first half-grown young were seen out of the nests. After that 
the young were frequently seen. The stomach of one of these half- 
grown ones collected for a specimen was half full of curd, showing 
that it was still nursing, although also eating other food. This was 
in May, and farther north in the same mountains half -grown young 
were found common in October, and females have been found with 
milk in their nipples in August and September. It is therefore evi- 
dent that two litters are sometimes raised, at least in a season of 
abundant food supply. The females have four pairs of mammae 
arranged in one pair of inguinal, two pairs of abdominal, and one 
pair of pectoral. The usual number of young is three or four, as 
in other species of squirrels with the same arrangement of mammae. 
Like other squirrels they are fully polygamous, and several males 
may be found pursuing a single female in the breeding season. 

Economic status. — As game, if such beautiful animals should be 
considered game, there are no squirrels better worthy of the hunt, or 
better able to protect themselves from extinction. Their large size 
and good flavor render them always acceptable food, and the young 
of the year are particularly tender and delicious. 

Mearns (1907, p. 252), camping with General Crook in the White 
Mountains of Arizona, said that this squirrel 

furnished the hunters of our party with sport and agreeably supplemented our 
daily fare; indeed, under the regime of a clever camp cook it proved to be the 
favorite dish, although the menu included venison, bear meat, wild turkey, and 
pigeon, variously served. 

"When abundant and unhunted they are conspicuous and confiding, 
but on being hunted soon become the most wary and suspicious of 
squirrels. Once alarmed, they make off through the woods at a 


rapid rate, either on the ground or through the tree tops, to the tallest 
and thickest trees, "where they show such skill and intelligence in 
hiding as to be almost perfectly protected from hunters. When 
located in the top of a tall tree they are usually able to protect them- 
selves against a single hunter by keeping on the opposite side of the 
trunk or branch. It is noticeable that when they are scarce they 
are exceedingly shy, and only when abundant are they at all bold 
or conspicuous. 

As an addition to city parks or private grounds where climate and 
conditions are suitable there is certainly no more attractive animal 
to be found, and the young could be easily taken from the nests and 
tamed for such purposes. In their native forests they are among the 
most attractive forms of animal life and worthy of careful 


Tassel-Eaked Squirrel ; Tsla-qua'na of the Taos Indians 
Sciurus aberti mimus Merriam, Biol. Soc. "Wash. Proc. 17: 130, 1904. 

Type. — Collected on Hall Peak, Mora County, N. Mex., January 16, 1895, by 
C. M. Barber. 

General characters. — This form differs from aberti most noticeably in the 
restricted area of brown on its back ; this is usually but a small spot or stripe, 
and in some cases it is almost or quite absent. The long black tassels of the 
ears are often mixed with brown but are just as striking, and in general 
appearance the squirrel is almost as beautiful as aberti. Specimens from the 
Mount Taylor, Zuni, and Chuska Ranges are somewhat intermediate, but can 
better be included with mimus than with aberti. 

Measurements. — Type, adult female : Total length, 485 ; tail, 225 ; foot, 70 

Distribution and habitat. — Tassel-eared squirrels inhabit the yel- 
low-pine area of the Sangre de Cristo, San Juan, Jemez, Mount 
Tajdor, Zuni, and Chuska Mountains of northern New Mexico. 
(Fig. 10.) Their range is not continuous in these mountains, and 
some slight variation in color is shown in different ranges, but 
not sufficient to warrant further subdivision. They extend into 
southwestern Colorado and northeastern Arizona. In all these areas 
the squirrels are at times abundant, again very scarce, apparently 
responding quickly to an abundant food supply and disappearing 
rapidly in seasons of cone and acorn failure. The writer has no 
evidence that they migrate, but their numbers correspond so regu- 
larly with abundance or scarcity of food that partial migration is 
strongly suggested. In September, 1903, they were common in 
Moreno Valley, where there was a good yield of yellow-pine cones, 
while at the same time in the Pecos Mountains both they and the 
pine cones were very scarce. In 1901 there was a failure of these 
cones in most of their range, and the squirrels were extremely scarce 
along the we 4 side of the Taos Mountains, in the San Juan, Jicarilla, 
and Gallinas Ranges, although they were said to have been abundant 
the previous year, and the old cone cores showed that it had been 
a good year for squirrels. 

General habits. — In habits as well as appearance these squirrels 
differ very little from aberti. They are rarely found outside the 
yellow-pine forest, and their big, rough nests of pine and other 
branches are generally placed in the forks of pine trees or occa- 


sionally in a Douglas spruce. These nests, well lined with soft 
grass, bark, and leaves, are comfortable summer and winter homes. 
The old squirrels rarely resort to them for protection, but usually 
select the top of some tali tree in which they can hide or dodge. 
When scarce they are very shy and difficult to find, and even where 
their cone scales are fresh and scattered over the ground it is often 
impossible to find the squirrels. Their work is easily distinguished 
from that of the red squirrel, as they cut off and carry a yellow-pine 
cone to a safe perch high in a tree and holding it between the hands 
neatly clip the scales and drop them to the ground, pick out a pine 
nut and, holding it between the thumbs, quickly shell and eat it, 
then clip another scale, and so on until the cone is finished and the 
naked core thrown down among the widely scattered scales. 

The voice of these squirrels is rarely heard, but occasionally they 
utter a heavy soft bark not unlike that of the fox squirrel. This 
seems to be a warning cry, usually indicating danger of some kind, 
a passing hunter, coyote, cat, or hawk. The writer has heard one 
of the little animals become quite excited when a goshawk flew into 
a grove of yellow pines. The western red-tailed hawk is often found 
hunting through the pines where these squirrels live, and one that 
the writer shot had its crop well filled from a squirrel it had just 

Food habits. — Under the feeding trees of these squirrels the 
ground is often strewn with scales and cores ; while the little spruce 
squirrel, if feeding on yellow-pine seeds, must rest the cone on a 
log or branch and gnaw off the scales, which are left in a little heap. 
In times of need these big squirrels sometimes feed on the cones 
of the Douglas spruce, acorns, buds, catkins, and the bark of yellow- 
pine twigs. Even in case of a total failure of the cone crop a few 
of the squirrels survive on what they can pick up until another year. 
Usually some of the several species of oaks within their range bear 
acorns, and these seem to be the principal substitute for more de- 
sirable food. The contents of their stomachs generally show whether 
their food consists of pine nuts, acorns, or other materials. 

Breeding habits. — The increase and decrease of the squirrels fol- 
lowing upon the fluctuations of the food supply is no doubt due to 
the possibility of two full litters of young in a fruitful season or the 
restriction to one litter or none in a lean year. 

Hibernation. — These squirrels do not hibernate, and their large 
tracks are conspicuous in the snow under the pines; the Indians 
hunt them most successfully on the first snows, when they can be 
located in their nests or trees. 

In the Chuska Mountains early in October, 1908, the writer made 
the following notes : 

These squirrels are common all through the yellow-pine forest of the Chuska 
Mountains. They are occasionally heard barking, but are more often seen 
running over the ground from tree to tree or heard scratching up the far side 
of a pine trunk. Often when on the ground, if pursued, one will run a long 
distance to get up some favorite tree and hide in its branches. 

They are feeding now almost entirely on seeds of yellow pine, although the 
cone crop is poor and only an occasional tree has a good yield of cones. In 
places they get some cones of Douglas spruce, but the acorn crop seems to 
have been a failure. Under many of the pines are numerous freshly cut 
branch tips showing that the squirrels are still feeding in part on the bark 
of these twigs, which will probably help to carry them through the winter. 


There are many half-grown young of the year and other full-grown young, 
evidently from first and second litters. Some of the old males are getting 
their winter pelage and long ear tufts, but the females are still ragged and 
worn, and neither they nor the young begin to show their ear tufts. 

The series of specimens collected in these mountains furnished 
an important part of the camp food and next to the mallard ducks 
were the best game procured. It is a wonder that they are not 
exterminated by the Navajo Indians who inhabit these mountains 
in summer, unless, like the birds, the squirrels are considered sacred. 

Arizona Gray Sqtjikrel 

Sciurus arizonensis Coues, Amer. Nat. 1 : 357, 1867. 

Type. — Collected at Fort Whipple, Yavapai County, Ariz., December 20, 1865, 
by Elliott Coues. 

General characters. — This is a large, plain gray squirrel about the size of 
aberti but with relatively longer tail and shorter, untufted ears ; body dark 
gray above, white below, tail dark gray with silvery margins. 

Measurements. — A large specimen measures in total length, 552; tail, 284; 
hind foot, 73 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — In 1885 Nelson collected these big Ari- 
zona gray squirrels on the headwaters of the San Francisco River 
in the western part of the Mogollon Mountains near Frisco (the 
present town of Reserve), and on Negrito Creek 10 miles east of 
Frisco he collected two or three more and reported half a dozen 
seen. Farther down the San Francisco Valley at Glenwood, near 
the mouth of Whitewater Creek, in November, 1906, the writer saw 
one on the ground under the walnut trees, but before he could get 
through a barbed-wire fence it had taken refuge in the tall sycamores 
and cottonwoods and was completely lost. On inquiry among the 
ranchers he learned that the gray squirrels were fairly common 
along the canyon of the San Francisco River, where black walnuts 
and acorns are abundant and groves of cottonwoods and sycamores 
afford cover and protection. Apparently they are squirrels of the 
river valleys of southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, 
mainly in the Upper Sonoran Zone, but also in river bottoms and 
canyons where the zones are more or less mixed. Their range cor- 
responds in part with that of the Arizona black walnut {Juglans 
major) , but stops short of the open valley countiy. 

General habits. — Mearns, the only naturalist who has had much 
experience with these squirrels, records them in several places in 
Arizona as coming into the lower edge of the pines, but generally 
found in the canyons and stream vallej's. He says their habits and 
actions closely resemble those of the eastern gray squirrel, and their 
food " comprises seeds of pine cones, acorns, walnuts, berries, and 
green vegetation." (Mearns, 1907, p. 277.) 

Feemont's Pine Squirrel ; Gray Chickaree 

Sciurus fremonti Audubon and Bachman, Quadrupeds North America 3 : 237, 

Type locality. — " Rocky Mountains " ; probably Colorado. 

General characters. — A small, short-eared squirrel of the chickaree group, with 
dark olive-gray back and light-gray belly in the winter but in summer more of a 

North American Fauna No. 53. U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. Biological Survey PLATE 5 


A, Fremont's pine squirrel (Sciurus fremonti fremonti) of Colorado; B, larger Colorado chipmunks 
(Eutamias guadririttatus quadrivittatus) from Colorado. (Photos by E. R. Warren) 




brownish gray above with a black line along each side, and with whitish lower 

Measurements. — A large individual measures in total length, 337; tail, 140; 
hind foot, 52 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The pine squirrel of Colorado (pi. 5, A) 
is represented among the New Mexico specimens by a single indi- 
vidual from Chama. This was collected by Loring, December 22, 
1893, in the San Juan Mountains close to the northern border of the 
State and is a young of the year in perfect winter pelage. (Fig. 11.) 
In every way it agrees fully with the small dark gray fremonti, but in 
winter pelage there is less difference between fremonti and mogoMon- 
ensis than in summer. It is not improbable that summer specimens 
from the same locality will show intergradation with mogollonensis, 
so there is still some doubt as to whether typical fremonti occurs in 
New Mexico. The doubt is suggested by the fact that specimens in 
late summer pelage from 
farther south in the San 
Juan Mountains are refer- 
able to the larger and 
redder mogollonensis. Un- 
til a series of summer spec- 
imens is obtained from the 
mountains about Chama 
the question will not be 
fully settled. This is the 
pine squirrel of Colorado 
and parts of Wyoming and 
Utah, in much of its range 
closely associated with the 
lodgepole pine (Pinus mw- 
rayana), and hence com- 
monly known as the pine 
squirrel. The little cones 
of this pine, often avail- 
able, furnish its favorite 
food, but in their absence 
the cones of spruces and 
firs are largely depended 
upon. Its distribution and 
habits in Colorado have been so fully described by Warren (1910, 
p. 185) and Cary (1911, p. 69) that little can be added from its 
limited distribution in New Mexico. 

Spruce Squirrel; Arizona Chickaree; Tsu-wa-la-ah-na of the Taos Indians 

Sciurus hudsonius mogollonensis Mearns, Auk 7 : 49, 1890. 

Sciurus fremonti neomexicanus Allen, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 10 : 291, 1S98. 
Type from Rayado Canyon, Colfax County, N. Mex. 

Type. — Collected at "Quaking asp settlement, summit of the Mogollon 
Mountains," 16 in central Arizona, May 25, 1887, by E. A. Mearns. 

General characters. — Size slightly larger than fremonti with more fulvous in 
the gray of the upper parts and more black on the terminal portion of the tail. 

16 The Mogollon Mountains of Mearns are the western part of the White Mountains, 
in central Arizona, on recent maps called Mogollon Mesa. 

Figure 11. — Distribution of spruce squirrels in 
New Mexico : 1, Sciurus fremonti fremonti; 2, 
8. fremonti mogollonensis ; 3, 8. fremonti lych- 
nuchus. Type locality circled 


Dark gray in winter, it is more of a reddish gray with black side stripes in 

Measurements. — An adult male measures in total length, 340 ; tail, 145 ; hind 
foot, 55 millimeters. 

Distribution mid habitat. — The name mogollonensis applies to 
most of the spruce squirrels of New Mexico as well as those of Ari- 
zona. Much to the surprise of the writer, the large series of speci- 
mens collected at different seasons in the mountains of northern New 
Mexico show no characters on which to separate neomexicanus from 
mogollonensis, although differing in well-marked subspecific char- 
acters from fremonti. Specimens in the Bureau of Biological Sur- 
vey collection from the Sangre de Cristo, Raton, San Juan, Gallinas, 
Jemez, Manzano, Chuska, Mimbres, and Mogollon Mountains show 
no constant variation other than individual and seasonal. These 
squirrels are also common in the Mount Taylor, Elk, San Francisco, 
and Escadillo Mountains, but have not been found in the Datil 
Ranges. (Fig. 11.) In 1873 H. W. Henshaw collected one at El 
Moro (Zuni Mountains), but none have been taken there since. 
Their range is practically confined to the Canadian and the Hud- 
sonian Zones and is more or less isolated in each of the mountains 
where they are found. The lack of greater geographic variation can 
only be accounted for by the great similarity of climatic and environ- 
mental conditions throughout the zones that they occupy. 

The name pine squirrel, in common use for the dark gray chickaree 
farther north, is rarely applied to this species, which is commonly 
known throughout its range as the spruce squirrel. There is no 
common Canadian Zone pine in this region, and these squirrels are so 
closely associated with the several species of spruce and firs on which 
they depend for food that the name is peculiarly appropriate ; more- 
over, m this region the big tufted-eared Abert's squirrel of the yel- 
low pines is very commonly called the pine squirrel. These squirrels 
are associated mainly with the Douglas spruce, blue spruce, and 
Engelmann spruce, and also the two species of fir common to their 
zone and habitat. They rarely come down into the edge of the 
yellow-pine belt farther than the spruces extend on cold slopes. 

General habits. — These bright, noisy little squirrels are generally 
abundant throughout their zone and if unmolested about camp soon 
become curious and finally fearless in their investigation of new- 
comers. Their energy and vivacity are boundless, but if alarmed 
they are as silent and wary as larger and more hunted game. Their 
stirring chr-r-r-r-r-r che-che-che-e-e-e-e begins with the sunrise, and 
the colder and frostier the morning the more energetically it rings 
from the tops of the tallest trees. Later in the day the squirrels are 
too busy to waste time with more than an occasional chr-r-r-r-r, 
unless some enemy appears in the distance. At any suspicious sound, 
a coughing bark with numerous variations begins and is kept up until 
the coast seems clear, but if the enemy approaches too near the bark 
ceases and is usually taken up by the next nearest neighbor and 
passed along until the intruder is heralded sometimes for miles 
through the woods, though not a squirrel is in sight. Occasionally 
you come upon one sitting on a branch only a few feet above your 
head gazing at you with wide-eyed surprise and curiosity. A few 
squeaks and whistles will usually coax it into frantic scolding and 
astonished antics. Often as you walk along under the trees a cone 



drops almost on your head, and making the bark rattle a squirrel 
climbs breathlessly up the tree to a safe height. Sometimes a low 
chr-r-r-r sounds like a chuckle, and you imagine that the rascal 
threw the cone at you purposely. Again, you surprise it on the 
ground among the logs and brush and give it a great fright, sending 
it flying with puffed tail over logs and from bush to bush until it 
reaches a safe tree, where it is soon out of reach and out of sight 
among the topmost branches, for it is an expert at hiding in the 
evergreen tree tops. 

The nests of the spruce squirrels are numerous and conspicuous 
among the spruces, commonly placed on the branches several feet 
from the trunk and well fastened among the twigs and lateral 
branches. They are usually great balls a foot in diameter, made of 
twigs, grass, moss, and leaves. There is a hole at one side and a 
warm, soft, clean bed in the middle in a cavity just large enough 
for the squirrel to curl up comfortably. These nests apparently 
serve for both summer and winter homes, as hollow trees and logs 
are almost unknown among the spruces. In places the writer found 
three or four nests in a wide-spreading old Douglas spruce, but 
usually there are only one or two in a tree, and after the family of 
full-grown young breaks up the squirrels seem to be entirely solitary. 
This is no doubt a matter of necessity with them, as the life of each 
one depends upon his summer industry in storing food to last 
through the long cold winter. Social enough at a proper distance, 
they call, scold, chatter, and answer back and forth through the 
tree tops, but let one come on to the storing ground of another or 
into his tree or group of trees and there is war at once. The intruder 
seems always to know that he is in the wrong, and when discovered 
his only desire is to escape. Occasionally there is a fierce little 
contest — two squirrels mixed up in a furry ball — but usually it is 
only a race in which the stranger seems always to win; sometimes 
it is over the ground but often through the tree tops and to a good 
safe distance. The fights and chases are most vigorous during stor- 
ing time in the fall months, but during the winter the storehouses 
are jealously guarded. During the spring and summer most of this 
vigilance is relaxed, as the males are then hunting much of their food 
at large, while the mother squirrels are caring for their young in 
the nests. 

Food habits. — The food of the spruce squirrel varies with the time 
of year. When the young come out of the nests they begin to nibble 
and test every article that comes in their way, but finally settle 
down to a diet mainly of buds and leaves, which appear in their 
stomachs as a green mass mixed with the curd of their mother's milk. 
The writer has found this curd in their stomachs as late as August 
17. At this midsummer time the store of last year's seeds is generally 
low, or entirely exhausted, so that the old squirrels are also depend- 
ing upon buds, mushrooms, berries, and various seeds. Usually, 
however, some cone seeds are found throughout the summer and 
can be detected in the stomachs of the old squirrels by their oily 
consistency and strong characteristic odor. When the seeds of the 
spruce cones are nearly ripe the squirrels begin on them and it is 
rare to find anything else in their stomachs for the rest of the fall 
and winter. 


If any preference is shown for the different spruces it may be for 
the Douglas, but the cones of Picea and Abies seem to be nearly as ac- 
ceptable and always preferred to the large-coned pines. Occasion- 
ally the long heavy cones of the limber pine {Pinus flexilis) are 
found with the scales cut and the seeds eaten, and even the hard 
heavy cones of the yellow pine (P. ponderosa) are opened and the 
seeds eaten out or the cones buried for winter use. These large cones 
are not easily handled, however, and the spruce seems to be in every 
way more acceptable. 

The cones are commonly eaten on one or two chosen branches in 
the squirrel's favorite tree. A cone is cut off or carried from the 
ground or from the winter cache to the branch where the squirrel 
sits, usually with its tail against the trunk of the tree, with the cone 
held stem upward in its hands. The basal scales are clipped off and 
dropped to the ground and each seed is eaten as it appears. When 
the cone is finished the core is thrown down, and in this way a little 
pile of scales and cores grows under the feeding branch until some- 
times the season's accumulation is large enough to fill a bushel basket, 
and as time goes on year by year the pile of scales grows, until under 
some old spruces one may find 10 or 15 bushels. Sometimes these are 
from one species of cone, and again they may contain the scales and 
cores of Pseudotsuga, Picea, Abies, and Pinus. As these scale heaps 
accumulate year after year, the old scales at the bottom sink into 
the black mold of the woods' earth, or, spreading out and becoming 
scattered over a considerable area, form a favorite deposit for the 
winter supply of fresh cones. Holes are easily dug in these loose 
scales large enough to accommodate two or three to a dozen fresh 
cones, which are either lightly covered over or left in plain view. 

During the cone season the regular early morning work of the 
squirrel is in the tree tops cutting off and dropping the cones to the 
ground, the tapping and thumping sounding almost continuously 
among the trees. After the sun is well up and the ground becomes 
warmer than the tree tops, the squirrels come down and work ener- 
getically in gathering and storing their crop. Every little hollow 
in the ground, or sheltered space under logs, or nooks and corners 
between the roots of trees is taken advantage of; also numerous 
holes are dug in the mellow earth to be packed full of cones for the 
winter's food. Bushels of cones are thus put away under and around 
a single tree, but rarely in large masses. Sometimes a quart or a 
peck may be found in a hollow that offered convenient protection, but 
usually they are stored- in smaller cavities. 

During winter a network of burrows is made under the deep, 
soft snow, and the cones are brought up as needed and eaten from 
a convenient perch on a branch. As the snow disappears in spring 
this network of runways over the surface of the ground is un- 
covered. Whether the squirrels complete their set of galleries to 
connect with all the chambers of the cache when the first soft snows 
fall, or whether they are able to extend them during winter be- 
fore the snow hardens, has never been determined, but it seems 
more probable that most of the galleries are formed in the soft snow 
of early winter. The squirrels do not hibernate but may do some 
extra sleeping in the very cold weather. Their pantry is so pro- 
tected and usually so close to the nest that there is little trouble in 


getting an abundance of food even during the storms. They do 
not become fat as do the animals that hibernate, but seem always 
to be plump and in good muscular condition. 

During the busy season of cone harvest the faces and hands of 
the squirrels are generally smeared with pitch, which no amount of 
preening will take off until the fur loosens and comes out with it. 
This must be a great trial to such neat and orderly little animals, 
but it lasts only until the cold weather begins and the new winter 
coat replaces the old, worn, and soiled working suit. The pitch is 
then hard and brittle and that on the buried cones is covered over 
so the winter dress of silky fur is kept beautifully immaculate. 

Breeding habits. — The breeding habits of the spruce squirrels are 
little known, as the young are born in spring or early summer, 
probably while the snow is still deep at the high levels in the moun- 
tains. By midsummer, or about the 1st of August, the half-grown 
young appear outside of the nests, and from that time until early 
in fall they keep together in families and are watched and warned 
of danger by the mother squirrel. The writer has never found more 
than four young in a family. Apparently the old squirrel takes 
no responsibility for feeding them after they are weaned, but the 
weaning does not take place until they are half grown and perfectly 
able to care for themselves. Before entirely weaned the half -grown 
young have been found with a mixture of curd, green food, and 
nuts in their stomachs. During October and November the half to 
two-thirds grown young are still in the fuzzy, immature pelage, 
but in November or December they get the full winter coat of the 
adults. They can be distinguished, however, during the first winter 
by their smaller size and by undeveloped cranial characters. 

The father squirrel seems to have no place in the family group and 
has probably forgotten his family ties or has been banished as a 
superfluous member. Apparently there is only one litter in the year. 
In the many series of specimens collected the half -grown and imma- 
ture individuals correspond closely in size and development when 
the dates at which they were taken are approximately the same. 

Economic status. — The flesh of the spruce squirrel is of little value 
as food and commonly has a very perceptible flavor of turpentine ; 
still, when camp is far away and there is no other food, it is very 
acceptable and even enjoyable if broiled over the coals, though with- 
out so much as salt to bring out the flavor. There have been many 
complaints of the destruction of tree seeds by these squirrels, and it 
is probable that they consume more than any other one animal of 
those seeds on which they are in the habit of feeding. On the other 
hand, they are the most diligent seed planters of these same trees. 
The cones are often stored in places well beyond the shade of the 
tree or carried a considerable distance from one part of the forest 
to another and usually buried to a favorable depth for germination, 
in case they are not dug up for food by the storer. Enemies, such 
as martens, minks, weasels, foxes, coyotes, cats, hawks, and owls, are 
numerous, and if half the squirrels survived the winters, their in- 
crease would be much greater than it usually is. Wherever a squir- 
rel drops out during the winter his larder becomes in part a seed 
ground. It is impossible to say how much the forest owes to these 
planters, but it is certain that their planting has been going on for 
unknown ages. 


Under the present forest management and the artificial methods of 
gathering and distributing tree seeds, the squirrels are important, if 
unwilling, assistants, for their stored cones are easily accessible and 
can be gathered rapidly in large quantities with the assurance that 
all those stored contain good seeds. As compensation for this robbery 
it is not only fair but wise conservation to protect the squirrels from 
all unnecessary destruction. But, aside from all utilitarian considera- 
tions, is it not well worth while to conserve one of the brightest, most 
cheerful, and interesting little animals of the forest for the enjoyment 
of those who can appreciate the wonderful out of doors ? 


Ruidoso Chickaree; Red Spruce Squirrel 

Sciurus fremonti lychnuchus Rehn, Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. Proc. 55: 18, May 7, 

Type. — Collected in "White Mountains, N. Mex., Forks of Ruidoso Creek, 
Lincoln County, August 18, 1898, by C. M. Barber. 

General characters. — A well-marked subspecies of the size and general ap- 
pearance of the Arizona chickaree but conspicuously redder in summer pelage — ■ 
almost as red as the eastern red squirrel. The full winter pelage is not 
represented in any specimens examined. 

Distribution and habitat. — Ruidoso chickarees are common 
throughout the Canadian Zone in the White, Capitan, and Sacra- 
mento Mountains, and possibly also in the Guadalupe Mountains 
south to the Texas line. (Fig. 11.) In going north through the 
Sacramento Mountains, Hollister and the writer first met with them 
5 or 6 miles south of the little town of Weed, near the southern limit 
of spruces, and thence northward found them common throughout 
the spruce and firs for the whole length of the range and over the 
sides of the White Mountains (Sierra Blanca). Gaut collected them 
in the western part of the Capitan Mountains, and the writer found 
them in the eastern part. In the southern part of the Guadalupe 
Mountains in 1902 a small tree squirrel was reported as of very rare 
occurrence, but no trace of it could be found. 

General habits. — In habits the Ruidoso chickaree differs very little 
from the spruce squirrel, to which it is more nearly related 
than to Fremont's pine squirrel. Possibly the more open forest in 
which they live has let more of the color of sunshine into their fur, 
or the mixture of red-leaved oaks {Quercus novomexicana) and 
yellow-barked pines in the lower edge of their range has afforded 
just the touch of protective coloration that has eliminated the darker 
individuals and preserved those of the brighter shades. On warm 
slopes the yellow pine straggles through most of their range, and its 
cones are often eaten, but generally the squirrels are found among 
the Douglas spruce or in the groves of blue spruce or firs, where 
their nests and heaps of cone scales show their real homes to be 

Under some big Douglas spruces, just back of the delightful sum- 
mer camp of Cloudcroft, in June, 1900, these squirrels were singing, 
scolding, and working every bright morning. The heaps of cone 
scales had accumulated all winter under the trees, until they were 
conical like wood-rat or muskrat houses, 2 or 3 feet high, and con- 
tained sometimes 5 or 6 bushels of scales. These were mainly of 


Douglas spruce but contained also the scales of firs and a few white 
and yellow pine. Some were fresh and were being shelled daily 
on the heaps, showing that the last year's crop had tided over. The 
ground was filled with shallow holes where the cones had been taken 
out and hollow spaces under logs and stumps were empty. Later 
these would doubtless be filled again with the next crop of cones. 
Some mushrooms were also being eaten, and probably various seeds 
and berries would be drawn upon to tide over the next two months 
until the cone seeds would again be fit for food. 

Up to June 1 the young squirrels were not yet out of the nests, or 
were not visible, but several nests were seen on the branches of the 
spruces. They were made of the usual twigs and leaves and the long 
green tree lichens, so common in the forest. 

Larger Colorado Chipmunk ; Qua-mhbu-na of the Taos Indians 

Sciurus quadrivittatus Say, in Long's Expedition to Rocky Mountains 2: note 

27, 235, 1823. 
Tamias quadrivittatus gracilis Allen, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 3: 99, June, 

1890. Type from San Pedro, N. Mex. 

Type locality. — Arkansas River, 26 miles below Canon City, Colo. 

General characters. — Of the two chipmunks found in the mountains of 
northern New Mexico, this is the larger species, with pure-white belly. From 
the smaller operarius, with which they are in many places associated, at the 
junction of the range, they are rarely distinguished except as specimens in the 
hand are compared ; then the larger size, especially the larger feet and ears, 
more extensive and purer white of the lower parts, and darker under surface 
of the tail of quadrivittatus are very noticeable. Like so many species of 
western chipmunks, their backs are brightly marked with three lines of black, 
the central one extending usually to between the ears and bordered by two 
lines of light gray. Beyond the second lines of black are two conspicuous 
lines of pure white, and in summer pelage these are usually bordered by two 
short lines of dark brown or black. The winter pelage is much grayer through- 
out, but in summer with its golden brown sides and bright markings, this 
bush-tailed little half-squirrel is one of the brightest and prettiest, as well 
as commonest and most conspicuous, of the mountain animals. 

Measurements. — Typical adults average in total length, 227; tail, 106; hind 
foot, 34 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — There are specimens of the larger Colo- 
rado chipmunk (pi. 5, B) in the Biological Survey collection from 
the Raton, Sierra Grande, Sangre de Cristo, San Juan, Jemez, Mount 
Taylor, Zuni, Sandia, and Manzano Mountains; also from the mesa 
north of Cabra Springs, the Canadian River near Liberty, and the 
northern rim of Llano Estacado near Cuervo. Its range is prac- 
tically coincident with the Transition, or yellow pine, Zone of the 
mountains of northern New Mexico, generally from 7,500 to 8,500 
feet altitude. (Fig. 12.) Occasionally one is found considerably 
above its zone on some warm slope where i,t has wandered during 
the summer months, and specimens of old and young were taken 
along the Canadian River near the lower edge of Upper Sonoran 
Zone where a few scrubby mesquite bushes could be seen on the op- 
posite slope. They were living, however, in dense thickets on steep, 
cold slopes where conditions were undoubtedly similar to those 1,000 
feet higher on warmer slopes. Generally they are found throughout 
the yellow-pine forest but are by no means restricted to forest cover. 

64909°— 32 6 



[No. 53 

Brushy and rocky slopes, scrub-oak gulches, old burns, berry patches, 
and thickets of second growth or any combination affording food 
and cover are accepted as a habitat. 

General habits. — In habits the larger Colorado chipmunks are both 
tree squirrel and ground squirrel, as they climb readily and get a 
part of their food from the tree fruits and seeds, often taking refuge 
in tree tops to escape some of their enemies. Their real homes, how- 
ever, are in the ground, among rocks or in hollow logs. At the ap- 
proach of danger they usually seek protection in some of these 
strongholds, where they are comparatively safe. When seen by man 
they are generally running over the ground, along logs or fences, or 
sitting on stumps and rocks watching or feeding. Often they are 
seen in the tops of bushes or on branches of low trees gathering ber- 
ries or seeds for food, and 
if suddenly surprised they 
are likely to disappear up 
the opposite side of the 
nearest tree. 

Voice. — In walking or 
riding through the woods, 
one frequently hears a 
shrill, rapid chipper as one 
of these little animals is 
suddenly startled and scur- 
ries for its burrow or the 
nearest tree. Apparently 
the warning is thus passed 
along to others of the fam- 
ily. Again, on a still day 
one often hears a low 
chuck - chuck -chuck re- 
peated at intervals of about 
one second in a soft, far- 
away tone. By following 
the sound very quietly one 
generally locates the chip- 
munk sitting in a rounded 
ball on a stump or low 
branch of a tree, its tail waving gently as the soft barking note is 
made. This seems to be the regular call note, and it probably has 
many definite meanings in the chipmunk family circle. It often 
seems to imply peace and contentment rather than warning of 
danger. There are many minor notes and sounds that these chip- 
munks make, including a shriek of rage or fear when suddenly 
captured, but their language is little heard and less understood. 

Food habits. — The food of these chipmunks comprises a great va- 
riety of seeds, grain, nuts, acorns, berries, tubers, and mushrooms, 
some green vegetation and occasionally insects. They are much 
more omnivorous than the tree squirrels, and for that reason are 
much more troublesome where there are fields of grain, gardens, or 
household supplies within their range; for the same reason they 
are more easily caught in traps, as they will accept a greater variety 
of baits. Like the ground squirrels, to which they are related, they 

Figure 12. — Distribution of New Mexico chip- 
munks, in part : 1, Eutamias quadrivittatus 
quadrivittatus; 2, E. quadrivittatus hopiensis ; 
3, E. cioiereicollte cinereicollis; 4, E. cinereicollis 
canescens; 5, E. cinereicollis canipes. Type 
localities circled 



apparently hibernate during the cold months, but they also lay up 
stores of food to be eaten in their burrows or dens when the weather 
is too cold or the snow too deep for obtaining a supply in the open. 
Much of the mischief that they occasionally do depends on this habit 
of storing food for winter, for each chipmunk established at the 
edge of a ripening grainfield works early and late from the time 
the grain begins to ripen until the last kernel is out of the field. 
The grain is cut down, shelled, tucked into the cheek pouches until 
they bulge out on both sides of the face, then carried on the scamper 
to the winter storehouse. This is kept up for a great part of each 
day, and the inroads on fields depend upon the number of chip- 
munks at work and the time elapsing from ripening to harvest. 
In many small fields of grain near the woods the ragged, half -eaten 
borders extend far into the grain before it is cut. Acorns and the 
seeds of other plants are also stored, but a grainfield always tempts 
the chipmunks from far and near. The food cache is often dug out 
by badgers, skunks, foxes, or other animals in search of a meal. An 
empty and torn up mass of soft grass fibers a foot or more below 
the surface of the ground and a scattered store of winter seeds are 
often found, showing where an unfortunate chipmunk served as a 

In spring, when the winter stores are exhausted and food is being 
sought far and wide, the chipmunks often find the hills of planted 
corn or gather the seeded grain from the fields ; but the most serious 
mischief they do, or are likely to do, is to interfere with reforestation 
by digging up and eating the planted seeds of trees. So keen are 
their senses for the discovery of food that few seeds escape them, 
and it has been found necessary to destroy them over extensive 
planted areas to make the plantation successful. 

Breeding habits. — The earliest breeding record reported was by 
McClure Surber from Kinconada in the Rio Grande Canyon, where, 
on May 11, he found a young chipmunk with the eyes not yet open. 
He succeeded in raising it as an interesting pet. This was at the 
extreme lower limit of range of the species where it has been reported 
active all winter and where it may breed earlier than it would at 
higher levels. By the middle of June, wherever the species occurs, 
many half -grown young are out, gathering their food, so the first of 
May may not be too early for the usual birth of the litters. The 
writer has never found small young in the autumn or late in summer, 
and specimens examined do not show any great variation in the 
development of the young at the same season. It therefore seems 
doubtful whether more than one litter is usually raised in a summer. 
The number of young as indicated by embryos varies from 4 to 
6 but may be considerably more than this. The mammae of nurs- 
ing females are generally eight, arranged in one pair of inguinal, 
two pairs of abdominal, and one pair of pectoral. The small or 
nearly half-grown young caught in traps or shot for specimens often 
show on stomach examination a mixture of curd from their mothers' 
milk with other food, such as green seeds, tender vegetation, or 

When the fall storing of seeds begins the families evidently break 
up and each stores its winter supply separately and close to its own 
warm nest chamber. 


Hibernation. — Throughout most of their range these chipmunks 
hibernate or remain in their dens during the coldest weather. Unlike 
the true ground squirrels, they do not become excessively fat, and 
their period of hibernation is comparatively short and possibly in- 
complete. At Twining, in the Taos Mountains, at the extreme upper 
limit of their range Surber found them active until the first deep 
snows came about the 1st of December, after which no more were seen 
during the rest of the winter. At the extreme lower edge of their 
range in the Rio Grande Canyon at Cienequilla, however, he found 
them active during the whole winter. This would indicate that the 
hibernation is irregular and depends upon extreme cold ; but it is pos- 
sible that they do not hibernate at all, merely living on their ample 
stores of food in well-protected nests in the ground or among rocks. 
The fact of their failure to become very fat in fall would indicate 
imperfect hibernation, if any. 

Economic status. — Though timid and quick to take alarm, these 
chipmunks are inquisitive and about camps often become tame 
enough to boldly enter food boxes and sacks. About regular camp- 
ing places, if grain is scattered or other food is left where they can 
find it, they generally congregate in great numbers, and in such 
places newcomers with a fresh supply of food are forced to take 
means for its protection. If supplies are to be left in camps for any 
length of time they may be partially protected by storing them in tin- 
lined boxes or cupboards, or by suspending them from wires. 

Seed planting. — In the economy of the forest the chipmunks have 
some value as seed planters, although differing from the squirrels in 
hoarding rather than scattering their winter stores. Their dens are 
more often in the open or in brush land well out from the shade of 
the forest. The seeds of bushes and small plants compose a large 
part of the stores, but tree seeds of oak, maple, juniper, and pine are 
also hoarded, and when the chipmunk is unearthed and eaten by 
some of its enemies the seeds are more or less scattered, planted, and 
left to grow. The forest has undoubtedly derived some benefit from 
the chipmunks in compensation for the great number of seeds that 
they annually consume; but of systematic reforestation they are 
probably the greatest enemies. 


Hopi Chipmunk; Golden Chipmunk; Ko win'na of the Hopi Indians 


Eutamias Jiopiensis Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 18:165, 1905. 

Type. — Collected at Keam Canyon, Navajo County, Ariz., July 27, 1894, by 
A. K. Fisher. 

General characters. — Differs from quadrivittatus mainly in the reduction 
of the dark stripes and the greater suffusion of golden colors ; inhabits more 
arid, open, and scattered forests where, as usual, the lighter and brighter 
colors prevail. 

Distribution and habitat. — In northwestern New Mexico the Hopi 
chipmunk occupies the scattered yellow-pine forests of the Chuska 
Mountains, the mesas and the canyon rims of the San Juan Valley, 
and the yellow pines of the western part of the Jicarilla Indian 
Reservation; but the greater part of its range extends over similar 


areas in southwestern Colorado, southern Utah, and northeastern 
Arizona. New Mexico specimens have been examined from the 
Chuska Mountains, Largo Canyon, Dulce, and La Jara. None of 
these are absolutely typical, but can much better be referred to 
hopiensis than quadrivittatus, toward which they are evidently 

General habits. — At the little town of Blanco on the San Juan 
River, Clarence Birdseye caught two specimens of the Hopi chip- 
munk in a trap set under a jointfir bush (Ephedra) at the base of a 
sandstone cliff in Canyon Largo, and was told that they were some- 
times found in the open valley and even among the buildings of 
the settlement. In the Chuska Mountains they were common 
throughout the Transition Zone from 7,000 to 9,000 feet altitude, 
usually among the yellow pines and Gambel's oaks, and were often 
seen on rocks and cliffs. In these mountains their habits were very 
similar to those of quadrivittatus, except that they more readily 
took to the high trees and often escaped in the tops of the tallest 
pines. The writer found them active in 1908 up to the time of his 
leaving the mountains, October 12. There had been several slight 
snowfalls and the weather was very frosty, ice forming to con- 
siderable thickness almost every night at his camps near 9,000 feet 
elevation. At that time the chipmunks had not yet begun to show 
signs of hibernation and were busily storing food for the winter. 

Specimens were taken in Largo Canyon November 19, 1908. In the 
yellow-pine forest of the Jicarilla Indian Reservation a few were 
found during September, 1904, and their soft, almost squirrel-like 
voices, so different from the shrill chipper of quadrivittatus, were 
noted. This was the first time the writer had encountered the 
species, and their habits as well as voices at once impressed him as 
quite different from those of quadrivittatus and operarius. After 
recognizing the difference in voice, it was some time before he could 
get sight of one of the Hopi chipmunks. They seemed to be fairly 
common but were so shy and so expert at climbing and hiding that 
only a few specimens were secured and most of these from the tops 
of tall trees. They were rapid and expert climbers and always suc- 
ceeded in keeping on the far side of the trunk of a tree. Two that 
the writer surprised and cornered in the top of a nut pine finally 
escaped by keeping the tree between themselves and him until they 
got into the brush and reached tall timber. 

Food habits. — In several places these chipmunks were found feed- 
ing on nuts of the pinyon pine, and several of those collected had 
acorns in their cheek pouches. They doubtless get some seeds from 
the yellow pine but the writer did not find any cones that were 
unquestionably opened by them. Berries and seeds of bushes and 
various plants form an important part of their food. 

Breeding habits. — The breeding habits of this species are probably 
very similar to those of quadh % ivittatws, but there is little to judge 
from except the specimens. Almost full-grown young of the year 
are taken in July and August, and one small young just out was 
taken in the Chuska Mountains on October 3. This may indicate 
two broods a year occasionally in the mild climate where they are 


Gray-Collared Chipmunk ; Arizona Chipmunk 
Tamias cinerewollis Allen, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 3 : 94, 1890. 

Type. — Collected in San Francisco Mountains, Ariz., August 2, 1889, by C. 
Hart Merriam and Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — The gray-collared chipmunk is about the size of, or a 
little larger than quadrivittatus, but is readily distinguished by its duller 
colors, more ashy neck and shoulders, and the broader black stripes of the 

Measurements. — Adults from the type locality average in total length, 223; 
tail, 102 ; hind foot, 35 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Though the greater part of the range 
of the gray-collared chipmunks lies through central Arizona, the 
animals are also the common chipmunk of the Mogollon, Datil, San 
Francisco, Tularosa, Elk, and Mimbres Mountains. They are found 
mainly within the spruce of the Canadian Zone but also in the yellow 
pine along the upper edge of the Transition. In the Mogollons the 
writer found them up to about 10,000 feet altitude, where they were 
just as common as at the lower edge of the zone. This seems also 
to agree with their range in the White Mountains and San Francisco 
Mountains of Arizona where they are mainly in the Canadian but 
also reach into the Transition Zone. 

General habits. — The favorite haunts of the gray-collared chip- 
munks are log piles about old clearings, or the edges of burned 
forests, but they are also commonly found in the dense pine, spruce, 
or fir forests. They are good climbers, often taking to the trees 
for protection and escaping by hiding among the dense, evergreen 
foliage. When not alarmed they are often seen sitting on stumps 
or logs waving their bushy tails from side to side in slow serpentine 
motions as they utter a sharp chipper or low chuck-chuck-chuck. 
They are generally very shy and when alarmed will commonly dis- 
appear among the logs or trees, but one can usually secure specimens 
by waiting patiently until their curiosity brings them out to peer 
over the log or branch. 

Food habits. — In the Mogollon and Mimbres Mountains, E. A. 
Goldman reported the chipmunks as apparently feeding on the cones 
of Douglas spruce, and he found one with a little mushroom in its 
cheek pouch. In the Datil Mountains the writer shot one with an 
acorn of Gambel's oak in its cheek and in the Mogollons found 
others busily gathering acorns and a variety of seeds for their winter 
stores. Currants, gooseberries, and shadblow berries are items in 
their bill of fare, and they dig many little holes in the ground, 
probably for tubers or starchy roots. The contents of their stomachs, 
most of which is unidentifiable, usually show a mixture of various 
finely masticated seeds, some green vegetation, and occasionally a 
trace of insects. 

Breeding habits. — Little is known of the breeding habits of the 
gray-collared chipmunk except that by midsummer the young are 
half grown and in September and October almost full grown. Their 
uniformity in size would indicate but one litter a year. 

Hibernation. — There is little evidence to show that these chip- 
munks hibernate, and it is certain that they do not become very fat 
in the fall and that they gather up stores of food for winter. They 



have been found active in the Mogollon Mountains from 8,000 to 
10,000 feet altitude, up to the end of October, with 2 inches of snow 
on the ground and ice that would hold one up in crossing the streams. 
Their tracks were abundant on the snow over the mountains, but it is 
probable that during the real cold of winter they remain in their dens 
under the deep snow T , either sleeping or comfortably feeding on their 


Gray-Footed Chipmunk 
Eutamias cinereicollis canipes Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 15 : 117, 1902. 

Type. — Collected in Guadalupe Mountains, close to the Texas-New Mex- 
ico line, August 24, 1901, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — This form of the cinereicollis and Tmlleri group from 
the mountains east of the Rio Grande Valley, while widely separated geo- 
graphically from cinereicollis, is so closely connected in general characters that 
it is accorded only subspecific rank. The grayer feet and tail are the most 
convenient characters by which to recognize it. 

Distribution and habitat. — Specimens of the gray-footed chip- 
munk have been examined from the type locality in the southern part 
of the Guadalupe Mountains ; from McKitterick Canyon, Tex., and 
Dog Canyon, N. Mex. ; from Penasco Creek and Cloudcroft in the 
Sacramento Mountains; Sierra Blanca; several localities in the 
Capitan Mountains ; and from the Jicarilla Mountains. They range 
throughout the full width of the Transition and Canadian Zones, and 
specimens have been taken from 7,500 feet on Penasco Creek to 11,880 
feet at the summit of Sierra Blanca. In canyons and cold gulches 
they often range as low as 7,000 feet. They are less common, how- 
ever, in the lower, more open part of the Transition Zone and seem 
to be more abundant throughout the spruce and fir forests of the 
Canadian Zone. 

General habits. — The gray-footed chipmunks are largely forest 
animals and are usually found among the trees or in dense thickets, 
but occasionally running along fences or over logs at the edge of 
clearings and burns. They are fond of rocky slopes, where brush 
and timber offer shade and cover and the cliffs afford runways, 
convenient perches, and safe retreats. They are skillful at climbing 
not only rocks and cliffs, but also trees and bushes. In search of 
food they run through the tops of the scrub oak chaparral and the 
various thickets in the gulches and climb such trees as afford pro- 
vender for chipmunk pantries. Occasionally when alarmed they 
take refuge in some convenient tree, but generally they rush for the 
nearest burrow or crevice in the rocks, where they disappear and 
keep quiet for a few minutes until the danger is supposed to have 
passed. They soon reappear, however, and after carefully peering 
about begin again to carry on their regular occupation of gathering 
food. In the thick brush and in forests they are more often heard 
than seen. Their note of alarm is a shrill, rapid chipper, like that 
of cinereicollis, and not very unlike that of quadrivittatus. In case 
of sudden alarm at close quarters it becomes so rapid as to blend 
into a shrill squeak, but ordinarily it is a rapid trill, often repeated 
several times in quick succession, or at short intervals. They also 
have the low call note — a soft, slowly repeated chuck-chuck-chuck, 


which is heard commonly from the top of a bowlder or a low branch 
of a tree. 

Food habits. — Apparently these chipmunks feed to some extent 
on the seeds of the small cones of spruces and firs, but it is not 
always possible to be sure what is responsible for the scattered cone 
scales over the rocks and logs where they feed. Acorns of the 
various species of oaks seem to form their principal food supply 
during the late summer and autumn. These are gathered and stored 
from the time they begin to ripen until they are all gone or buried 
by the snow. Scattered acorn shells are the commonest mark of 
feeding grounds, and the cheek pouches of chipmunks collected often 
contain one large or several small acorns. Wild sunflower and many 
small seeds are gathered and eaten or stored. Gooseberries, currants, 
and other berries are eaten with evident relish, and fields of wheat, 
oats, and barley attract the chipmunks to their vicinity. 

Along Penasco Creek, Hollister and the writer found them, in 
company with the smaller black-striped chipmunk (E. minimus 
atristriatus) , busily carrying away grain from the margins of the 
fields. As little of their range, however, comes into cultivated 
country, their depredations of this nature are not likely to be serious. 
In areas where reforestation is necessary within their range, these 
chipmunks will probably have to be dealt with in advance to insure 
the safety .of planted seeds. As the forest has been removed from 
much of their range, the question of reforestation is likely to be 
brought up in the near future. 

Breeding habits. — At Cloudcroft, from May 28 to June 2, 1900, 
only the adults of these chipmunks were found, the young evidently 
being still in their dens. During August of the following year in 
the Guadalupe Mountains the young were nearly full grown and 
were busily gathering and storing food. In the Capitan Mountains 
the half -grown young were out and running about by the middle of 
June, and half -grown young were collected by Gaut during the early 
part of July and nearly full-grown young in August. There is 
evidently but one litter a year and none too much time for these to 
develop and lay up their winter stores before the cold weather begins. 

Hibernation: — In the Gallinas Mountains near Corona, Gaut was 
told that the chipmunks were common during the summer, but when 
he was there late in October he reported that they had all hibernated. 
It is probable that they either hibernate or remain in their dens feed- 
ing on their winter stores during the cold weather of winter; but 
specimens collected late in fall show no indication of becoming ex- 
tremely fat as do the animals that hibernate for long periods. The 
deep snow that lies every winter over their range would at least 
make it necessary for them to depend on their winter stores for food, 
and probably shut them securely into their underground dens. 

Magdalena Chipmunk 

Eutamias cinereicollis cinereus Bailey, Biol. Soc. "Wash. Proc. 26: 130, 1913. 

Type. — Collected in Copper Canyon, Magdalena Mountains, N. Mex., Septem- 
ber 1, 1909, by E. A. Goldman. 

General characters. — This pale-gray form of cinereicollis is merely a color 
variety due to a restricted and arid habitat on the sparsely wooded ranges 


of the Magdalena and San Mateo Mountains. The series of specimens col- 
lected on these peaks by E. A. Goldman in September and October, 1909, are 
all in the bright post-breeding pelage, which is practically identical in the 
adults and young of the year. The duller gray winter coat had not begun 
to appear October 4, in the last specimen collected. 

Measurements. — Type, adult male : Total length, 225 ; tail, 91 ; foot, 33 milli- 

Distribution and habitat. — The specimens from the Magdalena 
Mountains were taken in Copper Canyon from 8,200 to 9,000 feet, in 
the San Mateo Mountains in Monica Canyon from 8,200 to 9,500, 
and on San Mateo Peak at the southern end of this range, at 9,500 
feet. A specimen in the collection of the College of Agriculture 
and Mechanic Arts taken by O. B. Metcalf in the Organ Mountains, 
April 18, 1903, though much grayer and whiter than those of the 
type series, is apparently of this form in winter pelage. 

General habits. — These chipmunks, E. A. Goldman says, were 
found along the bottom of Copper Canyon, where most of the vege- 
tation belongs to the Canadian Zone. Here they were rather com- 
mon and unsuspicious, and as he came along the trail on horseback 
one ran in and out among the rocks and finally sat in plain view 
watching him from a rock only 10 feet away. Another was sitting 
on a rock gnawing the cone of a Douglas spruce surrounded by 
fragments of numerous other cones. The number of cones of this 
tree freshly torn to fragments, apparently by these chipmunks, 
indicates that its seeds are a favorite food. In the San Mateo 
Mountains, Goldman says, the little animals were generally distrib- 
uted from 8,200 feet upward, especially along rocky canyons. Here 
they were also found feeding on the seeds of the Douglas spruce, 
and in places cone fragments were found scattered among and over 
the tops of the rocks, which formed their favorite feeding perches. 
At the lower edge of their range they were also found feeding on 
the seeds of pinyon pine. Some of these cones had been brought 
from considerable distances to the rocks where the chipmunks were 
seen cutting them open and taking out the seeds. Judged from the 
number of cone fragments, these sweet little nuts are a favorite 

This is the only form of the New Mexico chipmunks with which 
the writer has no personal acquaintance, but its habits are undoubt- 
edly much the same as those of cinereicollis from which it is only 
narrowly isolated. 

Lesser Colorado Chipmunk ; Busy Chipmunk 

Eutamias amoenus operarius Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 18: 164, 1905. 

Type. — Collected at Gold Hill, Boulder County, Colo., at 7,400 feet altitude, 
October 8, 1903, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — This is the little chipmunk of the mountains of Colo- 
rado and northern New Mexico. In color and markings it is very similar to 
the larger quadrwittatus, with which it is often found associated along the 
lower part of its range, but its smaller size and especially the smaller hind feet 
and ears distinguish it on comparing specimens. In summer pelage the belly of 
operarius is more buft'y and the lower surface of the tail is lighter yellow than 
in quadrivittatus. Its small rounded skull is, however, the best distinguishing 

Measurements. — Typical adults: Total length, 200; tail, 90; hind foot, 31 



[No. 53 

Distribution and habitat. — There are specimens of the lesser Colo- 
rado chipmunk in the Biological Survey collection from the Raton 
Mountains and numerous localities in the Culebra, Taos, and Pecos 
River ranges, from Halls Peak, the San Juan, Jemez, Gallinas, and 
Chuska Mountains. The altitudes at which these specimens were 
collected generally range from 8,000 to 13,000 feet throughout the 
Canadian and Hudsonian Zones. Specimens were collected on 
Truchas Peak at 13,300 feet; on the top of Pecos Baldy at 12,600 
feet; in the Culebra Mountains at 13,200 feet; in the Taos Moun- 
tains at 12,500 feet, and chipmunks were seen up to 13,000 feet. 
The upper limit of their range reaches to the tops of the highest 
peaks, but at such heights they are so uncommon that they have prob- 
ably strayed up from the timber line below. In a few places they 

range below the lower edge 
of the Canadian Zone, as at 
Tres Piedras, where speci- 
mens were collected in the 
yellow pines of the Transi- 
tion Zone. Generally their 
range is above that of quad- 
rivittatus but throughout 
the borders where the two 
species meet they are often 
found near together and in 
some cases slightly over- 
lapping. Operarius, how- 
ever, is a chipmunk of the 
spruces and firs, with which 
it is generally associated. 
(Fig. 13.) 

General habits. — These 
little mountain chipmunks, 
while common throughout 
timbered areas, are more 
partial to the edges of 
parks, burns, and wind- 
falls, or to rock slides and 
brushy cliffs. They are generally seen running over logs, rocks, or 
the ground, and when alarmed they seem always to have burrows or 
safe retreats into which they can quickly disappear. They rarely 
take refuge in trees or climb about through the bushes in search of 
food, but are expert in running over the steep sides of rocks. 

Voice. — Their little chippering voices are finer and sharper than 
those of the larger quadrivittatus, but otherwise are very similar. 
The writer has no record of their making any other sound and can 
not recall ever hearing them give the slow call note of the larger 

Food habits. — In the Raton Mountains, A. H. Howell found the 
Colorado chipmunks feeding on wild cherries and the seeds of va- 
rious weeds, including the ragweed {Ambrosia trifida), which were 
found in the pouches of several of the specimens collected. The 
writer has often watched them gathering the seeds of grass and 
small plants along the edges of the mountain parks and has seen them 

Figure 13.— Distribution of New Mexico chip- 
munks, in part: 1, EutamAas dorsalis dorsalis ; 
2. E. minimus op&rvrius ; 3, E. -minimum atri- 
atriatus. Type localities! circled 


feeding on the berries of twistedstalk {Streptopus amplemfolms) ; 
and various species of gooseberries, currants, and blueberries. In 
the Gallinas Mountains they were feeding on acorns, but generally 
their range is above that of the oaks. At camp grounds they quickly 
gather to collect any scattered grain or kitchen refuse and unless 
discouraged soon become very tame. 

Htbeiiiation. — The writer has found them and has seen their tracks 
in the soft snow of October, but persons living in the mountains say 
there are no chipmunks about during the deep snow and cold weather 
of winter. They evidently spend a large part of the cold season 
in their burrows under the deep snow, but whether hibernating or 
merely enjoying the comforts of warm nests and plenty of food ha? 
never been determined. They do not become very fat in fall, and it 
is probable that their hibernation is not so complete as is that of 
the ground squirrels. 

Black-Stkiped Chipmunk ; Penasco Chipmunk 
Eutamias atristriatus Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 26 : 129, 1913. 

Type. — Collected at Penasco Creek, 12 miles east of Cloudcroft, N. Mex., at 
7,400 feet altitude, September 6, 1902, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — The broad and strongly marked black stripes on the 
back of this chipmunk suggests the bulleri group, but its small size makes nec- 
essary a comparison with operarius, from which it differs in darker and duller 
coloration, more yellowish belly, and in its longer and narrower skull. Only 
specimens in post-breeding, or late summer, pelage, of September 6 and 7, have 
been examined. 

Measurements. — Type: Total length, 220; tail, 114; hind foot, 32 milimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — In 1902 Hollister and the writer found 
these little yellow-bellied chipmunks throughout the Transition Zone 
along the east slope of the Sacramento Mountains, from 7,000 to 8,000 
feet, ranging with canipes up to the edge of the spruce, and appar- 
ently a little below it to the junction of the yellow pines with the 
junipers. (Fig. 13.) 

General habits. — Black-striped chipmunks were abundant in the 
open forest and especially along rail fences, but were rarely seen in 
dense woods. Dozens were seen on the roadside fences, often three 
or four at a time running ahead of our horses, and while many were 
shot for specimens, many more escaped into holes in the ground under 
logs, or among the weeds and brush. They were feeding on weed 
and sunflower seeds along the fences and on the wheat and oats at 
the edges of the fields. They were too busy to be noisy, but their 
chipper of alarm was constantly heard along the roadsides. At that 
season the young were about half grown and nearly uniform in size. 

Cuff Chipmunk ; Gela Chipmunk ; Gray-Backed Chipmunk 
Tamias dorsalis Baird, Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. Proc. 7: 332, 1855. 

Type. — Collected at Fort Webster, now Santa Rita, Grant County, N. Mex., 
in 1851 by J. H. Clark. 

General Characters. — This gray-backed chipmunk belongs to a group by itself, 
with one subspecies, utahensls, farther north. It is the largest of the New 
Mexico chipmunks and easily distinguished from all the rest by its light-gray 
back and sides, and obscure stripes. In winter pelage the dorsal stripes, except 


the central black one, are mostly concealed by the gray outer fur. In summer 
pelage the stripes are brighter though still obscure and the fulvous markings of 
other species are much reduced. The tail is long and full and richly colored 

Measurements. — Typical adults: Total length, 234; tail, 106; hind foot, 35 

Distribution and habitat. — The cliff chipmunk is common through- 
out most of the Upper Sonoran Zone of New Mexico west of the Rio 
Grande River and Jemez Mountains. There are specimens in the 
Biological Survey collection from the Animas, Burro, Tres Pinos, 
Mimbres, San Mateo, Magdalena, Bear Spring, and Datil Mountains, 
or from their lower slopes ; also from Redrock, south fork of the Gila 
River, Upper Mimbres, Riley, El Moro, Fort Wingate, and Gallup, 
and from Fort Defiance, Ariz., close to the New Mexico line at the 
southern end of the Chuska Mountains. They are reported from the 
country around the base of Mount Taylor; and chipmunks that the 
writer saw on the walls of Chaco Canyon but failed to secure were 
undoubtedly of this species. They are common at Zuni and over the 
low country south of there to the Tularosa and Gila Rivers. Redrock 
is the only locality where they were actually taken in the Lower 
Sonoran Zone, and at this place the cold canyon slopes carry the 
Upper Sonoran species. In many of the arid mountain ranges they 
are found among the yellow pines where a Transition Zone slope 
faces, or is in close proximity to, a slope covered with the Upper 
Sonoran juniper and nut pines. In other words, the species fills the 
Upper Sonoran Zone to its limit, with the usual slight overlapping 
at the edges above and below, and is the only chipmunk common to 
that zone in New Mexico. It is closely associated with the nut pines 
and junipers, and its gray color goes well with its open, semiarid 
habitat. (Fig. 13.) 

General habits. — The cliff chipmunks, more than any other species 
in New Mexico, are restricted to cliffs, canyon walls, and rocky 
slopes. They are perhaps the most expert rock climbers and will 
run over the perpendicular face of a smooth sandstone cliff with 
the ease and assurance of a lizard. Living as they do in an open 
and half-forested country, the numerous rock walls and ledges fur- 
nish safe retreats and give them cover close to an abundant food 
supply. The gulches and canyons are usually full of bushes, bearing 
seeds and berries within easy reach of the base of the rim rock, 
while the scrubby juniper and nut pine trees commonly grow in 
abundance along the upper edge of the rim. The chipmunks have 
long ago learned that their only safety lies in keeping within easy 
reach of their rocky strongholds and exercising the utmost vigilance 
in detecting enemies in time to escape. They are very shy and 
almost as difficult to hunt as mountain sheep, except that the collec- 
tor can usually secure the specimen that has disappeared in the 
rocks by waiting from one to three minutes for it to reappear. They 
climb trees, especially the nut pines, junipers, and oaks, for food 
and occasionally, if no rocks are near, they take refuge in a tree; 
but usually at the approach of danger they rush to the nearest rocks 
or log pile. Along the edge of the timber they sometimes follow 
the logs and fallen trees or old fences and take refuge in holes in 
the ground underneath. They quickly gather at deserted cabins, 
which furnish all the requirements of safe retreat and many choice 


bits in the way of food. At such a cabin, on the head of the Mim- 
bres, the writer collected a good series of specimens. 

They are common over the great red-sandstone cliffs on which 
stands the Pueblo of Acoma, and around the base of the Enchanted 
Mesa, and are probably the chipmunks seen running over the walls 
of the Chaco Canyon. On the bare, black lava fields about San 
Rafael they completely eluded the writer by running faster than 
he could over the rough and broken surface of the malpais and 
either disappearing in the distance, or, if close pressed, taking 
refuge in one of the numerous crevices, to reappear, if at all, at 
some far distant point. In this open country, abounding in coyotes, 
foxes, cats, and other hungry carnivores, it is not difficult to under- 
stand where the chipmunks get their training in self protection. 
At Silver City, A. K. Fisher reported two seen in the vicinity of 
town and one secured; and at Pinos Altos, near there, the species 
was common but so shy that it was with difficulty that two specimens 
were secured. Hollister reported them in small numbers at Jara 
Peak near Riley and in the Bear Spring Mountains in the pinyon 
and juniper woods — usually about rocks, logs, brush, and fences — 
but they were very wild, and it was with difficulty that seven spec- 
imens were secured. In the high, barren cliffs bordering the mesa 
near the mouth of the Rio San Jose he also found them common, 
but so exceedingly shy that he was unable to trap or shoot a specimen. 

Voice. — The usual chipper or alarm note of these chipmunks seems 
finer and shriller than that of the larger Colorado or gray-collared, 
and the slow call note is softer and more husky. Both of these 
notes are used in the manner of chipmunks in general, but during 
the intervals of the call note, the slow, serpentine waving of the 
beautiful bushy tail is more striking in this species than in any other 
New Mexico chipmunk. This motion and the voice and many 
of the habits strongly suggest the iiierria/mi group in southern 

Food habits. — The nuts of the pinyon pine, acorns, and juniper 
berries are apparently the favorite and standard food of these chip- 
munks, but many seeds and berries are eaten, as well as the fruit of 
many species of cactus. The cones of pinyon pine are either cut off 
or picked up where they fall, then carried to the favorite feeding 
rock, where the seeds are taken out and eaten or stored for winter 
food; or else the fallen nuts are gathered up under the tree and 
tucked into the cheek pouches for food at a later time. The acorns 
of the Emory oak, blue oak, and many shrubby species, and the ber- 
ries of several species of juniper trees, are gathered and the seeds 
cracked and eaten, or stored away for winter. In Arizona, Mearns 
says the chipmunks are very fond of the seeds of the hackberry tree. 
In the San Mateo Mountains E. A. Goldman found them feeding on 
the seeds of a dayflower (C 'ommelina dianthifolia) , and in the 
Magdalena Mountains near Kingston and at Redrock he found them 
feeding extensively on the fruit of various species of pricklypear. 
Their stomachs contained the pulp of these brightly colored fruits, 
and not only the mouths, but the stomachs and intestines were stained 
a deep purple from the juice. As he found only the pulp of the 
fruit in the stomachs, it is probable that the seeds were being stored 
for future use. On the south fork of the Gila River the writer found 


them eating the ripe, purple fruit of a large pricklypear {Ojwntia 
chlorotica) which they had carried to the rocky points of the canyon. 
One chipmunk, shot while eating this fruit, had filled its cheek 
pouches with the seeds, but its stomach contained only the pulp of 
the ripe fruit. Its hands, nose, and mouth were stained a rich 
purple from the juice. They are very fond of the sweet yellow fruit 
of the wild currant, which grows in abundance along the canyons 
and gulches ; and that a great variety of berries and seeds are accept- 
able food is indicated by the remains scattered on their feeding 

Breeding habits. — The cliff chipmunks breed considerably earlier 
than those of the higher zones. On the head of the Rio Mimbres 
half-grown young have been found running about by the middle of 
May, and by July or August they were almost full grown. Evidently 
two broods of young are raised in a season, as young have been 
collected on September 23, 26, 27, and November 27 just old enough 
to be out of the nests; while practically full-grown young of the 
year have been collected at much earlier dates. There seems to be no 
record of the number of young in a litter, but the females show the 
usual number of mammae — one pair of inguinal, two pairs of 
abdominal, and one pair of pectoral. As with other chipmunks the 
number of young is therefore probably from 4 to 6, with a possible 
maximum of 8. 

Hibernation. — In the comparatively mild climate of the low zone 
in which these chipmunks live, there would seem little necessity for 
their hibernation. Near Silver City, D. D. Streeter collected them in 
1892 up to November 27. It is doubtful whether they hibernate at 
all, or for more than the short period of a cold wave, and even then 
it is more probable that they remain in their dens to feed on their 
stores of seeds and nuts. 

Economic status. — On account of the low altitude of their range, 
these chipmunks come more in contact with agriculture than any 
other species in New Mexico. In places along the Gila and San 
Francisco Rivers, they gather at the edges of the small fields in 
numbers sufficient to do some mischief to the grain, but the writer 
has never heard any complaints of serious depredations in this 
region, although the little gardens and grainfields of the Indians are 
easy objects for their attack. It is probable that the tree seeds that 
they plant and distribute and unintentionally leave to grow compen- 
sate for the great quantity of seeds they consume. If it ever becomes 
necessary to undertake artificial reforestation of these lower timber 
slopes, it will doubtless be necessary to destroy the chipmunks on 
such areas. This would not be a difficult task if undertaken in the 
right way, as they eagerly take any kind of grain that may be offered 
them as a bait. 


Rusty Antelope Squirrel; White-Tailed Ground Squirrel; Hazecxoy of the 
Navajo Indians (Birdseye) ; Iung-yai-ya of the Hopi Indians (Fisher) 

Tamias leuaurus oinnamomeus Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 3, p. 52, 1890. 

Type.— Collected at Echo Cliffs, Painted Desert, Ariz., September 22, 18S9, by 
C. Hart Merriam and Vernon Bailey. 

General charaeters. — 'The short-eared, short-tailed, thickset little chipmunklike 
white-tailed ground squirrel differs from the true antelope squirrel, Ammosper- 




mophilus leuourus, in having a brighter suffusion of cinnamon brown over the 
upper parts. It has the same white stripe along each side, and the short 
flattened bushy tail, usually carried curled up over the back, showing the 
white lower surface. In summer pelage the upperparts are grayish-fawn color ; 
in winter, bright cinnamon, frosted with gray. The whole underparts are 
white, and in winter, silvery white. 

Measurements.- — An average adult male measures in total length, 230 ; tail, 70 ; 
hind foot, 42 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — This southeastern form of the antelope 
squirrel occuj^ies the Upper Sonoran country of northwestern New 
Mexico, ranging throughout the San Juan and Chuska Valleys and 
across into the Puerco and San Jose Valleys west of the Rio Grande. 
(Fig. 14.) There are specimens from Fruitland, Rio Puerco, near 
the Pueblo of Jemez, and from 10 miles northwest of Socorro. 
Hollister saw them near 
the junction of the Puerco 
and San Jose Rivers and 
near Laguna, and others 
are reported from near 
Cabezon, from Chaco and 
Blanco Canyons, Aztec, 
Shiprock, and the Chuska 
River. They come up the 
Zuni River to a little be- 
low the New Mexico line 
and probably to some ex- 
tent above. They occupy 
the open desert countiy 
and delight in the sandiest, 
hottest, and driest areas. 

General habits, — These 
little ground squirrels are 
typical of the desert, where 
they burrow into the mel- 
low banks and mounds 
and scamper back and 
forth from bush to bush 
with their little white flags 
always conspicuously shown when in retreat. There are no trees 
where they live, but they climb to the tops of greasebush and cac- 
tus, where they sit and watch for approaching enemies, or gather 
and eat their food. Often when alarmed they do not take to the 
nearest burrow but run for long distances dodging from bush to bush 
and hiding in the center of some thorny clump until hard pressed. 
If it is merely a collector on foot with a shotgun, they often escape 
by a long and speedy retreat until lost in the bushes. Like all 
ground squirrels they are strictly diurnal and retire at sundown to 
their burrows. These are usually shallow, and in the mellow soil 
do not afford safe protection from their worst enemies — badgers, 
coyotes, and foxes — unless protected by cactus, thorny bushes, or 
rocks. Broken rocks and the low, bare rims of desert gulches are 
always taken advantage of, if possible, as the burrows between and 
under them are far safer than those in the open. Usually the 
squirrels are silent, but occasionally one will utter a shrill, rapid 

Figure 14. — Distribution of antelope squirrels in 
New Mexico : 1, Ammospermophilns leucurus 
cinnamiomeus; 2, A. interpres; 3, A. harrisi. 
Type locality circled 


chipper or trill somewhat like that of the 13-lined ground 
squirrel. Often when one of them is sitting on guard, the white 
tail is flicked in a way that quickly attracts attention, and it may 
be used as a signal or warning flashlight. 

Food habits. — Their food consists of a great variety of seeds, 
fruits, green vegetation, and insects. The seeds and fruit of cac- 
tus are eagerly eaten wherever found, apparently that of all species 
with which the squirrels come in contact; even the fleshy parts of 
the cactus are sometimes eaten, as shown by the green, mucilaginous 
pulp in the stomachs of specimens examined; and it is probable 
that such moist food is what enables them to live in a country where 
long intervals elapse without rainfall and where no possible supply 
of water can be obtained. Cactus and yucca seeds are often found 
in their cheek pouches, but after having been eaten can rarely be 
identified in the stomach contents — a mass of clean, white dough. 
The rich, oily seeds of wild sunflowers and various related plants 
are eaten, and also the seeds of greasebush and a great variety of 
small desert plants. The squirrels eagerly take almost any kind of 
bait offered to tempt them into traps and are easily caught with 
rolled oats, whole oats, wheat, barley, or any kind of grain, prunes, 
or raisins. They are fond of fresh meat and often eat the mice 
and small animals left out in the traps during the day. The stom- 
ach contents commonly show traces of insects, but these have been so 
finely chewed that the species can not readily be identified. 

Breeding habits. — The number of young produced at a litter is 
probably the same as with leucurus, six or eight, as shown by the 
number of embryos from that species. They are apparently born in 
the underground dens in May, as the small young are found run- 
ning about in June and July. Evidently a second litter is sometimes 
raised, as half-grown young found in the latter part of August were 
probably born not earlier than the middle of July. In their warm 
valleys the summer is long and the winters mild. 

Hibernation. — Apparently these ground squirrels do not hiber- 
nate for any great length of time, if at all. In the San Juan Valley, 
Birdseye reported them common and active up to November 20, 1908, 
and between Aztec and Laplatta, Loring saw them in December, 1893. 
During the winter of 1888-89 the writer found leucurus common in 
southern Utah during December and January, in places out on a foot 
of snow. They become moderately fat as the cold weather advances 
and probably hibernate to some extent during times of storm or 
unusual cold. 

Economic status. — In the unoccupied desert country these little 
squirrels are harmless and attractive, but as irrigation reclaims the 
valleys they become one of the numerous pests to be controlled. 
They are at once attracted by grainfields and gardens and do consid- 
erable damage to both the planted and ripening grain. They are also 
fond of burrowing into banks, and the mellow earth of the lower side 
of an irrigation ditch is a tempting home site. If the burrow 
extends only half way through the bank, the seepage of water may 
do the rest and make a break of serious consequence. Fortunately, 
they are among the easiest of the rodents to trap, and with proper 
methods can be controlled at no great expense. 


Texas Antelope Squirrel 
Tamias inierpres Merriani, North Amer. Fauna No. 4, p. 21, 1905. 

Type. — Collected at El Paso, Tex., December 10, 1889, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — The Texas antelope squirrel to some extent shows a 
compromise of the characters of harrisi and cinnamomeus but it is apparently 
distinct from both. Though it has almost the same dark-gray back and long 
tail as harrisi, the under surface of the tail is light gray or whitish — never 
dark gray as in harrisi and never pure white as in cinnamomeus and leuawrus. 

Measurements. — Adults from the type locality measure in total length, 225; 
tail, 79; hind foot, 38 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — There are specimens of the little Texas 
antelope squirrels from the southeastern foothills of the Manzano 
Mountains, from 10 miles northeast of Socorro, from several points 
along the foothills of the San Andres, Organ, and Franklin Moun- 
tains, and below the Texas line from the west base of the Guadalupe 
Mountains and from the Franklin Mountains near El Paso. They 
seem to be restricted to the canyons and rocky foothills of the desert 
mountains, not extending into the open valleys any great distance 
from rock. It is therefore difficult to say whether they belong to 
the Upper or Lower Sonoran Zone, as their range, so far as known, 
seems to follow the meeting line of the two. There may be here a 
compromise in distribution, as well as in characters, of the Upper 
Sonoran cinnamomeus and Lower Sonoran harrisi. The writer has 
seen no specimens from west of the Bio Grande, although Mearns 
records them from " Chihuahua near El Paso." There seems no 
logical reason why they should not inhabit the area from El Paso 
westward to Arizona, but very thorough collecting in this region 
has failed to discover any species of Ammospermophilus. To the 
northward near Socorro their range comes to within 20 miles of that 
of cinnamomeus, but specimens of interpres collected 10 miles north- 
east of Socorro are as distinct from those of cinnemwmeus collected 
10 miles northwest of Socorro as are those from the opposite extremes 
of their ranges. The Rio Grande Valley seems completely to sep- 
arate the species at this point, as the Colorado River does the ranges 
of harrisi and leucurus farther west. It seems highly probable that 
at some past time of unusual abundance both han^isi and cinnamo- 
meus extended their range to the desert valleys east of the Rio 
Grande River, and then as they receded to normal abundance the 
stranded individuals left behind intermingled the characters of the 
two distinct forms and perpetuated the blend in the present charac- 
ters of interpret. In these characters the traces of harrisi seem to 
predominate. (Fig. 14.) 

General habits. — More than any other species of the genus the 
Texas antelope squirrels seem to be restricted to rocky country, a fact 
that probably accounts for their absence from the Lower Sonoran 
valleys. While El Paso, Tex., is given as the type locality, no speci- 
mens were found in the river valley or nearer than the limestone 
ledges northeast of town. Throughout the Franklin and San An- 
dres Mountains they seemed to be restricted to canyons and the 
lower rocky slopes, as they were also at the west base of the Guada- 
64909°— 32 7 


lupe Mountains. At a point 10 miles northeast of Socorro, E. A. 
Goldman collected one on the crest of a limestone ridge at about 5,000 
feet elevation. In the northern part of the San Andres Mountains, 
Gaut collected a series of specimens at the west base of Salinas Peak, 
others on the north and west slopes of Sheep Mountain, and a speci- 
men near the west base of Capitol Peak, where, in December, 1902, he 
reported them numerous in the ledges and along rocky canyons. He 
collected another, January 20, 1903, among the rocks in Bear Canyon 
of the same range. In February he found them running about along 
the east base of the Franklin Mountains, where the temperature was 
close to the freezing point. In a drizzling rain in December, 1889, 
the writer found them common in the Franklin Mountains ; but they 
were then fat and lazy and kept in their burrows except during the 
warm part of the day. 

Food habits. — The food of these antelope squirrels consists of a 
great variety of seeds, berries, and insects. The seeds, fruit, and 
fleshy parts of many species of cactus are eaten. The little hard 
beans of the mesquite and various other leguminous bushes are 
gathered for food, as well as the seeds of the creosote bush, sotol, and 
other seed-bearing plants. In spring and early in summer consider- 
able green vegetation is eaten. 

Breeding habits. — Little is known of the breeding habits of these 
squirrels, except that near Boquillas, Tex., in May, the writer found 
the half-grown young out getting their own food, including various 
seeds and fruits. This would indicate that they are early breeders, 
but there is no evidence of a second litter of young, notwithstanding 
the long season and mild climate of the country in which they live. 
The mammae of the females are arranged in five pairs, which indi- 
cates large families of five or more young. 

Hibernation: — From the fact that they are found active at frequent 
intervals during the winter, it seems probable that these squirrels do 
not hibernate to any great extent. But the quantity of fat they 
accumulate for winter would make it possible for them to sleep in 
their warm nests during a cold storm of considerable duration. 
Apparently every warm day brings them out for a fresh supply of 
food, which in desert regions seems always to abound. 

Economic status. — The fact that this Texas species seems to avoid 
the mellow soil of the valleys practically releases it from the condem- 
nation of the farmer. It comes so little In touch with human 
interests and habitations as to be of slight economic importance. 

Gbay-Tailed Antelope Squieree 

SpermopMlus harrisii Audubon and Bachman, Quadrupeds of North America, 
3: 267, 1854. 

Type locality. — Unknown. (See Merriam, 18S9. p. 20.) 

General characters. — This Arizona species of the antelope squirrel is readily 
distinguished by the slightly longer and wholly dark-gray tail and the dark 
gray upperparts ; otherwise it is of the general size and appearance of the 
other members of the genus and has the single white line along each side. 

Measurements. — An adult male from near Tucson, Ariz., measured in total 
length, 227; tail, 78; hind foot, 40; ear from notch to tip, 10 millimeters; and 
weighed 139 grams, 

North American Fauna No. 53, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey 

Plate 6 

B23272 B4033M 

A, Gray-tailed antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus harrisi) taken near Tucson, Ariz.; B, Say's 
ground squirrel (.Callospermophilus lateralis) from Colorado. (Photo by E. R. Warren) 


Distribution and habitat. — There is but one specimen of the gray- 
tailed antelope squirrel (pi. 6, A) from extreme southwestern New 
Mexico, taken by Ligon in May, 1920, 12 miles northwest of Animas, 
but the writer had a previous record from near the same locality in 
1907 and 1908. At Pratt, a little station on the El Paso & South- 
western Railroad, located about 4 miles east of the Arizona line in 
the San Simon Valley, the gray-tailed squirrels were reported as 
common by H. IT. Hotchkiss, who gave the writer a good description 
of them and told him that he had shot them there about his camp and 
that one was drowned in a tub of water in his blacksmith shop. So 
far as known, this is the easternmost limit of the range of harrisi, 
which is mainly a Lower Sonoran desert species. 

General habits. — The habits of harrisi are similar to those of 
cinnamomeus and interpres, from both of which it seems to be separa- 
ted geographically. 

Its food is mainly the fruit and seeds of cactus, especially of the 
large bisnaga, but numerous other seeds and green plants are eaten. 
In Arizona, Mearns found it feeding on mesquite beans and seeds of 
yuccas. He noted that the mating season is from the middle of 
January to the middle of March. On March 20 he found a female 
containing six fetuses the size of small grapes, and by the middle of 
July found the young half grown. 

Say's Ground Squirrel; Nooyoo'-na of the Taos Indians 

S[ciurvs] lateralis Say, Long's Expedition to Rocky Mountains 2: note 28, 235, 

Type locality. — Arkansas River, a few miles below Canyon City, Colo. 

General characters. — This forest ground squirrel resembles a large chipmunk 
but has a heavier body and shorter legs, tail, and ears. It is brownish gray 
with a buff and a black stripe along each side. The head, shoulders, and legs 
are suffused with bright chestnut in summer and brownish gray in winter. 
The under surface of the tail is clear yellow in both winter and summer pelage. 
In the young of the year there is often a trace of a second black stripe along 
each side. 

Measurements. — Adults from Colorado measure, approximately, in total 
length, 290 ; tail, 100 ; hind foot, 44 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Say's ground squirrels (pi. 6, B) are 
found throughout the mountains of northern New Mexico, mainly 
in the Canadian Zone and the upper edge of the Transition. (Fig. 
15.) There are specimens from the Sangre de Cristo, San Juan, 
Jemez, and Chuska Mountains. They are often found among the 
yellow pines, more commonly toward the upper edge of the Transi- 
tion Zone, but occasionally at its lower edge. Their greatest abun- 
dance seems to be throughout the Canadian Zone, but they often range 
up to extreme timber line. On Pecos Baldy they were found to the 
top at 12,600 feet, and in the Taos Mountains they were abundant 
about our 11.400-foot camp. While restricted to a timbered country, 
they avoid the deep forests and prefer open areas where rocks, old 
logs, and abundant vegetation afford cover and food. 

General habits. — These are not typical ground squirrels but are 
nearer to that group than to the chipmunks. Though they rarely 
climb trees they always prefer some perch such as a log, stump, or 



[No. 53 

rock. They lack the nervous energy and activity of the chipmunks 
and are even accused of being lazy, often sitting a long time motion- 
less in the warm sunshine, especially in autumn when they are becom- 
ing heavy with fat. On a few occasions the writer has surprised 
them looking for food in trees or bushes, but on the instant they 
always rushed to the ground and away to the nearest burrow or 
rock pile. If possible, they dig their burrows or make their dens 
under or among rocks, but in the absence of such protection they 
burrow in the ground under some old log or stump, or even, occa- 
sionally, out in the open. The great rock slides or steep slopes of 
talus along the mountain cliffs, where deep under the broken mass 
of rock they find safe retreats and are well protected from numerous 
enemies, are their favorite strongholds. Generally they are silent 
and rather shy and suspicious, but occasionally one will give a clear, 

birdlike whistle, very shrill 
and piercing, entirely un- 
like the note of the chip- 

Food habits. — The food 
of these squirrels consists 
of a great variety of seeds, 
grains, nuts, and berries, 
some green vegetation, 
roots and bulbs, and occa- 
sionally insects or meat. 
One specimen collected in 
the Jemez Mountains in 
September had its cheek 
pouches full of the little 
bulbs of willow- weed (Epi- 
lobium), while its stomach 
was full of green vegeta- 
tion and some brown sub- 
stance, probably mush- 
room; another, shot in the 
Chuska Mountains, had its 
cheek pouches filled with 
seeds of the yellow pine; 
and still another, collected by A. H. Howell in Costilla Pass, had 
chokecherry pits, acorns, and small seeds in its pouches. In the Taos 
Mountains the writer found Say's squirrels with their pouches filled 
with unripe oats from the roadside. They have great appetites and 
seem, especially in autumn, to spend most of the day in eating, mak- 
ing their sides fairly stand out. They are fond of rolled oats or any 
kind of grain that may be used for trap bait and quickly gather at 
camping places to pick up what the horses have scattered, but they 
do not draw the line at scattered grain if they can find the sack, and 
nothing in the way of camp food seems to come amiss. 

Breeding habits. — Apparently but one litter of young is raised in a 
season, and they are rarely seen out of the nest before the latter 
part of July or the first of August. They are then almost half 
grown and able to gather their own food. By September and Octo- 
ber they are nearly full grown and are becoming fat for their 

Figure 15. — Distribution of Say's ground squirrels 
in New Mexico : 1, Callospermophilus lateralis 
lateralis; 2, C. lateralis arizonensis 


winter hibernation, which takes place somewhat later than that of 
the adults. The number of young in a litter probably varies nor- 
mally from 4 to 6, as with other species of the genus, but 4 to 7 
have been recorded. The teats of the females are generally arranged 
in 4 or 5 pairs, the normal number probably being 5. 

Hibernation. — Like most of the true ground squirrels and unlike 
the chipmunks, they become very fat in the fall and hibernate for 
a long period. The old males seem to acquire the proper quantity 
of oil inside of their skins earlier than the females that have raised 
young, while the young of the year are still later in laying up the 
necessary fat to carry them through the winter. Though the time 
of hibernation depends in part on the weather, it also depends 
largely upon the accumulation of sufficient fat. A few freezing 
nights in September send most of them to their winter beds, but 
the warm days sure to come later bring out those that are poorest 
to gather more of the rich harvest of seeds, with which they stuff 
their cheek pouches and large stomachs to their utmost capacity. 
In the Taos Mountains the writer found them out up to September 
25; in the Costilla Mountains, A. H. Howell took them as late as 
September 27; and in the Gallinas and Chuska Mountains speci- 
mens were collected as late as October 5. These, however, were the 
last remnant, as the majority den up by the middle of September. 
The date of emerging from hibernation is not definitely known, as 
few naturalists or collectors are in the mountains at the time when 
they reappear. There are specimens in the Bureau of Biological 
Survey collection from Eayado Canyon collected April 1, and from 
Halls Peak collected April 24; but as another specimen from 
Martinez is labeled December 1 by the same collector (C. M. Barber), 
there seems some doubt as to whether these records were normal or 
whether these squirrels may not have been kept during the winter in 
captivity. No notes accompany the skins. It is probable, however, 
that the squirrels emerge from their winter quarters with the first 
bare ground of early spring. It is also probable that they come out 
of hibernation without much surplus fat, as late in spring and early 
in summer there is usually no trace of the thick layer of fat that 
lined their skins in the fall. The stores of food laid up in fall are 
probably in part used during the early spring and possibly help to 
tide over the breeding season. 

Economic status. — Fortunately, these ground squirrels do not 
come much in contact with agriculture, but along the lower edge of 
their range there are some small farms or grainfields and garden 
patches. They are exceedingly fond of grain and sometimes collect 
in considerable numbers along the edges of fields, where they gather 
and carry away as much of the crop as the time between ripening 
and harvest will permit. Their cheek pouches are much larger than 
those of chipmunks and, when distended to the limit of their 
capacity, will hold several hundred kernels of wheat, barley, or oats. 
In a small field surrounded by woods they will sometimes take a 
considerable portion of the crop, but they are easily trapped or 
poisoned and need not be allowed to do serious damage. In the 
forest they gather up the seeds of various trees, especially of oaks, 
pines, and spruces, to be eaten on the spot or stored for future use. 


Like the chipmunks, they store in underground chambers excavated 
mainly in the open or under logs, stumps, or rock piles. It is evi- 
dent that many of these winter stores are never eaten and are often 
dug open, scattered, and buried in the earth by badgers, foxes, and 
bears, or other enemies in search of fat little squirrels for break- 
fast. This constant scattering and planting of tree seeds has 
undoubtedly been of sufficient benefit to the forest to compensate 
in part for the quantity of seeds eaten by the squirrels, but under 
modern methods of reforestation both squirrels and chipmunks will 
have to be destroyed over the areas to be planted. This will not 
be difficult to accomplish, as their numbers are easily controlled; 
but as extensive areas are likely to be involved, the most economical 
method of disposing of them should be employed. 


Chestnut-Mantled Ground Squirrel; Yung-yi-uh of the Hopi Indians 


Callospermophilus lateralis arizonensis Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 26: 130, 

Type. — Collected in the San Francisco Moutains, Ariz., August 8, 1889, by C. 
Hart Merriam and Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — In general appearance this ground squirrel much resem- 
bles lateralis. Its principal points of difference are a slightly richer coloration 
in summer coat with invariable dark-gray under surface of tail in adults, in 
striking contrast to the clear-yellow under surface of the tail in lateralis. In 
the young of the year the tail is often pale chestnut along the central part of 
the lower surface. Although widely separated geographically from lateralis, 
this form shows such slight characters that it is accorded only subspecific 

Measurements. — Average measurements of seven adult male topotypes : Total 
length, 282; tail, 99; hind foot, 42 millimeters. Weight of type, 10 ounces. 

Distribution and habitat. — The chestnut-mantled ground squirrel 
occupies the San Francisco and White Mountain region of Arizona 
and the Mogollon Mountain region of New Mexico, with a practically 
continuous range from the San Francisco Peaks to the Mimbres 
Mountains. It seems to be generally distributed throughout the Ca- 
nadian and the Transition Zones, with its center of abundance in the 
Canadian. It is not so common in the lower part of the Transition 
Zone, but in places seems to come to its lower edge and to have a 
slightly lower range than has lateralis. This may well be due to 
the restricted area of the Canadian Zone in the region. 

General habits. — In habits the chestnut-mantled are practically 
identical with Say's ground squirrels of the mountains farther north. 
In spring and summer they are active and busy, but in the warm days 
of early autumn these pot-bellied, lazy little philosophers of the 
woods spend much of their time sitting on stumps, stones, or logs in a 
brown study, as if thinking of the long comfortable sleep soon to 
begin. Early in September they are already very fat and their 
stomachs usually much distended with the rich meats of acorns and 
seeds of various trees and plants. They keep within easy reach of 
their large burrows, which are usually located under logs, stumps, and 
bowlders, and at the first alarm usually take refuge in them, often 
refusing to come out again for a long time, perhaps even until an- 
other warm day. Their slow, quiet manners are in striking contrast 



to those of the sprightly chipmunks, and while often seen they are 
rarely heard. Occasionally one utters a shrill, whistling call note 
either of alarm or warning, and when caught in traps they sometimes 
utter a sharp squeal. 

Food habits. — In summer their food includes considerable green 
vegetation, berries, and half -ripe seeds of numerous plants, but in 
autumn it is for the most part restricted to nuts and seeds. Acorns 
and seeds of the yellow pine are favorite foods, but the seeds from 
cones of the Douglas spruce and probably other spruces are also 
eaten; and seed-filled capsules of Pentstemon, Gilia, and Frasera, 
together with the seeds of grasses and many other small plants are 
found in their cheek pouches or scattered over the feeding logs and 
rocks used by them. Like the chipmunks and many of the ground 
squirrels they will gather at camps for scattered grain and such 
scraps of food as can be found. 

Breeding habits. — The young are evidently born late in spring, as 
they are not seen out of the burrows before early summer. By Sep- 
tember they are well grown and while busily storing food are begin- 
ning to acquire their winter supply of fat. The writer has never 
found small young during the autumn, and it is probable that only 
one litter is raised during the summer. These have none too much 
time to develop and get ready for winter. The 8 to 10 teats of the 
females would indicate rather large families. 

Hibernation. — Up to September 6 (1908) these ground squirrels 
were common and active in Luna Valley, and in the Tularosa Moun- 
tains at 9,000 feet altitude the writer saw one October 12 in the 
gray winter coat. At an 8,500- foot camp on Willow Creek in the 
Mogollon Mountains, one was seen by Mrs. Bailey on October 28, 
which was a warm day following two snows and many hard freezes. 
Its fatness and the gray color of its winter coat were noted as it ran 
to its burrow under a large log on the sunny slope. No others were 
seen at this camp, where they were evidently abundant earlier in the 
season, and this was an unusually late appearance as they commonly 
hibernate before the first of October. 


Rock Squierel ; Ko-ah-ke-na of the Taos Indians ; Za-tet-ena of the Navajo 


S[ciurus] grammurus Say, Long's Expedition to Rocky Mountains, 2: Note 
37, 259, 1823. 

Type locality. — Purgatory River, Las Animas County, Colo. 

General characters. — The rock squirrel is about the size of an eastern gray 
squirrel, with equally long but less bushy tail, shorter ears, and coarser 
hairs. The general color is buffy gray with clear or silvery gray over the 
shoulders. The back is coarsely scalloped or mottled with crescent-shaped 
spots or wavy cross lines; the lower parts are soiled whitish, and the feet 
clear buffy. 

Measurements. — An adult male from Trinidad, Colo., near the type locality, 
measures, total length, 493; tail, 217; hind foot, 58 millimeters. A female 
measures 480, 215, and 57 millimeters, respectively. 

Distribution and habitat. — Kock squirrels are common and often 
abundant animals over most of New Mexico, where rocks, cliffs, and 
canyons furnish homes suitable to their needs. They are absent from 
the open plains and wide valleys and from the higher mountains. 



[No. 53 

Their range is mainly in the upper Sonoran Zone, but in places they 
enter the edge of the Transition Zone and to a slight extent the 
Lower Sonoran. (Fig. 16.) This, however, is no more than the 
usual overlapping of an abundant and wide-ranging species. 

They shun both plains and forests but delight in the rim-rock 
border of an arid valley or the sunny ledges of a canyon wall. The 
great bowlders scattered along the bases of steep slopes furnish 
convenient watchtowers and cover for their burrows, and old build- 
ings, bridges, and terraced roadways also supply their needs. Even 
old logs and stumps are sometimes accepted in place of rocks as cover 
and watchtowers, and " cut-banks," or steep earth walls, are often 
inhabited. Because of these squirrels' numerous enemies, their bur- 
rows are rarely found in the level open places where most ground 

squirrels would choose to 
live, and they are never 
found far from well-forti- 
fied cover. 

General habits. — The 
habit of sitting for hours 
on top of rocks while bask- 
ing in the sun and keeping 
watch for enemies has 
given these squirrels their 
common and appropriate 
name. They are neither 
tree squirrels nor ground 
squirrels, although they 
climb readily into scrubby 
trees for nuts and often 
make their homes in bur- 
rows in the ground. Their 
favorite homes are clefts in 
rocks that will admit no 
larger animal, but when 
none of these are at hand 
and they are forced to dig 
back between or under rocks 
or bowlders, or under houses, logs, or stumps, they usually do so in 
such a way that the burrows can not be enlarged or dug out even by 
such enemies as the badger, wolf, or bear. The burrows are large, and 
judged by the bushel or more of earth often thrown out at a time must 
go deep into the ground. They are evidently used year after year 
and cleaned out or extended each season for breeding or hibernation. 
Voice. — The call note of the rock squirrels is a loud, shrill whistle, 
sometimes prolonged with a slight quaver, but again so short and 
sharp as to resemble the call of a woodchuck or evening grosbeak. 
In the Apache Canyon near Clayton, A. H. Howell heard their loud 
whistling call a few times. In the Big Hatchet Mountains, E. A. 
Goldman recognized " their familiar whistle from the rocky slopes 
between 5,500 feet and the summit." 

The call generally warns of approaching danger and is most com- 
monly heard from the growing young. It is also used by the adults 
and in times of special danger becomes vigorous and excited, on rare 

Figure 16. — Distribution of rock squirrels in New 
Mexico : 1, Citellus variegatus yrammurus; 2. 
C. variegatus juglans. Type locality circled 


occasions beginning high and running down the scale in quite a 
musical form. At times it is a low chuckle or chipper given as the 
squirrel vanishes into a stone pile or under a brush fence. 

Food habits. — The unusually wide range of food accepted by these 
rock squirrels includes nuts, seeds, grain, berries, fruit, roots, green 
vegetation, insects, and fresh or old dried meat. The diet varies at 
different seasons according to the supply and demand. In spring 
and early in summer more green vegetation is eaten, later more fruit, 
and in autumn the richest seeds, grains, and nuts are sought. Often 
the stomachs of squirrels skinned for museum specimens show a large 
proportion of the food to be green foliage, which can not be more 
specifically determined. Finely chewed grain and seeds or acorns 
and nuts are the more usual contents, however. The pulp of cactus 
plants is sometimes recognized. Traces of insects are also sometimes 
detected and occasionally meat from the trap bait or from small 
rodents found in traps. At regular camp places they gather to 
collect scattered grain, and gardens and grainfields always attract 

At Tularosa, Gaut reported the stomach of one taken November 
6 (1902) full of ground-up seeds of saltbush (Atriplex canescens). 
At San Pedro, in July (1889), the writer found them feeding exten- 
sively on pinyon nuts, which were abundant and ripening. Climbing 
the trees, the squirrels brought down the cones to convenient rocks 
or logs, cut off the scales, extracted the nuts, and ate them. 

At Riley, in September (1905), Hollister collected an old female 
whose cheek pouches were filled with fresh juniper berries. 

At Tres Piedras, on August 1 (1904), Gaut shot one with its cheek 
pouches full of pine seeds. 

In Hondo Canyon, on August 13 (1904), the writer found the 
emptied cones of nut pines scattered over the rocks where the squir- 
rels lived, and one of the squirrels, which he shot near a field, had 
its pouches stuffed with the ripening wheat. 

In Apache Canyon, near Clayton, in August (1903), A. H. Howell 
usually found their pouches filled with seeds, and one that he shot 
had been feeding chiefly on seeds of false gromwell (Orwsmodium 
molle). Another that he killed in the Raton Range had its pouches 
stuffed with wild cherries and acorns, and still another was eating 
a large smooth caterpillar. At the ranches in Bear Canyon, August 
23 to September 12, he found them quite troublesome to the crops. 

On the lower slopes of Mount Taylor they were closely associ- 
ated with the little blue oak and GambePs oak, which on September 
21 (1906) were loaded with ripe acorns. One was seen sunning 
itself on an oak limb 30 feet from the ground, and acorn shells were 
scattered at the feeding places. 

In the foothills of the Jicarilla Mountains Gaut collected two with 
their cheek pouches distended with the berries of the cherrystone 
juniper (Juniperus monospermy). The squirrels also were very 
fond of the fresh meat and bread with which his traps were baited. 

In the Capitan Mountains Gaut found one with seeds of the wild 
gourd in its cheek pouches, and one carrying four nuts of the Texas 
walnut (Juglans i^upestris). 

In Dark Canyon, west of Carlsbad, the writer shot one with 13 
of these little walnuts in its pouches and a quantity of cactus fruit 


in its stomach. In a canyon of the Organ Mountains east of Mesilla 
Park lie shot one in the act of filling its cheek pouches with the 
seeds of the big pricklypear (Opuntia engehnanni). Its stomach 
was full of the ripe pulp of the rich purple fruit, its hands and 
face were stained a bright purple, and even its flesh was strongly 
tinged with the purple dye. Skins of the cactus fruit were scat- 
tered over the rocks in great abundance near a heavily fruited clus- 
ter of cactus where the squirrel was in the habit of feeding. The 
seeds were evidently being stored for winter or spring food, as they 
had not been eaten. The squirrels have a habit of storing nuts, 
seeds, and grain whenever abundant and of using the stores when 
other food is scarce. Early in spring they seem to be always search- 
ing and digging for food, and any left-over stores are probably most 
acceptable then, especially during the early breeding season. 

In the Animas Mountains the rock squirrels were feeding in part 
on the berries of checker-barked juniper, and Birdseye and Gold- 
man were annoyed by their persistently getting into traps baited 
with meat for carnivores. 

At Cuchillo, Las Palomas, Kingston, and Garfield, Goldman was 
told that they did considerable damage by carrying off peaches and 
other orchard fruits, climbing the trees and carrying the fruit to 
their burrows or feeding places. About some burrows near one 
peach orchard he found several quarts of peach pits, which not only 
substantiated the charge but showed that the fruits and not the seeds 
were sought. 

At Garfield he shot one which was sunning itself 20 feet from the 
ground in a cotton wood tree and found its pouches full of muskmelon 
seeds from a garden near by. 

In the foothills of the Capitan Mountains Gaut learned that the 
squirrels were doing serious damage to the little fields of corn and 
that many of the ranchers were compelled to poison the animals to 
prevent their destroying the entire crop. 

Breeding habits. — Mearns, in his very full and interesting account 
(1907, p. 315) of the habits of this rock squirrel records two sets of 
five and seven fetuses found in breeding females collected for speci- 
mens. The mammae of the females are normally 10 in number, 
arranged in 3 pairs of abdominal and 2 pairs of pectoral, and it is 
probable that the number of young in a litter may run as high as 10. 

The dates of the fetuses recorded by Mearns are June 14 and 23, 
but the squirrels often breed earlier. At Santa Rosa the writer saw 
j^oung ones out of the nest on June 5, and on the northern point of 
the Staked Plains, between Cuervo and Montoya on June 17 he found 
the foot of a half-grown young in the stomach of a prairie falcon. 
Hollister collected half-grown young at Fort "VVingate on June 29. 
The greater number, however, breed late unless there are two litters 
in a season. At Clayton, A. H. Howell collected half-grown young 
August 12, and in the Guadalupe Mountains the writer collected 
quarter-grown young August 9. Gaut collected quarter-grown and 
half-grown young in the Jicarilla Mountains on September 17 and 20, 
and Hollister took a half -grown young at Riley on September 24. 
They are prolific breeders and would increase at an alarming rate 
but for a host of enemies. 



Hibernation. — In the northern and higher parts of their range 
these rock squirrels hibernate from early in October to the last of 
March, but in the lower southern part of the State they are more 
irregular, and some may not hibernate at all during mild winters. 
The date of hibernation depends on the weather and the quantity of 
fat stored up, and as the late young do not become fat until nearly 
full grown, they are often the latest to den up. Old females that 
have raised young are also> late in acquiring a winter's store of fat 
and consequently in going into winter quarters, so a few late records 
may be taken when general hibernation has been going on for some 
time. In the Eaton Range, A. H. Howell found these squirrels 
common and active up to September 12, and near Catskill up to 
October 1; and E. C. Thurber collected one at Chico, October 23. In 
Taos Creek the writer found them common to September 30 and on 
Chama River to October 15. In the Chuska Mountains a few were 
found from October 1 to 12, and along the San Juan River valley a 
few were seen October 15 to 20, but they had mostly disappeared. 
No more were seen by Birdseye, who remained in the valley to 
November 20. In Chaco Canyon none were seen October 23 and 24, 
but at San Rafael a few were found up to October 31. 

In the West Datil Mountains the writer found them out to October 
9, and in the East Datils Hollister reported them common to October 
24. In the Manzano Mountains Gaut collected specimens October 
10 and 27 and at Tularosa November 5 and 15, but failed to find 
any trace of them later during December and January in the San 
Andres and Organ Mountains. On November 9, in a warm canyon 
of the Organ Mountains, the writer collected one but saw no others. 

E. A. Goldman found them common through October in the foot- 
hills west of the Rio Grande and a few still out at Kingston and 
Lake Valley up to November 7 to 14, and at Garfield, November 
17 to 21. Two specimens caught in traps by McClure Surber Janu- 
ary 12 and 28 under an old mill in Hondo Canyon are actual winter 
records, and it would not be surprising to find one or two out in 
the warm, sheltered canyons on mild days in winter. 

There are few data to show when they emerge from hibernation, 
as collectors rarely reach the field until they are out and active. 
At Cienequilla, in the Rio Grande Valley above Sante Fe, in 1904, 
Surber reported them numerous but says, " I saw very few, however, 
until April 3, which was a beautiful day and brought them out in 
great numbers. I counted 23 during a short walk up the river." 
From that time on he reported them as common and the date of 
April 3 probably marked the general awakening from hibernation. 

Economic status. — Although fairly good eating, these rock squir- 
rels are rarely used as food or classed as game. The general feeling 
against animals that live in burrows in the ground seems to be 
responsible for this, as their habits are cleanly and their size is 
equal to that of the eastern gray squirrel. Their use as food should 
be encouraged, however, as this would aid in keeping down their 
numbers and protecting the crops. In a few cases they have been 
accused of burrowing into the banks of irrigation ditches and 
causing breaks, and the writer has seen many places in canyons 
and along hillsides where this might well happen. 


Their large size, abundance, and wide distribution would make 
of them a very serious farm pest but for the fact that much of 
their range is unoccupied arid land. With increasing reclamation 
and agriculture their injury to crops and fruit will become greater 
and effective measures will be required to keep them under control. 
Shooting and trapping now usually suffice to keep their numbers 
down at the little canyon ranches, but as the country fills up and the 
hawks, owls, foxes, wild cats, and coyotes are thinned out or driven 
back the squirrels will increase. They thrive on civilization and 
appreciate its protection. They gather at ranches and about villages, 
and the writer has seen them sitting as at home on old house walls 
and chimney tops even where they had to go to the hills to get their 
food; for they have little fear of dogs or tame cats, but bobcats, 
gray foxes, coyotes, and hawks make life a burden to them. 

Walnut Rock Squirrel 
Citellus variegatus juglans Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 26 : 131, 1913. 

Type. — Collected at Glenwood, N. Mex., at 5,000 feet altitude on the Rio 
San Francisco at the southwest base of the Mogollon Mountains, November 2, 
1906, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — This large, dark-colored form of the rock squirrel 
resembles typical variegatus from the valley of Mexico in external characters 
much more nearly than it does the light-gray grammurus from most of New 
Mexico. From variegatus it is distinguished mainly by cranial characters 
and especially by the lighter dentition. 

Measurements. — The type, an adult male, measures in total length, 500; 
tail, 230 ; hind foot, 65 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The walnut rock squirrels inhabit the 
valleys and canyons of the Gila and San Francisco Rivers and their 
numerous branches throughout the Mogollon Mountains, and extend 
over to the head of the Mimbres and into the Burro Mountains. In 
these warm canyons filled with luxuriant vegetation and abundance of 
nuts, fruits, and berries, they seem to have developed well-established 
characters, which distinguish them from the squirrels of the more 
open and arid country. They occupy both the Upper and Lower 
Sonoran Zones in the narrow valleys where these zones are more or 
less mixed or intermingled. The specimens that the writer refers 
to this form are from Glenwood, Gila, Redrock, Burro Mountains, 
head of the Rio Mimbres, and the east fork of the Gila River at 
the site of Old Fort Vincent. Their range is almost coincident with 
that of the Arizona black walnut {Juglans major), with which they 
are closely associated and the nuts of which furnish much of their 

General habits. — In the narrow canyons that cut deeply into the 
Mogollon Mountains from the south and west, sheer rock walls and 
numerous caves and clefts furnish ideal homes and safe retreats for 
these squirrels. Here they can bask in the sun or dodge quickly into 
narrow crevices among the rocks, and find an abundance of food, 
furnished by the black walnuts, numerous oaks, nut pines, junipers, 
grapes, hackberries, cherries, and other fruit, and seed bearing 
plants. At the type locality the writer found them common and 
still active up to November 5 (1906). They were frequently seen and 
heard along the canyon sides, and their big burrows under rocks, 

North American Fauna No. 53, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey 

Plate 7 

B23238 B18556 

A, Spotted ground squirrel (Citellus spilosoma canescens) from Arizona; B, pale 13-lined ground 
squirrel (C. tridecemlineatus arenicola) on plains near Clayton, N. Mex. 



logs, and banks showed signs of constant use. The type of this form, 
an old male caught at an opening under a bank of driftwood on the 
river flats, was very fat and in perfect, glossy winter coat, dark and 
heavily mottled. Its stomach was full of juniper berries — chewed-up 
seeds, skins, and all — which were easily recognized. It was in 
perfect condition for hibernating but evidently waiting for the cold 
weather, which had not yet begun in the low canyon. At Cliff, on 
the Gila, they were still active during the writer's stay from Novem- 
ber 6 to 9, 1906, and in these low canyons it would not be surprising 
to find them out on any warm day during the winter. At a point 
6 miles south of Chloride on December 16, 1915, J. S. Ligon reported 
three out sunning themselves. At Gila E. A. Goldman found them 
common among the rocks on the hillsides, under the drift logs in 
the bottom of the river valley, and under the cover of dense thickets ; 
they were also living in holes in the ground along the steep banks 
of the arroyos. He found them common at Redrock and along the 
box canyon of the Gila just above. 

Farther north along the Rio San Francisco they are abundant 
from Alma up through the canyon to Reserve and thence up the 
Tularosa Valley to Joseph; and up the Negrito Creek Canyon and 
in the numerous side canyons cutting back from the river. Up to 
October 14 they were abundant and active in the canyons between 
Frisco and Joseph, where they were seen feeding on the black 
walnuts, which in places carpeted the ground under the low-spread- 
ing trees. There was also an abundance of acorns, pine nuts, and 
juniper berries in these canyons, all of which probably supplied them 
with food. In the Burro Mountains E. A. Goldman found them 
common among the rocks from the foothills up to about 6,500 feet 
altitude. Along the east fork of the Gila and Diamond Creek Canyon 
they were abundant in the walnut groves at the base of cliffs and on 
the steep rocky slopes, and in places were occupying the old caves 
used long ago by cliff dwellers. In some of these caves were the 
remains of plastered walls and storage vaults where food supplies 
had evidently been securely inclosed to protect them from the ravages 
of the rodents. 

In some of the canyons where there were gardens and small farms 
it seemed as if the depredations of these squirrels must be very seri- 
ous. Up to the present time, however, so little agriculture has been 
attempted in this region that few complaints have been heard against 
animals smaller than wolves, mountain lions, and bears. 

Gray Spotted Geound Squieeel, 

Spermophilus canescens Merriam, North Arner. Fauna No. 4, p. 38, 1890. 17 
Spermophilus spUosoma macro spilotus Merriam, North Arner. Fauna No. 4, 
p. 38, 1890. 

Type. — Collected at Wilcox, Ariz., November 16, 1889, by "Vernon Bailey. 
General characters. — About the size of the antelope squirrel or a large chip- 
munk, but instead of being striped is closely and irregularly dotted over the 

17 Spermophilus canescens Merriam was based on the gray phase of the spotted 
spermophile occurring at Wilcox, Ariz., before its dichromatism was discovered. In its 
red phase it is identical with macrospilotus, and as both species were described on the 
same page of North American Fauna No. 4 (Merriam, 1890b, p. 38) the name canescens 
is here adopted because of priority on the page. 



[No. 53 

back with white spots, which in unworn pelage usually show narrow posterior 
margins of black. The ears are very short ; the tail is slender and slightly 
spreading. The ground color of the upperparts is bright ochraceous, light 
russet brown, or ashy gray ; the underparts are white or soiled whitish. A few 
individuals are much more grayish. 

Measurements. — An adult male from Oracle measures in total length 220; 
tail, 70; hind foot, 32 millimeters. Another male from near Tucson measured 
20S, 51, and 30 millimeters, respectively, and weighed 107 grams. 

Distribution and habitat. — There are specimens of the gray spotted 
ground squirrel (pi. 7, A) in the Biological Survey collection from 
Deming, Faywood, Silver City, Mangas Valley, Hachita, and the 
southern end of Playas Valley. (Fig. 17.) Mearns collected them 
at Dog Spring in the Dog Mountains, at the Corner Monument No. 
40 and Monument No. 15 west of El Paso on the Mexican boundary 

line. Specimens from El 
Paso, Tex., Mesilla Park, 
and Alamogordo carry it 
over the Rio Grande Val- 
ley. There are also re- 
ferred to this form a se- 
ries of larger and grayer 
specimens collected by E. 
A. Goldman at Lake Val- 
ley, near Ojo Caliente, on 
the Alamosa River, at lo- 
calities 10 and 15 miles 
southeast of Magdalena, 
and on the San Augustine 
Plains 12 miles north of 
Monica Spring, and by 
Hollister at the base of the 
Bear Spring Mountains. 
Over the Deming Plains 
these squirrels are re- 
stricted mainly to the up- 
per division of the Lower 
Sonoran Zone, but in places 
they extend somewhat into 
the edge of the Upper So- 
noran, and those of the 
San Augustine Plains are in straight Upper Sonoran Zone. They are 
desert-loving animals and most abundant in the barren arid valleys. 
General habits. — In color and habits these little squirrels are per- 
fectly adapted to desert conditions. With their spotted sand-colored 
backs, they are as inconspicuous as the lizards and horned toads, and 
are largely dependent on their coloration for protection. They run 
quickly over hot stretches of sand from bush to bush or burrow to 
burrow, and the instant they stop running are lost to sight. Their 
only sure protection from a host of enemies is found in numerous 
burrows entering the sandy banks of dry washes, the sides of sand 
dunes, or little sand blown mounds at the base of mesquite or creosote 
bushes or at the edge of cactus beds. They seem always close to some 
burrow and if pursued, in a twinkling disappear underground. 

Generally, they are quiet and shy, endeavoring to keep out of sight, 
but occasionally one utters a long, quavering or bubbling whistle, so 

Figure 17. — Distribution of the spotted ground 
squirrels in New Mexico : 1, Citellus spilosoma 
major; 2, C. spilosoma obsidianus; 3, C. spilo- 
soma macrospilotus ; 4, C. spilosoma mart/i- 
natus ; 5, C. spilosoma arens. Type locality 


fine and piercing that it suggests a bird or insect. To human ears 
it gives no clue to direction, no hint of its author's location. It is evi- 
dently a warning note, but may also be used as a call note among the 
individuals of a family. Even when located, the little spotted squir- 
rels are not easily kept track of, but when one has been seen disap- 
pearing down its burrow, after a few minutes of patient waiting the 
little black eye is almost sure to appear at the entrance, and a low 
squeak or fine whistle will make the head pop up like a jack-in-a-box. 
In desert valleys they may be located by their little spreading tracks 
around burrows. Besides the few burrows they dig for themselves, 
they use any opening that comes handy, from kangaroo-rat to prairie- 
dog and badger holes. 

Food habits. — The food of the spotted ground squirrels consists 
largely of the seeds of the small desert plants among which they live 
and green vegetation and cactus. At Deming they were found feed- 
ing mainly on the seeds of wild sunflowers, which in December were 
abundant, but the stomach of one contained also considerable green 
mucilaginous pulp from a cactus plant. At Mesilla they were feed- 
ing on wild-gourd seeds. They will take any kind of grain used for 
trap bait and are especially fond of rolled oats. On the San Augus- 
tine Plains, Goldman found them feeding largely on the seeds of salt- 
bush (Atriplex canes cens) . They have been reported feeding exten- 
sively on mesquite beans, and it is probable that almost every bean 
bush of the desert contributes to their food supply, while the many 
species of cactus and other juicy plants furnish an ample supply of 
moisture in a region where water is rarely obtained. They also eat a 
good many insects and are fond of fresh meat. 

Breeding habits. — The mammae of the females are usually ar- 
ranged in 5 pairs — 2 pairs of inguinal, 2 abdominal, and 1 pectoral. 
There is little evidence of the number of young in a litter, but it 
can be safely assumed to be five or more, as in other members of the 
group. A female collected by Mearns at Fort Hancock, Tex., June 
15, contained 7, and another taken June 23, 6 small fetuses, and 
one on June 25 was giving milk. On June 26 at the same place 
Mearns also collected a half-grown young. The ages and the dates 
of taking of immature specimens in the Biological Survey collection 
indicate two litters in a year. Even in the upper part of their range 
on the San Augustine Plains, Hollister collected small and large 
young at the same date, September 17, which would indicate early 
and late litters; small young just out of the burrows were collected 
at Hachita by Goldman July 14, and others, of about the same size 
in Mangos Valley on October 4 of the same year, indicating at least 
two litters in that region. Mearns reports young seen out of their 
burrows as early as April 28. 

Hibernation. — Before the cold weather begins the adults become 
very fat and disappear into their underground dens. The late young, 
which do not accumulate fat so early, are found out of the burrows 
on warm days until a much later time. At Deming several young 
of the year were collected on December 4 and 6, 1889. Most of those 
collected after the last of September are young, and it is probable 
that some of the adults enter hibernation early in September. In 
April they are usually out and active again, and Mearns collected 
them in March on the Mexican boundary line in southern New 


Mexico and reported them out in February and March at El Paso 
in 1892. The mating season evidently begins as soon as they emerge 
from hibernation in March and April. 

Economic statins. — Over most of the valleys where these squirrels 
are common there is no agriculture, and their consumption of seeds 
and green vegetation is of no practical moment. At Mesilla Park, 
Fabian Garcia reports these little squirrels doing considerable mis- 
chief in the fields, especially in digging up the planted seeds. Their 
injury to growing crops and ripening grain will never be so serious 
as with larger species, but may in places cause considerable loss. As 
they occupy a valley region that is being brought under intensive 
cultivation by means of irrigation, their burrows are almost certain 
to cause considerable trouble in the ditch banks, and it will eventually 
be necessary to take measures to keep down their numbers. 

Laegb Spotted Ground Squirrel 

Spermophilus spilosoma major Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 4, p. 39, 1890. 

Type. — Collected at Albuquerque, N. Mex., June 22, 1889, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — Though this is one of the largest forms of the spotted 
spermophile in the United States, it is not a large animal and is only slightly 
larger than canescens. In the brightest summer pelage the upperparts are 
pale fulvous with large white dots scattered over the back; the underparts 
white. The early spring pelage is more grayish. 

Measurements. — The type, an adult female, measured in total length, 234 ; tail, 
80; hind foot, 30 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Since first described by Merriam in 1890 
from specimens collected at Albuquerque, the range of the large 
spotted ground squirrel has been found to extend north along the 
Rio Grande to Espanola, east to Santa Rosa, down the Canadian 
River Valley, and thence south down the Pecos River Valley to the 
Davis Mountains, Tex., where it seems to include the form described 
in 1902 as marginoius. Considerable variation is shown over this 
range, but the writer is referring to major specimens from Isleta, 
Espanola, Santa Rosa, Cabra Spring (about 30 miles north of Santa 
Rosa), from 8 miles north and 30 miles south of Fort Sumner, and 
20 miles north of Roswell and near Carlsbad in the Pecos Valley and 
from Carrizozo and the north base of the Capitan Mountains farther 
west. Their range is mainly in the Upper Sonoran Zone of the Rio 
Grande, Pecos, and Canadian River Valleys, but seems not to extend 
far out onto the Upper Sonoran Plains. 

General habits. — At Albuquerque, where this species was first 
taken in July, 1889, the squirrels were abundant over the dry mesa 
top and along the edge of the valley east of town, and some were 
seen even in the edge of town among the houses. Early in the morn- 
ings they could be heard calling over the mesa top and seen standing 
up like picket pins, watching the approach of the writer from as far 
as he could see them. During the hottest part of the day they were 
less in evidence and were evidently keeping cool in their burrows, 
which were small and inconspicuously dug out here and there, with 
the entrance often concealed by a bush or tuft of weeds. When 
alarmed the squirrels would quickly disappear into prairie-dog or 
badger burrows, or any opening offering a convenient retreat, and 


as usual in arid regions where burrows remain open for years after 
being abandoned, they abounded. The squirrels seemed to be uni- 
formly distributed over the dry part of the valley but entirely 
absent from the irrigated land or the moist river valley where vege- 
tation was abundant. In 1905 Hollister found them common near 
Isleta on the dry sandy hills near the river and up on the rocky 
slopes of the first mesa. They were very shy and not over four or 
five individuals were seen. These were generally seen during the 
cool morning or evening hours. In 1904 Gaut found them common 
over the dry part of the Rio Grande Valley about Espanola, where 
he collected a series of seven specimens. In 1903 a few were collected 
about Santa Rosa, but they were not very common here and were 
only occasionally seen or heard. 

Food habits. — The large spotted ground squirrels feed on numer- 
ous seeds of the desert plants and even such weeds as the sandbur 
{Genchrus tribuloides) . They eat considerable green vegetation, 
and their stomachs are often found well filled with grasshoppers 
and beetles, but actual knowledge of their food habits is meager. 

Breeding habits. — At Albuquerque half -grown young were found 
abundant in July. One old female taken July 16 contained 5 small 
embryos. The mammae of the females are arranged in 5 pairs and 
the number of young probably varies from 5 to 10 in a litter. Evi- 
dently two litters are raised in a season, as indicated by the July 
embryos and half -grown young. 

Hibernation. — Most of the specimens collected have been taken 
during the summer months, but some are dated as late as September 
27 and others as early as May 2. Though these dates suggest the 
time of entering and emerging from hibernation, it is more probable 
that the squirrels disappear late in October and reappear early in 

At Corona, on October 10 (1902), Gaut was unable to find any of 
the squirrels, although they were said to be common earlier in the 
season. At Carrizozo, farther south, he collected one as late as 
October 29, but apparently most of them had hibernated. Near Ros- 
well half-grown young of the year were collected as late as Septem- 
ber 16, but the adults presumably were hibernating. These late 
young would indicate a second litter. 

Economic status. — The range of this species lies almost entirely 
outside of the irrigated areas but comes within a dry-farming dis- 
trict. Locally the squirrels may do considerable mischief by taking 
the planted seeds from the ground before they come up, but the 
depredations in grainfields are not likely to be serious unless their 
numbers greatly increase. 


Park Spotted Ground Squirrel 

Spermophilus spilosoma pratensis Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 3, p. 55, 1890. 

Type. — Collected in San Francisco Mountains (northeast base), Ariz., August 
5, 1889, by C. Hart Merriam and Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — This small dark-colored ground squirrel is merely a 
dark-color phase of the spilosoma group, dull sepia brown, dotted over the 
back with small whitish spots. 

64909°— 32 8 


Distribution and habitat. — The park spotted ground squirrels come 
into western New Mexico along the Puerco and Zuni River Valleys, 
as shown by specimens from Gallup and Thoreau and one from 
Ojo Caliente, near Zuni, which the writer examined in the field but 
could not save. Their range is probably much more general and 
extensive than is shown by these few records as the field work has 
not been very thorough over that part of the State. 

They occupy the semiarid Upper Sonoran Zone among the scat- 
tered junipers and nut pines or the narrow open valleys between the 
areas of scrubby timber. Though usually not on actual malpais, as 
were those from the type locality, they are generally on dark soil, 
much of which is volcanic. Their dark color is here as protective 
as is the light sand color of squirrels of the sandy river valleys. 

At Wingate, in June, 1905, Hollister found these squirrels exceed- 
ingly shy. Their burrows were usually on hill sides in small groups, 
and most of the squirrels disappeared in them as soon as seen and 
did not reappear. No specimens were taken at Wingate, but a week 
later three were trapped near Gallup, where they occurred in about 
the same numbers. At Thoreau, in June, 1909, Goldman took one 
specimen and reported the squirrels common on the plain near the 


Rio Grande Ground Squirrel. 

Spermophilus mexicanus parvidens Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. 18: 443, 
1896 (advance sheets). 

Type.— Collected at Fort Clark, Tex., March 21, 1893, by E. A. Mearns. 

General characters. — Largest of the striped ground squirrels of Texas and 
New Mexico, although smaller than typical mexicanus from farther south. The 
whole back is striped with nine well-defined parallel rows of whitish spots 
over dull brown ; the underparts are creamy or soiled whitish ; the ears are 
very short ; and the tail long and spreading. 

Measurements. — Adult male from Roswell : Total length, 330 ; tail, 131 ; hind 
foot, 43 millimeters; adult female, 302, 118, and 39 millimeters, respectively. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Rio Grande ground squirrel is a 
southern species coming into southeastern New Mexico along the 
Pecos Valley to Carlsbad and Roswell. (Fig. 18.) Its range seems 
to be restricted to Lower Sonoran Zone, mainly within the semiarid 
division. An alcoholic specimen recorded from Fort Bliss as col- 
lected by S. W. Crawford may have been incorrectly labeled, for, 
although a great deal of field work has been done in that locality, 
no other specimen has been secured, and the species apparently does 
not now inhabit the El Paso region of the Rio Grande Valley. 

The first discovery of this species in New Mexico was by B. H. 
Dutcher, who collected specimens at Eddy (now Carlsbad) in 1892 
and reported them common over the mesa in that part of the Pecos 
Valley. Later the writer found them common at both Carlsbad and 
Roswell. They seem to be invariably associated with the mesquite, 
which is abundant in the warmer parts of this valley, and it is not 
improbable that they follow the same plant formation somewhat 
farther north than Roswell. 

General habits. — The burrows of these ground squirrels are gen- 
erally situated at the base of mesquite bushes in the open valley, or 
sometimes in the shade of creosote or acacia or even at the edge of 




a cluster of cactus. They are strictly " ground " squirrels, climbing 
only into low bushes for seeds and fruit and depending entirely on 
their burrows for protection. They are shy and usually silent. In 
considerable experience with the species the writer has never heard 
one utter any sound or call note, but like all other species of the 
genus they undoubtedly have a note of warning. 

Food habits. — The sweet pods of mesquite are found scattered 
around their burrows and evidently form one of their staple articles 
of food. They also feed on numerous seeds, grain, fruits, green 
foliage, lizards, and some insects. Their fondness for seeds gets 
them into bad repute with the farmer, as they often gather around 
gardens and grainfields, where they do considerable damage in spring 
by digging up corn, melons, 
beans, and various sprout- 
ing seeds, and in summer 
and fall by feeding on the 
ripening grain. Specimens 
examined at Roswell in 
June were feeding on 
about equal proportions of 
seeds and insects, so there 
is some compensation for 
the harm done. 

Hibernation. — Over most 
of their range the Bio 
Grande ground squirrels 
apparently do not hibernate 
but have the remarkable 
habit of closing their bur- 
rows and remaining inside 
during the coldest weather. 
Several times the writer 
has caught them in what 
he mistook for pocket - 
gopher burrows, but found 
that the single closed ex- 
ternal mound marked the 
entrance of the ground 
squirrel's den. The habit, however, is not thoroughly understood, 
and little is known of the breeding habits or other phases of the life 
history of this species. 

Pale Ground Squikbel 

Citellus tridecemlineatus arenicola Howell, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proe. 41:213, 
December 18, 1928. 

Type. — Collected at Pendennis, Kans., April 22, 1897, by J. Alden Loring. 

General characters. — This small pale form of the 13-lined ground squir- 
rel is recognized by its alternating lines of spots and stripes over the light 
brown back. The six light stripes and five rows of dots are light-buff or cream 
color, in strong contrast to the intervening brown stripes. The underparts 
are white or soiled whitish. 

Measurements. — Adult specimens from the type locality: Total length, 238; 
tail, 77 ; hind foot, 32 millimeters. 

Figure 18. — Distribution of the striped ground 
squirrels in New Mexico : 1, Citellus mexicanus 
parvidens ; 2, C. tridecemlineatus arenicola; 3, 
C. tridecemlineatus hollisteri; 4, O. tridecem- 
lineatus parvus; 5, C. tridecemlineatus alleri. 
Type locality circled 


Distribution and habitat. — These little pale ground squirrels 
(pi. 7, B) of the semiarid great plains region come into New Mexico 
over the Llano Estacado and the plains to the north and west. 
There are specimens from Folsom, Chico, Clayton, and near Texline, 
from 6 miles north of Cabra Spring, from the highest northern point 
of the Staked Plains, the northwest base of the Capitan Mountains 
and near Roswell. They are practically restricted to the treeless 
Upper Sonoran plains. At Koswell they come into the edge of 
the Lower Sonoran Zone and those from the Canadian River Val- 
ley farther east are grading toward texensis. 

General habits. — Over the open short-grass plains where these 
small squirrels abound there is little shelter or protection from 
enemies except what is derived from protective marking. As the 
squirrels stand up in the grass like sticks or picket pins, the fine 
lines of the back blend so perfectly with the grass blades that the 
animals are almost invisible. Indeed, they would rarely be no- 
ticed but for their sharp little trill, which is heard for a consider- 
able distance over the prairie. Their small burrows enter the 
prairie sod at frequent intervals, and while scarcely visible to the 
observer are always conveniently located for the quick disappearance 
of their owners. The runways can often be traced through the 
grass from one burrow to another where the animals visit back and 
forth and explore for food. Sometimes the runways take the form 
of tunnels under the grass, but usually are mere trails worn by long 

Food habits. — Like all ground squirrels they are fond of a great 
variety of seeds, including grains and many of those planted for 
farm crops. They also eat a great many insects, sometimes more 
than any other food. One specimen taken on the highest point of 
the Staked Plains June 17 had its stomach well filled with a variety 
of insects, largely larvae. Grasshoppers are often conspicuous in 
their stomach contents, and it is probable that the good they do in 
keeping down grass-feeding insects partly balances the harm they 
do in destroying vegetation and seeds, but when they enter the 
newly planted fields and dig up the seed of small grain, corn, or 
melons it becomes necessary to take control measures. 

Breeding habits. — The pale ground squirrels are rather prolific 
breeders, as shown by the number of embryos in specimens examined, 
ranging from 6 to 10. Even a larger number may at times be 
produced as the mammae are normally arranged in six pairs, and 
there are records of as high as 14 embryos in the closely related 
tridecemMneatus. Apparently only one litter of young is raised in a 

Hibernation. — These squirrels hibernate rather early and evidently 
for a long period during the cold season. A specimen collected at 
Folsom by A. H. Howell, on August 29, gives the latest date at 
which they are recorded in New Mexico, but it is probable that they 
do not all den up before some time in September. Their date of 
emerging from hibernation is not definitely known, but in this south- 
ern latitude it is probably early — presumably some time in March. 


Little Striped Ground Squirrel 

Spermophilus tridecemlineatus parvus Allen, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 7 : 
337, 1895. 

Type. — Collected at Uncompahgre Indian Reservation, northeastern Utah, 
November 2, 1895, by W. W. Granger. 

General characters. — Smallest of all the striped ground squirrels ; readily 
distinguished from arenicola by smaller size, almost pure-white stripes, and 
rows of spots, and white underparts. The stripes of the back are less continu- 
ous and often broken into a series of overlapping dots. The brown between 
the lines is also duller and has less of a chestnut tone. 

Measurements. — An adult female from the type region in western Colorado 
measures in total length, 196; tail, 66; hind foot, 29 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The little striped ground squirrel occu- 
pies the arid Upper Sonoran Plains of New Mexico west of the Rio 
Grande Valley and north of the Mogollon Mountains. Specimens 
have been examined from the San Augustine Plains and Datil Moun- 
tains; and others from Springerville, Ariz.; Antonito, Colo.; and 
localities farther west that carry its range over the northwestern 
part of New Mexico. A specimen in the National Museum collection 
taken by J. T. Eothrock at Tierra Amarilla, October 1, 1873, is the 
only actual specimen for northern New Mexico, but they are common 
just north of the line at Antonito, Colo., in the southern part of the 
San Luis Valley, and they were described by the Taos Indians, who 
said they were occasionally found near the pueblo. On the high 
plains about 15 miles southwest of Acoma the writer saw one but did 
not succeed in getting it. Some of the localities lie at the edge of 
Transition Zone, but the species apparently belongs to the Upper 
Sonoran, which it completely tills. It is apparently nowhere abun- 
dant or else is so inconspicuous that it is rarely taken or observed. 
Much of the collecting in northwestern New Mexico has also been 
done presumably after hibernation was complete, which in part 
accounts for the meager information concerning the species. Its 
habits are similar to those of arenicola farther east, except that in a 
more arid region it finds less vegetation for cover and is more 
exposed to light and enemies. Its burrows are so small and scattered 
that they are rarely seen, and most of the specimens secured have 
been taken in traps. They are often found on the same ground with 
the Arizona prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus arizonensis) , but 
other than an accidental occurrence in the same kind of country 
there seems to be no association of the two species unless the vacant 
prairie-dog burrows form a convenient means of escape in time of 
danger. On the San Augustine Plains E. A. Goldman picked up one 
at a prairie-dog burrow where he had placed poisoned grain for the 
prairie dog. It was a half -grown young of the year and was lying 
at the entrance of the burrow with 11 kernels of poisoned wheat 
in its cheek pouches. He shot another as it was running along the 
roadside on the plains 15 miles southwest of Monica Spring. The 
voice of these squirrels is rarely heard, but it is a fine trill much like 
that of arenicola. 

Little or nothing is known of the food or breeding habits of the 
little striped ground squirrel. 



Mescalero Ground Squirrel 

Citcllus trideccmlmeatus hoUisteri Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 26: 131, 1913. 

Type. — Collected at Mescalero Indian Reservation, Sacramento Mountains, 
N. Mex. (8,000 feet), September 11, 1902, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — This little dark, brown-backed, striped ground squirrel 
of the Sacramento Mountains is about the size of arenieola but much darker 
colored. The brown of its back is as dark and rich as that of typical 
trideccmlincatus and much darker and richer than alleni. 

Measurements. — The type, an adult female, measures: Total length, 232; 
tail, 70 ; hind foot, 32 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — In the fall of 1902, as Hollister and 
the writer were riding through the open yellow pine forest on 
Penasco Creek, about 12 miles east of Cloudcroft, they first heard 
the characteristic chr-r-r-r-r-r-r of tridecemlineatus along the road- 
side, and later, when crossing the grassy parks of Transition Zone 
on the Mescalero Indian Keservation, this was a common sound, but 
the animals were so shy they could not get sight of one. In the 
beautiful parklike valley known as Elk Park, in the southeastern 
part of the reservation near the Indian sawmill, they found the 
squirrels so common on the bright warm morning of September 11 
that they were able to collect a series of seven specimens. Frosty 
nights had apparently driven the fat old males into hibernation, 
but a few females and many young were still out on warm days filling 
their stomachs with rich seeds and their skins with fat for the 
winter's supply of nourishment. Most of the specimens collected 
were immature and had accumulated but little fat. An adult female 
was obtained that had been nursing young and was late in getting 
in hibernating condition. Marsh hawks were common and scouring 
the parks evidently in search of ground squirrels for breakfast, and 
as they passed low over the earth a series of trills followed the 
course of each and indicated the location of the squirrels. Their 
striped backs rendered them so inconspicuous in the grassy and 
weedy parks that had it not been for their voices the collectors 
probably would have passed them by unnoticed. The warning of 
danger, which they were constantly passing along to one another, 
proved in this case their greatest danger. The species was at once 
recognized as different from any previously described, and the 
writer finds in his catalogue the note " sp. nov." entered at the time 
after the name. 

This squirrel affords a most interesting example of the modifying 
influence of environment on a species. In more than 2,000 miles of 
open plains it shows no appreciable variation, but in the Sacramento 
Mountains in a 50-mile strip of half -forested country with changed 
climatic conditions it has acquired strongly marked characters. Its 
food, both plant and insect, in the mountains is almost totally 
different from that of the plains animals. Here the sweeping prairie 
winds are broken, snow lies deep and late in spring, the earth under 
which hibernation takes place is warmer in winter, the summer cli- 
mate is cooler, and the air more moist at the surface of the ground. 
There is less light and more shadow, the breeding season is probably 
later and the growing period shorter. As a result of this changed 
environment there is the marked change in darker, richer coloration 
of the animals. 


Allen's Geound Squirrel 

Spermophilu-s tridecenilineatus alleni Merriam, Biol. Soe. Wash. Proc. 12: 71, 


Type. — Collected in Bighorn Mountains, Wyo., September 18, 1S93, by Vernon 

General characters. — Described by C. Hart Merriam from 8,000 feet altitude 
on the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming ; in size beween arenicola and parvus but 
darker colored than eitber, while the skull is slenderer and with smaller bullae 
than in parvus. 

Measurements. — The type, an adult male, measures in total length, 211 ; tail, 
74 ; hind foot, 32 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The little dull-colored striped Allen's 
ground squirrel is especially common in Moreno Valley along the 
east side of the Taos Mountains, at Black Lake, and south along the 
yellow pine margin of the Pecos Mountains to near Las Vegas. In 
the Biological Survey collection there are four specimens from 
Moreno Valley, one from 10 miles south of Mora and one from 12 
miles north of Las Vegas, all from the Transition Zone and from 
localities ranging from 7,100 to 8,700 feet altitude. The writer also 
saw them in the vicinity of Black Lake and presumes they have a 
much more extensive range in the mountain parks. In Moreno 
Valley they seem to be fairly common, and specimens were taken 
near Elizabethtown at the northern end and others near Taos Pass 
in the central part of this great open mountain valley. They were 
seen and shot along the roadsides as they ran to their little burrows 
under sagebrush and rabbit brush. The last specimens taken were 
shot on September 20, and after that none were seen, probably be- 
cause they had hibernated. All those taken were very fat and 
evidently ready for winter quarters. 

Only after critical comparison have these specimens been referred 
to alleni, as that species has never been recorded so far south by 
nearly the width of two States. The conditions, zone level, type of 
country, and general environment are very similar to those where the 
type of alleni was taken ; and even if a continuous range can not be 
established there seems no escaping the identity of the specimens, 
especially those from Moreno Valley. A larger series of specimens 
at different seasons may show color differences, but none is shown 
in the present material. 

Black-Tailed Prairie Dog 

Arctomys ludoviciana Ord. Guthrie's Geography, Amer. ed. 2, v. 2, p. 292, 302, 
181*5. (Reprint by S. N. Rhoads, 1894.) 

Type locality. — " Missouri and throughout Louisiana." The Upper Missouri 

General characters. — These prairie dogs are big fat huffy squirrel-like rodents 
with short ears, short legs, and short black-tipped tails. 

Measurements. — Adults weigh 2 to 3 pounds and measure in total length 
about 388 ; tail, 86 ; and hind foot, 62 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Great Plains form of the prairie 
dog occupies the area east of the Pecos River Valley and the Sangre 
de Cristo Mountains, as shown on the accompanying map (fig. 19), 



[No. 53 

but the intergradation with arizonensis is very gradual, and speci- 
mens near the border line may be referred almost as well to one as to 
the other. Though irregularly distributed in colonies over this 
Great Plains area, they may be said to occupy practically all of it, 
although one colony may be miles from another. Some of the 
colonies are extensive, occupying many square miles, while others 
are limited to a few acres or little groups of half a dozen or a 
dozen animals. The spots on the map indicate localities where 
prairie dogs have been collected or reported, but the wide spaces 
between are by no means devoid of them, and only indicate areas 
from which no reports are available. This species occupies mainly 
the Upper Sonoran Zone, but crowds it to the limits or slightly 
beyond, in places into the edges of both the Lower Sonoran and 

Transition Zones. The 
prairie dogs keep to the 
open country, avoiding all 
forested or brushy ground 
and also the bottom lands 
of rank vegetation growth. 
Their habitat is mainly 
short-grass open prairie 
and mesa tops where their 
favorite food is abundant 
and where enemies are 
seen at a distance. Their 
abundance has been greatly 
reduced in certain localities 
through many years of con- 
stant control efforts, but 
while kept down in one lo- 
cality they increase in 

General habits. — These 
big, fat near relatives of 
the ground squirrel are 
among the most sociable 
and friendly of the rodent 
tribe and depend largely 
upon their social organization for their protection from enemies. 
An old and successful prairie-dog town is usually located on 
wide-open and mainly level ground where an unobstructed view is 
to be had on all sides and no enemy can approach without being 
discovered by some watchful sentinel. The burrows are not far 
apart and are always at hand for a quick retreat if danger ap- 
pears. They are home and fortress, and generally each well-com- 
pleted burrow has an elevated rim around the entrance to prevent 
the possible flooding of the underground nest chamber and living 
quarters. The prairie dogs are busy, industrious, and cheerful ; out 
with the first sunlight in the morning. Hundreds of these plump, 
sand-colored little animals scampering about digging up tender grass 
roots, cutting and eating the short grass, or clearing away the larger 
plants that obstruct the view, and even running and playing for 
mere sport, produce an animated picture of wild life. But let an 

Figure 19. — Distribution of the prairie dogs in 
New Mexico: 1, Gynomys ludovicianus ludovid- 
anus; 2, C. ludovicianus arizonensis; 3, C. 
gunnisoni gunnisoni ' ; 4, G. gunnisoni suniensis. 
Type locality circled 



enemy appear and the picture quickly changes. The first prairie dog 
to make the discovery sets up a frantic barking or chattering, which 
at once arrests the attention of every one within hearing, and all are 
on guard against the danger. Some rush for the burrows, others 
straighten up on their haunches or hind feet at full length to discover 
and study the danger. The barking is taken up by others and con- 
tinued as long as danger threatens, and when one animal becomes 
panic-stricken and takes to his burrow, others take up the alarm 
until the last prairie dog has been frightened below the surface. Then 
all remains quiet until the man or coyote or whatever the enemy may 
be has passed well beyond. Sometimes they will not reappear for 
an hour, but usually after half an hour of quiet they poke their 
noses cautiously above the surface and with great care inspect the 
surrounding country for any remaining traces of the enemy. A few 
reassuring barks here and there from the leaders and the prairie-dog 
town is again as populous and active as ever. They are strictly 
diurnal and generally most active during the morning and evening 
hours when the two prolonged meals of the day are being obtained, 
but in a well-regulated and populous dog town some are commonly 
seen moving about at all times of day. Even during the midday 
rest hours a few are likely to be busy with some needed repairs on 
their mounds, searching for dainty bits of food, or sitting or lying 
quietly on guard, so that in pleasant summer weather a totally 
deserted village is rarely seen. 

The voice of these prairie dogs is somewhat between the shrill 
whistle of the marmot and the rapid trill of the prairie ground 
squirrels, being a continual nasal yap, yap, yap, repeated at one or 
two second intervals with greater or less energy as the occasion war- 
rants, each syllable accompanied by a flip of the tail. Occasionally a 
prolonged chrrrr is heard, as one stretches to its full height and 
runs all of its notes into one long cry. Many little chirps and 
chuckles are occasionally heard at closer quarters, and a deep gurgle 
often comes up from below as the prairie dog retreats to the depths 
of his den. 

Their little short legs prevent them from running very fast, but 
the long front claws make them sturdy diggers of deep and long- 
burrows, though usually these have but one entrance. Old burrows 
that have been used for many generations can be distinguished by the 
greater accumulation of earth around the entrance and by the 
broader rim that slopes farther back than in the case of newer 

Food habits. — Though highly specialized vegetarian rodents, the 
prairie dogs live so extensively upon the short rich grasses that they 
might almost be called grazing animals. Blades and stems and 
especially the basal portion of the low grass plants form most of their 
food, but many are dug up and devoured root and branch. In the 
more arid part of their range the ground thus cleared of its vegeta- 
tion often remains bare, and in a dry season when plant growth has 
been greatly restricted by lack of moisture extensive areas are 
entirely denuded of every trace of vegetation so that the prairie 
dogs are forced to go to considerable distance from their burrows to 
procure a food supply. In normal times when plant growth is more 
rapid the new growth keeps them well supplied with fresh food 


close to their dens. They are hearty eaters, and their large stomachs 
are usually found distended to the limit of their capacity with finely 
masticated vegetation. The drain thus put upon the grazing capacity 
of land occupied by numerous prairie-dog towns has been variously 
estimated at 50 to 75 per cent of its value for stock. It is little won- 
der therefore that the stockmen consider prairie dogs one of their 
greatest enemies and use every possible means to destroy them. 

Breeding habits. — Commonly in May four or five young are 
brought forth in the burrows, and early in June families of less than 
half -grown young begin to appear at the surface. For a long time 
the mother prairie dog is so solicitous for their safety that she is 
always watching for enemies. At her first word of warning the 
young rush for the burrow and either disappear without a moment's 
hesitation or pause and, standing erect in a little circle around the 
entrance, wait for the final word to dive to the soft nest below. The 
English equivalent of the final word that sends them head foremost 
below remains to be given, but it is always effective and until the 
young are well grown, parental authority is well obeyed. Families 
of small young are sometimes seen as late as the latter part of 
July, but that may not signify a second litter. More probably 
they are the first litter of last year's females, which in many species 
do not breed so early as the older individuals. 

Hibernation. — In the northern part of the range of this species 
hibernation continues through all the long cold winter months, but 
in the southern part of its range, including eastern New Mexico, the 
dormant period is not so long or regular, but does include apparently 
three or four months of the coldest weather, while in the higher 
levels of its range the period may extend for considerably longer. 
Late in autumn the animals become excessively fat, so that hiberna- 
tion is possible whenever a cold day comes. 

Economic status. — The actual numbers of individuals on a given 
area can be counted or closely estimated in the smaller colonies, but 
the irregularity of distribution renders it impossible to give any 
adequate idea of the numbers over a wide area. Their numbers 
quickly run into the millions, however, and with the oft-repeated 
estimate of grass consumed by 32 prairie dogs equalling that required 
by one sheep and of 256 prairie dogs equaling that required 
by one cow, the loss sustained on the cattle and sheep ranges of New 
Mexico through devastation by prairie dogs is enormous. It has 
been estimated that this is spread over 6,000,000 acres of choice 
grazing land. But for natural enemies the increase of the prairie 
dog would be overwhelming. Badgers, coyotes, black-footed ferrets, 
eagles, and most of the larger hawks are preying upon them con- 
stantly throughout their active period, but the badger and the black- 
footed ferret are their chief enemies. The badger with its powerful 
claws quickly enlarges the burrows of the prairie dogs and feasts on 
the occupants, while the black-footed ferret runs in and out of their 
burrows at will and kills to its heart's content so long as a prairie 
dog can be found. The black-footed ferrets are rare, but the badgers 
are common wherever prairie dogs are found. These enemies, how- 
ever, serve only to check the natural increase of the prairie dogs, 
and to reduce their numbers and free the range from their devasta- 


tion artificial methods are necessary. Circulars and formulas giving 
directions for the best methods of destroying prairie dogs have been 
prepared by the Bureau of Biological Survey. 

Arizona Prairie Dog 
Cynomys arizonensis Mearns, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 2: 305, 1890. 

Type. — Collected at Point of Mountain, near Willcox, Ariz., May 3, 1885, by 
E. A. Mearns. 

General characters. — This subspecies is distinguished from ludovicianus by 
slightly longer tail and brighter coloration, in addition to obscure cranial 

Measurements. — Average of adult males : Total length. 388 ; tail, 89 ; hind 
foot, 62 millimeters. (Hollister, 1916, p. 20.) Weight, 2 pounds to 2 pounds 
and 8 ounces. 

Distribution and habitat. — As indicated on the accompanying map 
(fig. 19), the Arizona prairie dog ranges over the southern part 
of New Mexico west of the Pecos Valley. Though some of the 
colonies are in the edge of the Lower Sonoran Zone and others in 
the edge of the Transition Zone, the range is mainly Upper Sonoran. 
On the mesa tops colonies are often found among the scattered juni- 
per and nut pine growth, but the characteristic habitat and the short- 
grass slopes of the open valley sides are their favorite situations. 
Many of the colonies are in typical desert environment, which gives 
some peculiarities of habit not shared by the better-fed relatives of 
the grassy plains. In the Pecos Valley in 1899 prairie dogs were 
found abundant at frequent intervals from Portales to Roswell, down 
the valley to Carlsbad, and southward into Texas; also from Ros- 
well west to the Capitan Mountains in numerous and extensive col- 
onies. Two years later they were equally numerous in a line from 
Carlsbad west over the top of the Guadalupe Mountains and out for 
35 miles east of Carlsbad to the edge of the Staked Plains. The 
following year they were found at frequent intervals over the plateau 
top and eastern slopes of the Guadalupe and the Sacramento and 
White Mountains, and Hollister reported them in abundance from 
Roswell all the way up the Pecos Valley to Santa Rosa. In May, 
1903, the writer found them abundant in colonies all around Santa 
Rosa, a few in the edge of town, a large colony covering 200 or 300 
acres near his camp at the wells east of town, and others a short 
distance to the north and west. Gaut reported them as in great 
numbers over the half-timbered mesa south of the Capitan Moun- 
tains, where they were doing considerable damage to the ranch crops. 
He also reported them along the eastern slopes of the Manzano 
Mountains and at localities on both slopes of the San Andres Moun- 
tains farther south. In 1892 Streator reported an extensive prairie- 
dog town about 3 miles south of Silver City, where in November 
and December the animals were apparently in a starving condition 
and feeding mainly on cactus. In August, 1908, on a trip from Dem- 
ing to Hachita and through the Playas and Animas Valleys the 
writer found the prairie dogs numerous in many localities, especially 
along the elevated and more open margins of the valleys, but exten- 
sive colonies were also seen in the bottoms of these great desert 


valleys. Animas Valley was an almost continuous prairie-dog town 
for its whole length and breadth. In many places where rain had 
missed a part of the valley the prairie dogs had taken all the season's 
vegetation and had made barren deserts miles in extent. 

Ten prairie dogs to an acre were estimated as a fair allowance for 
their numbers in the colonies, and apparently these colonies covered 
at least a third of Grant County, or approximately 1,000 square 
miles, which would give 6,400,000 prairie dogs to one county. This 
is but a rough estimate of their actual numbers, but may give some 
idea of the abundance of these animals in a region where the rainfall 
is very light and plant growth slow and uncertain. Extensive colon- 
ies were also found on the south, east, and west of Silver City and 
throughout the Gila Valley, at Cliff, along Duck Creek Valley and 
on Cactus Flat between the Gila and San Francisco Rivers, which 
marks the northern edge of their range in this section. In the vicin- 
ity of Lake Valley, E. A. Goldman found them in scattered colonies 
to the south and east and reaching in one place 8 miles north of the 
town. Most of this country is characterized by more or less desert 
vegetation, such as cactus, Spanish-bayonet, and mesquite, and in 
places an abundance of low grama and other grasses. 

General habits. — In habits these prairie dogs do not differ from 
the typical species, except in degree of adaptation to their more arid 
environment. Their burrows are the same, with the same craterlike 
rims to prevent violent rains from running down and filling them 
up at every cloudburst. 

In this arid region one is usually struck by the extreme bareness 
of the prairie-dog towns, for the vegetation has been killed out for 
a considerable distance from the burrows. In places the distance 
from the burrows to the grassland has become too great for safety to 
the animals, and the towns have been abandoned and new pastures 
sought by the colonies. It is often necessary in the arid regions for 
the prairie dogs to adapt themselves to unusual kinds of food, such 
as cactus, and the bark of mesquite and other available bushes grow- 
ing within reach of their homes. Greater activity on the part of the 
animals is necessary in obtaining a food supply, and the colonies are 
often more open and scattered. 

Breeding habits. — The small young begin to appear about the 
burrows in early June, and at Santa Rosa, in 1910, Lantz found the 
first family of young in May, but the first that the writer saw in 
1903 in the same locality were two families of young on June 4. The 
mammae of the females are arranged in 4 pairs, usually given as 1 
pair of inguinal, 1 abdominal, and 2 pectoral, but perhaps more 
properly classed as 2 pairs of abdominal and 2 of pectoral. The 
abdominal and pectoral mammary glands are separated and distinct 
on each side, making four large mammary glands each bearing two 
nipples. The usual number of young seems to be 4, but the number 
varies, and the 5 or 6 young often seen around the entrance of one 
burrow probably represent but a single family. There is no direct 
evidence to show whether more than one litter of young is raised in 
a season. 

Hibernation. — There seem to be few data as to the hibernation of 
these southern prairie dogs. Streator collected specimens a little 
south of Silver City on December 1 and 4, 1892, and Gaut found them 


active along the east slope of the San Andres Mountains in January, 
1903, but uninhabited prairie-dog towns, which he reported a little 
farther north in November and December, suggest that the animals 
may have been hibernating in those colonies. In other places where 
they range higher in the mountains and in localities where there is 
considerable snow they undoubtedly den up during part of the winter. 
Specimens collected in November, 1906, on Cactus Flat and along 
Duck Creek north of the Gila were very fat and in full long silky 
winter fur, but the weather was still mild and they were getting an 
abundance of green vegetation with which their stomachs were well 
filled. The writer estimated that each of these animals would yield 
a pint of oil, and they were certainly in good condition for a long 
period of hibernation. 

Economic status. — In this arid section of the State, where vegeta- 
tion is thinly scattered, a thousand prairie dogs require as much grass 
as in regions where it is more abundant. The colonies are generally 
in the best grazing localities, and in many places on the stock range 
the grass has been greatly thinned or entirely destroyed over miles 
of country. Where the prairie dogs are forced to move to new 
pastures the old prairie-dog towns grow up to worthless weeds or 
equally worthless foxtail grass, which furnishes forage for neither 
prairie dogs nor cattle. As prairie dogs of one species or another are 
abundant over most of the State, the total loss from their ravages on 
the stock range is enormous. Though their rapid increase is checked 
by natural enemies, chief of which are the badgers, coyotes, eagles, 
and large hawks, the reduction of their present numbers can only be 
accomplished through artificial means. Economical methods of con- 
trol have been thoroughly worked out by the Biological Survey and 
demonstrated in many localities. 

Gunnison's Prairie Dog; Ke'oo una of the Taos Indians 
Spermophilus gunnisxmi Baird, Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. Proc. 7: 334, 1855. 

Type. — Collected at Cochetopa Pass, Colo., September, 1863, by F. Kreutz- 
feldt, under Captain J. W. Gunnison. 

General characters. — In size Gunnison's is slightly smaller than the black- 
tailed prairie dog, its tail is relatively shorter without distinct black tip, and 
its coloration slightly paler buff. 

Measurements. — Average of adult males : Total length, 340 ; tail, 53 ; hind 
foot, 56 millimeters. An adult male collected September 6 in the Jemez 
Mountains weighed iy 2 pounds. 

Distribution and habitat. — The typical form of Gunnison's prairie 
dog occupies the high plateau country of southern Colorado and 
northern New Mexico, including the Sangre de Cristo, San Juan, and 
Jemez Mountain Ranges. (Fig. 19.) Here they occupy the ele- 
vated open valleys mainly in the Transition Zone, but extending often 
into the Canadian Zone parks and in places down even to the Upper 
Sonoran valleys. In the Sangre de Cristo Mountains they were 
found abundant throughout the Moreno Valley, around Black Lake, 
and down the Guadalupita on Coyote Creek, and A. H. Howell 
found a large colony occupying the open parks at the summit of 
Costilla Pass at 10,000 feet. Along Comanche Creek and upper 
Costilla River valleys, the lower Costilla Valley, and out across the 


Rio Grande Plain along the Colorado-New Mexico line, they were 
found in many localities and also in the Rio Grande Valley about 
Taos, Tres Piedras, and all along the east slope of the San Juan 
Range up to 9,700 feet; west of the San Juan Mountains they were 
again found in scattered colonies in the valley below Tierra Amarilla, 
at Chama and Navajo, and over the Jicarilla Indian Reservation. 
Farther south they were abundant throughout the Gallinas and 
Jemez Mountain region, occupying the open parks up to at least 
9,500 feet and extending down into the valleys around the mountains 
down to Coyote at 7,000 feet and along the Chama River Valley 
even to near Espanola. They are generally scattered over the open 
country, but are often numerous in one park and scarce or wanting 
in another, their numbers, and distribution seeming to depend on the 
success and increase of each of the colonial units. At the lower 
western and southern edge of their range they grade imperceptibly 
into the slightly marked subspecies zuniensis of the western part of 
the State. 

General habits. — These prairie dogs of the white-tailed group dif- 
fer considerably from the black-tailed species, and are readily recog- 
nized as distinct in both form and habits. They are less closely colo- 
nial, and occasionally scattered individuals are found apparently liv- 
ing by themselves or starting new colonies, while the general prairie- 
dog towns are less compact and indicate less of the community spirit. 
The burrows are also noticeably different, the earth being thrown 
out commonly on one side and. left there without an attempt to 
build up a waterproof rim around the entrance. It usually lies in 
a mound at the side of the burrow and serves the purpose of a 
signal tower, as in the other species. Living in a rougher, elevated, 
and sloping country these prairie dogs have evidently not felt the 
need of protection against the flooding of their burrows bv heavy 

The voice and especially the barking note is slightly different from 
that of the black-tailed species, but not different enough for easy 
recognition. The lack of the conspicuous black tip of the tail as 
the animals sit barking by their burrows is noticeable at the distance 
at which they are generally seen, as are also the paler color and the 
more conspicuous black mark over the eye. To the experienced 
observer it is not difficult to distinguish the species in passing through 
a prairie-dog town, but to the uninitiated no difference would be 
noticed among any of the prairie dogs. The Gunnison form is less 
restricted to open country than is the black-tailed species, and often 
small colonies or individuals are scattered through the sagebrush 
and among the juniper trees where skulking animals might easily 
take them unawares. In this habit they are more individual, more 
like the closely related ground squirrels, and apparently less highly 
specialized for social protection. 

Food habits. — The food of Gunnison's prairie dog consists mainly 
of grasses and other small plants that they cut or dig up around 
their burrows. They do a great deal of digging and apparently 
unearth some bulbs or the roots of plants that are favorite foods, 
but the bulk of their forage is the little short grama and other 
grasses, which constitute the choicest cattle range. These grasses 


are eaten top and bottom and often entirely destroyed over consid- 
erable areas within their reach. 

Breeding habits. — In this group of prairie dogs the mammae are 
normally in five pairs, arranged in 1 pair of inguinal, 2 pairs of 
abdominal, and 2 pairs of pectoral. The young are usually five in 
number, but there are few records on which to base an average. 

Hibernation. — In much of the high country where these prairie 
dogs live the winters are long and the snow deep, and they apparently 
hibernate for a great part of the winter. Specimens collected at 
9,000 feet on October 9 were very fat and in good winter fur, but had 
been showing no signs of hibernating. In 1903, Surber reported 
the last seen in colonies near Taos about the first of December, but as 
the winter was unusually warm, this was considered a late date for 
them to disappear. He was told that generally in that region no 
prairie dogs were seen during the winter months, or after the first 
cold weather had set in. The time at which they emerge from hiber- 
nation is not known. 

Economic status. — It is unfortunate that these good-natured, soci- 
able, interesting little animals should conflict with man's interests, 
but so long as they insist on feeding upon the best range grasses the 
practical question is at once raised of the relative value of 32 prairie 
dogs to one sheep, or 256 prairie dogs to one cow. (Merriam, 1902, 
p. 258.) When the number of prairie dogs runs into the millions the 
reduction of carrying power of the range for domestic stock is a 
serious matter ; so serious indeed that many thousands of dollars are 
expended yearly by the ranchmen in efforts to rid the range of this 
unprofitable grade of stock. 


Zuni Prairie Dog ; Glo-un of the Navajo Indians ; Dirk'quar of the Moki 

Indians (Fisher) 

Cynomys gunnisoni zuniensis Hollister, North Amer. Fauna No. 40, p. 32, 1916. 

Type.— Collected at Wingate, N. Mex., June 26, 1905, by N. Hollister. 

General characters. — Similar to gunnisoni but slightly larger, brighter, and 
more cinnamon in color. 

Measurements. — Adult male : Total length, 363 ; tail, 53 ; hind foot, 60 milli- 
meters. Weight of adult male, 2 pounds. 

Distribution and habitat. — Northwestern New Mexico, southwest- 
ern Colorado, and northern Arizona. In New Mexico the greater 
part of the range of this species lies in the Upper Sonoran Zone west 
of the Jemez and north of the Mogollon Mountains, but it also extends 
into the Rio Grande Valley at Albuquerque and south along the 
western side of the valley to Fair view. (Fig. 19.) Specimens have 
been taken in the Sandia Mountains near San Pedro and near Pecos 
on the upper Pecos River, actually on the same ground with the 
black-tailed prairie dogs, but throughout nearly the length of the 
State these two distinct species usually keep slightly apart. 

General habits. — In habits the Zuni prairie dog does not differ 
from typical gunnisoni, except as the animals occupy more open and 
level country over the great arid plains of the western part of the 
State. In the more level country there is often an ill- defined rim 
encircling the burrow sufficient to keep out a moderate quantity of 


flood water, but in many cases the earth is all thrown out on one side 
without giving any real protection from floods. Over most of their 
range there is no permanent water within reach of the prairie-dog 
towns, and in dry periods they must be forced to go for months with- 
out a drink, but this does not seem to trouble them in the least, 
although after a shower they are often seen drinking at the little 
pools, and their tracks show on the muddy margins of any available 
water holes. The old theory that prairie dogs dig wells to a subter- 
ranean water supply has been proved to be without foundation. 
At Albuquerque, where they were numerous over the dry mesa, it 
would have been necessary for them to go 250 feet to water, and in 
many localities they would have to sink their wells much farther 
and through solid rock. The juice of their green food and occasion- 
ally of cactus and other plants enables them to keep up the necessary 
supply of moisture for their bodies. 

Along the Rio Grande, where the country has been thickly settled 
for centuries, the prairie dogs are less numerous and live mainly in 
small and scattered colonies, but back over the wide stretches of 
unoccupied grazing lands to the west they are often numerous, living 
in extensive prairie dog towns or scattered groups. Near the Navajo 
Indian settlements they are generally scarce and very shy, owing 
apparently to the fact that they have long been counted an important 
source of food supply by these people. At Wingate, in 1905, Hollis- 
ter found them the most abundant and conspicuous mammals of the 
whole region; the Puerco Valley was covered with their burrows, 
and they were plentiful in every mountain park, while over the Zuni 
Mountains they were scattered everywhere, chiefly in open parks and 
valleys in populous and noisy colonies. He also found them abun- 
dant from Laguna to Magdalena. In the big valley surrounding the 
Pueblo of Zuni in 1908 the writer found them scattered in more or 
less well-defined colonies where they were doing some mischief in the 
Indian fields and occasionally burrowing into the banks of the newly 
made irrigation ditches. Over the Quemado Valley still farther 
south they were equally abundant and in the same scattered formation 
of small groups or extensive colonies. Over the San Augustine Plain 
and through the Datil and the northern part of the Mogollon Moun- 
tains E. A. Goldman and Ned Hollister reported them as always 
present in varying numbers, and in many places extremely injurious 
to the stock range. At Fairview, in 1909, Goldman found them 
abundant and generally distributed throughout the valley and over 
the bordering hill slopes, although they were reported to have 
appeared there only five years prior to that time. The cattlemen 
estimated that over considerable areas they had eaten or destroyed 
at least half of the forage. Over the Chuska Mountains in the 
northwestern corner of the State the writer found them common 
locally over the whole range of the great mountain plateau, usually 
in grassy parks at altitudes ranging up to 9,000 feet. In some of 
these colonies, however, they were scarce and the ground showed 
evidence of their having been dug out by the Indians or dro vviied out 
of their burrows with streams of water turned into them from the 
neighboring creeks or springs. Numerous colonies were also found 
in crossing the arid plains of the San Juan Valley. 


During October the prairie dogs were fat and sleepy and their 
long fur looked fuzzy and warm, as if they were ready for cold 
weather. Their burrows were constantly being dug out by badgers 
and in many places also by the Navajo Indians, and many little 
ditches were seen leading to their burrows, showing where the Nava- 
jos had forced them out with water. The Navajo Indians have 
always been great hunters, and now that larger game is scarce, they 
make excursions especially for prairie dogs. At Fruitland, Clarence 
Birdseye reported them coming in from the country on the north 
side of the valley loaded down with these fat little delicacies for the 
family fare. Some of the colonies had been almost exterminated 
in this way. 

Food habits. — Grass seems to be the main source of food supply 
for this species as with other prairie dogs, but in autumn they seem 
especially partial to the grass heads, which contain an abundance 
of ripening seeds. Along the Alamosa River E. A. Goldman shot 
several whose pouches contained fragments of the heads of grama 
grass (Bouteloua oligostachya) and other grasses such as Afunroa 
squarrosa and also a few seeds of the wild sunflowers (Verbesina 
encelioides). He reported also many plants and small shrubs cut 
down by the prairie dogs near their burrows, but probably to clear 
the view rather than serve as food. Two prairie dogs, which were 
shot for specimens in the Chuska Mountains in October, were very 
fat, and their stomachs were distended mainly with finely masti- 
cated grass, but contained also a large proportion of seeds of grass 
and other green plants. Another shot for a specimen on September 
28 south of Acoma was moderately fat, and the stomach contents 
were largely seeds and heads of grama and other grasses and some 
other plants, parts of which also were carried in the cheek pouches. 
In most cases the prairie dogs find food abundant, but in dry seasons 
they are sometimes obliged to abandon a locality and move on to 
places where a fresh supply of grass can be obtained. 

Breeding habits. — The arrangement and number of mammae in this 
species are the same as in typical gunnisoni, and the number of young 
is undoubtedly the same, varying from four to six. Near Reserve 
at 8,000 feet in western Socorro County J. S. Ligon reports the 
first prairie dog seen out of winter quarters on March 4, 1915; on 
March 12 many were seen and by the 20th apparently all were out. 
On March 30 they appeared to be in the midst of breeding activity, 
the males fighting and chasing one another in great excitement, and 
a female killed on May 4 contained four well-grown embryos. 
Groups of five and six small young are often seen running to a single 
burrow, where they disappear or sit up for a moment to watch an 
intruder. On the mesa near Albuquerque late in June, 1889, the 
writer found numerous families of young about the burrows, and at 
that time they were about half grown and were digging grass for 
themselves and, although they were still in family groups, were 
raplfcUy dispensing with parental care. 

Hibernation. — In the San Juan Valley after the middle of October, 
1908, the raw, windy days and cold nights with often half an inch of 
ice in the mornings kept the prairie dogs well out of sight until the 
wind went down and, for a short time, the sun shone warmly, when 

64909°— 32 9 


they would go out and dig for grass roots and fix up their burrows 
for winter; but they were fat and furry and worked in a slow, 
sleepy manner. They were evidently on the verge of hibernation 
and needed only a cold snap to send them to bed for the winter. 
In the mountain regions from 7,000 to 8,500 feet altitude J. S. Ligon 
reports that the prairie dogs go in about November 1 and do not 
come out again before about March 10, while at higher elevations 
they sometimes remain denned up under deep snow five or six months 
of the year. In the spring of 1915 he reported that they all came out 
about March 15, even though they had to scratch out through 6 or 8 
inches of snow. At their appearance they were in most cases fairly 
fat. In November, 1914, Ligon dug into a number of prairie-dog 
burrows to learn more in regard to the hibernation of the animals, 
but unfortunately the burrows selected were not occupied at that 
time. He found the burrows with a number of branches below the 
surface of the ground and at the ends of some of these branches in 
excavated pockets he found grass nests. Some of the branch burrows 
extended only a short distance, while others made circles and came 
back to the main burrow, and they were arranged in a great variety 
of positions and angles from perpendicular to horizontal. Many of 
the side branches and even some of the nest holes were filled with 
loose earth, which in some cases seemed to be used as doors to close 
the burrow behind the occupant. Sometimes it was necessary for the 
prairie dog to dig through several feet of loose earth to reach a safe 
nest. One of the objects in digging into these burrows was to find if 
stores of food were laid up for winter use, but as none was discovered 
it was evident that they had either been used or had been deposited 
in other burrows. Unfortunately Ligon does not give the depth or 
length of any of these burrows, but in the Chuska Mountains, where 
the Indians had dug out the prairie dogs for food, the holes commonly 
extended 10 or 15 feet and in some cases 20 feet from the entrance, 
but usually they were so filled up with loose earth that it was diffi- 
cult to say how deep they had gone. Apparently, however, in most 
cases they reach a depth of 6 to 8 feet. 

Economic status. — Among the Navajo Indians the Zuni prairie 
dogs have considerable value as game and food. Their furry coats, 
if collected when prime, might be made into useful clothing, as the 
fur is soft, although not very dense, and the skins are strong and 
durable. The small size of the skins, however, seems to prohibit 
their use as fur in the present fur market. 

When taken young and well tamed prairie dogs are said to make 
delightful pets for children, and this might give them a real value 
and fill a long-felt need. On the other hand, their great abundance 
and the extent of country over which they abound renders them 
one of the most injurious of rodent pests. (Taylor and Loftfield, 
1924.) The cattlemen estimate that over considerable areas the 
prairie dogs eat or destroy at least half of the grass and on the public 
range, where it is no one's special business to kill them, they j^old 
their own and continue almost to hold the range. As new farms are 
opened in valleys where they abound, the crops are often seriously 
damaged before they can be controlled. The following extract of a 
letter from John McDermott, of Laplata, San Juan County, in 


August, 1888, gives a fair idea of what the pioneer has to contend 
with on prairie-dog range : 

I wish to ask your advice as to the best way for stopping the ravages of 
prairie dogs. They have damaged my crops over $1250 this season and in spite 
of all I could do to fight them. I have tried strychnine with wheat and corn, 
phosphorized wheat, and Paris green and bran. With strychnine I killed a 
few in late fall and early spring, but when there is anything green to be had 
they will not touch it. Drowning them by running water into their holes is 
the only successful method I have found, but it is both slow and costly, as 
their runways are often so long under ground as to take from one-half hour 
to an hour to fill a hole with water. Bisulphide of carbon is impracticable here 
from its cost. The dealers in our nearest town charge 75 cents per pound for 
it. Some of my neighbors have suffered even worse than I have, and the dogs 
seem to be increasing in spite of us. 

In the course of time, however, it is always possible for the ranch- 
man to clear his fields of prairie dogs, though often at considerable 
expense, but on the stock range they still flourish and will until con- 
certed action wipes them out over extensive areas so that they will 
not quickly return. 


Dusky Marmot ; Woodchuck ; Rockchuck ; Pean-che-hah'n&. of the 

Taos Indians 

Marmota flaviventer obscura Howell, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 27: 16, 1914. 

Type. — Collected at west base of Wheeler Peak, 5 miles south of Twining, 
N. Mex., at 11,300 feet altitude. July 4, 1904, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — A large, dark, grizzled-brown woodchuck, with long, 
bushy, dark-brown or blackish tail. 

Measurements. — Average total length, 655 ; tail, 204 ; hind foot, 91 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Dusky marmots are common in the 
higher mountains of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, 
mainly in the Hudsonian Zone. There are specimens from Pecos 
Baldy, Truchas Peak, "Wheeler Peak, and Agua Fria Peak. In the 
Pecos Kiver Mountains in August, 1903, they were common from a 
little below timber line at 11,400 feet to the highest peaks in that 
range or throughout the Hudsonian and even into Arctic-Alpine Zone. 
On the top of Truchas Peak at 13,300 feet one had dug a burrow 
under the triangulation monument, and whistled at observers from 
the rocks only a little below. In the Taos Mountains in August of 
the following year marmots were also abundant throughout the 
Hudsonian Zone from 11,000 feet up to extreme timber line, and a 
few old signs were seen on the very top of Wheeler Peak at 13,600 
feet. Apparently no woodchucks are known in the low country of 
New Mexico. 18 

General habits. — In the Taos Mountains from a 11,400-foot camp 
at the west base of Wheeler Peak the loud characteristic whistle 
could be heard from the cliffs across the little lake, from the great 

18 A. H. Howell (1915, p. 55) in his monograph of the genus in North America, says: 
" Several lower jaws and fragments of crania, found in a cave on the Manzano Mountains 
by Archibald Rea, and broken pieces of a skull secured by Dr. Walter Hough from a 
cave near the Tularosa River near Old Fort Tularosa [in the Mosjollon Mountains] 
indicate the former occurrence of this species in those ranges. The jaws from the Man- 
zano Mountains agree essentially with recent material, but the fragment from the Tularosa 
River is not specifically identifiable." 

A skin obtained at Santa Fe in 1874 by H. C. Yarrow and recorded in the Wheeler 
survey (Coues and Yarrow, 1875, p. 123), undoubtedly came from the Pecos Mountains. 


terminal moraine back of camp, and more frequently from the long 
rock slides on the opposite slope high up on the side of the peak. 
Occasionally one would come down from the rocks and run along 
the edge of the lake, where afterwards fresh tracks on the muddy 
shore were seen. In the Pecos River Mountains at the 11,600-foot 
camp on the side of Pecos Baldy one lived in a little cave in the 
rocks close to camp and grew tame enough to let the writer pass 
within 25 or 30 feet in going to the creek for water. He was careful 
not to alarm the animal, as neighbors at that altitude were rare, 
and while specimens were needed, they could be found farther 
from camp. The furry neighbor, however, ignorant of the good 
intentions, after a few days moved over to the big rock slide 
across the small lake. In most places the marmots were as wild as 
deer and it was often difficult to get within rifle range of one. A 
warning chirp from the cliff above would set all within hearing to 
rushing over the rocks for their dens, and they moved surprisingly 
fast for such clumsy-looking animals. In one place a family of 6— 
2 old ones and 4 half -grown young — after reaching their home in the 
rocks chirped for a long time. Often, however, they disappear 
almost as quickly as they discover you, and the cause is evident. 
Idle campers and would-be sportsmen try their rifles just for fun on 
every woodchuck they can get sight of, often leaving them crippled or 
dead where shot. It is little wonder that pursued by man and natu- 
ral enemies, the woodchucks make their homes in the steep mountain 
slopes or hide in the safe retreat of seams and crevices of broken 
cliffs or the great slopes of talus, where they can be comparatively 
safe under the fathomless piles of broken rock. Sometimes they 
burrow under big bowlders out in the parks and meadows, where rich 
mountain vegetation affords an ample supply of choice food, and in 
some places they make fairly well-beaten trails from one bowlder 
den to another or across the meadow grass. 

Food habits. — The food of the marmots consists entirely of green 
vegetation, and the stomachs of those collected for specimens were 
found distended with a great variety of plants so finely chewed that 
they could not be identified, although the color and texture of the 
different parts of the stomach contents indicated everything in sight, 
from bright-green grass to masses of yellow sedum, the heads of little 
pink clovers, and other colored flowers, together with the ripening 
seeds of many plants. Even by the middle of August the adults 
were beginning to lay on a store of fat for the long winter sleep, 
while the half-grown young were doing their best to grow up and 
get fat at the same time. 

Breeding habits. — One old female that the writer collected near 
Truchas Peak on August 14 was with a family of half -grown young 
in the rock slide, but he could not be sure of the number of young. 
Apparently there were four or five in sight at a time. Her mammae, 
which had all been in use that season, were arranged in 5 pairs — 1 
pair of inguinal, 2 pairs of abdominal, and 2 pairs of pectoral. It is 
probable, therefore, that five young is about the minimum size of the 

Hibernation. — At Twining, in 1903, Surber reported marmots 
numerous in the vicinity and beginning their hibernation around the 
bases of the peaks about the 1st of October, but he said that they did 
not hibernate at the tops of the peaks for almost a month later. This 


probably means merely that the old ones, which became fat early, 
went into winter quarters as soon as they had accumulated their store 
of fat, while the younger animals, as is usual with this group and 
many of the ground squirrels, remain active as long as possible to 
accumulate enough fat to carry them through the winter, and do not 
enter their winter dens until actually forced to by the cold weather. 
An interesting note on the hibernation of this species of woodchuck 
at Ophir, Colo., was made by S. E. Osborn. The animal was found in 
midwinter in the Silver Mountain Tunnel, where, Osborn says 
(1892), he- 
had packed in grass for a nest, and taken up his winter quarters. He was 
rolled up like a ball, with his fore paws over his eyes ; we pulled his paws away, 
and his eyes were closed ; all efforts to awaken him were futile, he would yawn 
like a boy that had been disturbed when sleeping soundly, return his paws to 
his eyes, and curl himself up in his original position. 

At the high altitudes where these animals live there are few observ- 
ers at the time when they come out of hibernation in spring and no 
records to show just when they appear, but it is a long sleep between 
the 1st of October and the time when any bare ground can be found 
around these peaks. 

Family MURIDAE: Old-World Rats and Mice 
Brown Rat; Wharf Rat 
[Hus] norvegwus Erxleben, Syst. Regni Anim. 1 : 381, 1777. 

Type locality. — Norway. 

General cliaraoteis. — The nose of the brown rat is long and pointed, the 
ears are narrow, the tail long and tapering, half naked and scaly, the fur 
thin and coarse, and the color buffy brownish above, soiled whitish below. 

Measurements. — A medium-sized adult male measures in total length, 455; 
tail, 210 ; hind foot, 44 millimeters, and weighs about a pound. 

Distribution and habitat. — Introduced in the colonial days about 
1775 from Europe, wharf rats have found their way over most of 
the settled parts of this country, except the arid desert regions. 
Woodhouse (1854, p. 48) reported them as found throughout all the 
white settlements of New Mexico in 1851. In 1889 the writer found 
them common at Albuquerque, in the Rio Grande Valley, and in 
1902 Gaut reported them common at Santa Rosa, in the Pecos Valley. 
It is probable that they are found at most, if not all, of the railroad 
towns in the State, but fortunately in this arid region they do not 
spread far into the country, and many extensive areas seem to be 
entirely free from them. In an open country they are not able to 
protect themselves from numerous enemies and consequently are 
restricted in range to towns and dwellings where they can obtain 
cover and a supply of food and water. 

General habits. — In habits the rats are generally filthy scavengers, 
keeping under floors and within the walls of buildings, where they 
are safe from enemies and can prey upon garbage and refuse as well 
as upon the stores of food and grain that are with difficulty pro- 
tected from them. They burrow readily in the ground and often 
gain entrance to buildings by burrowing under walls and into cel- 
lars. They can also climb and will get over walls and wire fences 
that they can not get under or through. Their voices are often 


heard as they fight, squeal, and chatter in the walls or under floors, 
and in every way they deserve the disgust associated with the name 
of rat. 

Food habits. — In food habits they are omnivorous, accepting any- 
thing in the way of grain, provisions, fruit, meat, vegetables, gar- 
bage, or any refuse of an edible nature. They drink a great deal 
and will not remain where water is not accessible. 

Breeding habits. — Rats are prolific breeders, producing litters of 
from eight to more than a dozen young at frequent intervals through- 
out a large part of the year. 

Economic statics. — The continual destruction of grain, food, and 
various stores by rats produces an enormous annual loss throughout 
the country, besides that caused by fires, which they are instrumental 
in starting by gnawing the insulation from electric wires; but most 
serious are the diseases which they convey from place to place. 
Constant warfare on rats is necessary to keep their numbers within 
bounds, and a bulletin has been prepared by the Bureau of Biolog- 
ical Survey, giving the most effective and economical methods for 
their destruction (Silver, 1927). 


Roof Rat 

Mus alexandrinus Geoffroy, Description de l'Egypte, Mammiferes, p. 733, 1818. 

Type locality. — Alexandria, Egypt. 

General characters. — Smaller and slenderer than the wharf rat, with larger 
ears and longer, slenderer tail, which exceeds in length the head and body. 
Color, brownish gray above with usually a white belly. 

Measurements. — An adult male measures in total length, 410 ; tail, 234 ; foot, 
37 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — One specimen of the roof rat in the 
collection of the College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts at Mesilla 
Park, taken at Las Cruces in October, 1914, by A. Archer, seems to 
furnish the only record for New Mexico. Mearns records the roof 
rat from El Paso, Tex., and points in southern Arizona, but usually 
this species is found near the coasts of the southern United States, 
where it has been introduced from ships and has spread but a short 
distance inland. It is less restricted to towns and buildings than the 
the wharf rat, and its possible occupation of the arid valleys of 
southern New Mexico and Arizona suggests a dangerous tendency 
in these areas of intensive agriculture. 

House Mouse 
[Mus] musoulus Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., Ed. 10, v. 1, p. 62, 1758. 

Type locality. — Sweden. 

General characters. — This is a sleek little mouse with sharp nose, and long 
tapering tail, nearly naked and finely scaled; the color of the upperparts is 
buffy brown, the lower parts usually buffy gray. 

Measurements. — An old male measures in total length, 165; tail, 98; hind 
foot, 19 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The house mice were introduced from 
Europe with the early settlement of the country. Woodhouse (1854, 
p. 48) reported them as common about all the settlements in New 


Mexico in 1851, and to-day there are probably few ranches or houses 
in the State where they are not found. In 1889 the writer found 
them common in the little mining camp of San Pedro in the Sandia 
Mountains east of Albuquerque at a time when that new camp was 
mainly a settlement of tents. They were also common at that time in 
and about Albuquerque, and in 1893 Loring found them in the 
meadows and along the irrigation ditches at Aztec in the extreme 
northwestern part of the State. They are not only abundant and 
troublesome in houses, storehouses, barns, and stables, but they have 
spread to the fields and meadows, where they are one of the most 
abundant and destructive of the small rodents in the farming dis- 
tricts of the State. At Redrock, E. A. Goldman reported one caught 
in a weedy field a quarter of a mile from the nearest house, and at 
Farmington and Fruitland Clarence Birdseye reported them abund- 
ant among the weeds and in the grain and alfalfa fields along the 
ditches, often in company with meadow mice, harvest mice, and 
white-footed mice. They readily adapt themselves to wild life, 
where vegetation or any old trash affords cover from their numerous 
enemies and where there is a supply of grain and seeds for food. 

Food habits. — In choice of food they are as omnivorous as the 
rats, accepting anything in the way of grain, seeds, fruit, vegetables, 
meat, garbage, and any old refuse. 

Breeding habits. — House mice are very prolific, producing large 
litters of young at frequent intervals and quickly increasing in 
numbers to the carrying capacity of any locality where they become 
established. It is only through a host of enemies that they are 
kept within bounds and from doing great injury. 

Economic status. — These house mice, which are of no possible 
value, are among the most destructive of small rodent pests, and 
every effort is required to protect crops and foods from their ravages. 
So far as possible buildings should be made both rat and mouse proof, 
but it is not always possible to exclude these little intruders, as they 
are brought in under cover of boxes or crates, and they quickly 
establish themselves and multiply rapidly. The damage done uy the 
mice is sometimes more than equaled, however, by that of domestic 
cats, which are usually kept to control their abundance and which in 
many cases feed to a far greater extent on the native song and 
insectivorous birds than upon the mice that run riot in fields and 

Family CRICETIDAE: American Rats and Mice 


Grasshopper Mouse; Calling Mouse; Scorpion Mouse; Ho-o-la of the 
Moki Indians (Fisher) 

Onychomys leucogaster melanophrys Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 2, p. 2, 

Onychomys melanophrys pallescens Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 3, p. 61, 

1890. Type from Moki Pueblo, Ariz. 

Type. — Collected at Kanab, Utah, December 22, 1888, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — This grasshopper mouse is a bright-colored southern 
form of the northern grasshopper mouse Onychomys levk-og aster. It is a 
plump little animal, with small ears and rather short, tapering tail. In fully 
adult pelage the upper parts are a bright cinnamon buff, with the upper middle 
portion of the ear blackish ; the lower parts, feet, lower surface, and tip of 



[No. 53 

tail pure white. Immature specimens are pale slate gray above, becoming 
darker gray as they reach maturity and dark grayish buff during the first 
winter, often with considerable wash of blackish over the back. The skull, 
compared with that of leucogastcr, is long and narrow, with relatively longer, 
slenderer rostrum. 

Measurements. — The type, an adult male, measures in total length, 145 ; 
tail, 41 ; hind foot, 21 millimeters. Other specimens from various localities 
average 154, 44, 22 millimeters, respectively, and run as high as 163, 55, 23 

Distribution and habitat. — The scorpion mice inhabit the whole 
Upper Sonoran Zone area of northwestern New Mexico, both on the 
open plains and valleys and in the scattered juniper and nut pine 
country. (Fig. 20.) They are animals of the open country, evi- 
dently preferring the more arid and barren areas, where they are in 

places abundant, although 
generally of scattered and 
infrequent occurrence. 

General habits. — The 
names "grasshopper 
mouse " and " scorpion 
mouse" refer to the food 
of this little animal, while 
the name " calling mouse " 
refers to its very unusual 
voice. In camp on a still 
night one often hears a fine, 
shrill whistle or prolonged 
squeak, insectlike in atten- 
uated quality but as smooth 
and prolonged as the hunt- 
ing call of the timber wolf, 
and next morning often 
finds some of these little 
hunters in traps near by. 
In captivity the mice utter 
their calls from cage to 
cage, or if taken away from 
their companions, or if 
alone when the mating 
season arrives and warm nights stir their social instincts. Often 
from their cages in the evening the fine call note rings out, repeated 
at irregular intervals, and on a few fortunate occasions the writer 
has watched one throw up its head, and with open mouth and 
closed eyes send forth its call exactly as he has watched a lone wolf 
give its prolonged howl from the snow-covered crest of a far ridge. 
With the difference in size of the animals allowed for, the calls are 
not so different ; it is merely that the voice of the calling mouse is so 
attenuated that only keen ears can detect it. 

These little rodents are among the most interesting of their group, 
in that their highly carnivorous and insectivorous tastes have modi- 
fied their rodent habits. Though they doubtless have definite homes, 
they are found so generally scattered over the country as to suggest 
the wandering traits of larger predacious mammals. They are 
caught in traps set almost anywhere over the open country, but the 

Figure 20. — Distribution of grasshopper mice in 
New Mexico : 1, Onychomys leucogaater arcti- 
ceps ; 2, O. leucogastcr melanophrys ; 3, 0. leu- 
cogastcr ruidosae; 4, O. torridus torridus 
Type localities circled. 


experienced collector rarely sets traps especially for them, as they 
leave no trace or signs of habitation. In sandy spots their pudgy, 
round tracks may often be distinguished from the slenderer foot- 
prints of P&fomysam and Perognathus, but they seem never to lead 
to or from any definite place or abode. Where most abundant the 
mice are taken in traps set at the burrows of kangaroo rats, pocket 
mice, and ground squirrels, but perhaps most frequently in old 
deserted badger holes. They evidently occupy any burrow found 
deserted or from which they can evict the owner, although it is prob- 
able that they make burrows for themselves and for their nests and 
young. Old badger and prairie-dog burrows are probably fruitful 
fields of search for their insect prey. 

Many are caught in traps set across little furrows made by drag- 
ging the heel through the sand, for they never cross such a mark 
without investigating it to its full length, and their omnivorous 
tastes and unsuspicious natures make them easy victims of any kind 
of small trap with almost any form of bait. If the trap already 
contains some other kind of mouse they at once fall to and feast upon 
its flesh, thus ruining many important specimens for the collector. 
Generally only a few scorpion mice are taken at one locality, not 
because they are rare but because there is no definite way of finding 
where they live. Occasionally, however, they are found in unusual 
abundance and fill the traps in advance of other species. At Win- 
gate in June, 1905, Hollister found them extremely abundant in the 
valley of the Rio Puerco. They were caught at all places where traps 
were set in the open valley and evidently at their own burrows, 
which were usually under cover of low bushes in sandy soil. Several 
were caught in traps set for pocket gophers down to a depth of 20 
inches below the ground. During his stay of 10 days at that locality 
he made up a fine series of 32 specimens, mainly adults, and threw 
away a large number of immature and imperfect individuals. 

Along the Chama River, Gaut and the writer collected them at 
Stinking Spring Lake [Burford Lake], and others just above the 
Colorado line in the Rio Grande Valley near Antonito, Colo., which 
carries their range along both of these valleys in the Upper Sonoran 

At Stinking Spring Lake one was heard almost every evening near 
camp. Its fine shrill whistle would sound repeatedly from the sage- 
brush just at dark in a prolonged note so thin and piercing that its 
vibrations must have been about the limit of rapidity to which human 
ears are attuned. This note was frequently heard at camps all over 
the plains country. It is heard mostly at night and frequently in the 
early evening, but occasionally at any time of night up to the dusk of 
early morning. It is doubtless a call note like the howl of the wolf, 
or possibly a warning or danger signal. The writer first became fa- 
miliar with the note from a tame specimen of the northern grasshop- 
per mouse kept in his room, and has never failed to recognize it since 
whenever heard. His reason for believing it a call note rather than 
a. note of alarm is that the several individuals that he has kept alive 
showed no signs of fear or timidity. They were unafraid from the 
first, made no objections to being handled, and proved both gentle 
and interesting pets. 


Food habits. — The stomachs of these scorpion mice are usually- 
found to contain the remains of a great variety of insects, including 
grasshoppers, crickets, scorpions, mole crickets, beetles, caterpillars, 
cutworms, and insect eggs; also the flesh and hair of many small 
mammals that they kill or find in traps; occasional lizards, and nu- 
merous weed seeds. (Bailey and Sperry, 1929.) Near Acoma one ate 
a pocket mouse that the writer had trapped with great difficulty and 
needed for a specimen. Near Fruitland, Clarence Birdseye reported 
a kangaroo rat and another scorpion mouse eaten in his traps. Fresh 
meat seems to be a favorite food, but they will also take any kind of 
rolled oats or grain used for trap bait, and the stomach contents 
usually show more or less of the remains of seeds. 

Breeding habits. — At Wingate, Hollister took two females on June 
21, containing four and five embryos, respectively. The females have 
3 pair of mammae, arranged in 2 pairs of inguinal and 1 pair of 
pectoral. Four and five seem to be the common number of fetuses in 
this group, but as these are usually arranged two on one side and three 
on the other, it is evident that six is the normal maximum to a litter. 
The breeding dates would indicate that more than one litter is pro- 
duced in a season, and young of various ages from just large enough 
to be out to nearly full grown are often caught at the same place and 
time. Although rather prolific, the scorpion mice have enough 
enemies to keep down their abundance and their life in the open 
renders them especially exposed to nocturnal birds and beasts of prey. 

Hibernation. — In winter the adults often become quite fat, and the 
tails swollen with a thick layer of fat under the skin, but in New 
Mexico they evidently do not hibernate, as they are caught at all 
times during the year. The actual type of melanophrys was caught 
at Kanab, Utah, December 22, 1888, while there was a little snow on 
the ground and the nights were freezing cold. They have not been 
found storing up food or carrying it in their cheek pouches, and there 
seems to be no evidence that they make any provision for the future. 
Even in midwinter they find some insects and mice with which to 
vary their diet, and in the deep burrows of larger animals where 
numerous insects gather to spend the winter they find abundance of 
choice food. 

Economic status. — Usually these mice are not sufficiently abundant 
to be of any great economic importance, and if they were abundant 
their beneficial food habits would overbalance the slight mischief 
they might occasionally do. It is evident from the numerous cases 
in which the flesh and hair of other mice are found in their 
stomachs that they often capture and devour other species of mice 
as well as numerous insects. 

For several years the writer kept and bred them at his home at 
Washington, where they proved useful as well as interesting. Two 
were given a nest box in the kitchen where they soon exterminated 
the cockroaches at night and so consistently slept through the day that 
they were unnoticed by the cook. They never climbed above the floor 
nor did any mischief, but legs and shells of cockroaches could be 
found all around the edges of the floor. They were then given the 
freedom of the basement with an open cage for a nest and well sup- 
plied with water and sunflower seeds. For more than a year they 


lived comfortably and so thoroughly exterminated all insect pests 
that no more cockroaches appeared again for a couple of years. The 
grasshopper mice made no trouble and were in no way objectionable 
in the basement. They seemed never to climb above the floor. 

The experiment of using them to keep down insect pests in green- 
houses and gardens is well worth trying and could easily be managed 
in any inclosure from which they could not escape. They are easily 
caught alive in small box traps, and in places where they are common 
tin cans sunk below the surface of the ground should catch them in 
considerable numbers. They seem to have no inclination to climb 
but in confinement would probably burrow into the earth or find any 
small openings through which to escape. If they could be made 
serviceable in dwellings and greenhouses as well as interesting and 
attractive pets for children, they would fill an important place in our 
domestic economy. 

Southern Plains Grasshopper Mouse 
Onychomys arcticeps Rhoads, Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. Proc. 1898 : 194, 1899. 

Type. — Collected at Clapham, Union County, N. Mex., November 7, 1893, by 
Ernest Thompson Seton. 

General characters. — Very similar to melanophrys but averaging slightly 
duller in coloration, more buffy and less cinnamon in adult pelage. 

Measurements. — Average : Total length, 151 ; tail, 42 ; hind foot, 21 millime- 
ters. Maximum measurements : 170, 53, and 23 millimeters, respectively. 

Distribution and habitat. — The southern Plains grasshopper mouse 
is found on the Upper Sonoran plains of eastern New Mexico, includ- 
ing the Pecos Valley from Carlsbad to Santa Rosa, grading insensi- 
bly into ruidosae farther west. At Carlsbad and Koswell it enters 
the edge of Lower Sonoran Zone with a mixture of other Upper 
Sonoran species, but nowhere extends into pure Lower Sonoran. 
(Fig. 20.) It is a mouse of the grassy and weedy plains country. 

General habits. — Like other species of the genus these pretty, soft- 
furred, clean little mice wander about like predatory animals rather 
than like ordinary rodents. They are caught in traps set for other 
animals in runways, burrows, open places, under the weeds and 
wolfberry bushes along the gulches, or out on the short grass plains 
where there is no cover. They seem as much at home as the badger, 
with only the good mellow earth to burrow in and plenty of game 
below the surface if not on top. They are nocturnal rovers, but are 
bright and lively in the daytime if captured and kept where they 
can be observed and handled, and, unlike most rodents, when cap- 
tured they are unusually gentle and unafraid. 

Like the scorpion mouse their shrill little voice is often heard at 
night, and in the morning round of the traps some choice catch may 
be found half eaten as evidence of their presence. They are easily 
caught if at all common, for they seem to have no fear of traps or 
man, and will blunder into any kind of trap that offers food or a 
mousy odor. 

Breeding habits. — The mammae of the females are arranged in 
two pairs of inguinal and one pair of pectoral, and the number of 
young in a litter as indicated by the embryos is usually four, although 


five and six are sometimes found. As the females are found contain- 
ing embryos in April, May, June, July, and August, evidently more 
than one litter is raised in a year. 

Ruidoso Grasshopper Mouse 
Onychomys ruidosae Rehn, Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. Proc. 55: 22, 1903. 

Type. — Collected at Ruidoso (Hales ranch), N. Mex., September 19, 1S98, by 
C. M. Barber. 

General characters. — Similar to nxelaiiwphrys and aroticeps but slightly 
darker in coloration ; size about the same or slightly larger. 

Measurements. — Average total length, 159 ; tail, 49 ; hind foot, 22.2 millimeters ; 
maximum : 167, 55, and 24 millimeters, respectively. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Ruidoso grasshopper mouse ranges 
over the Upper Sonoran mesas and foothills of central and south- 
western New Mexico and west into Arizona and south into Mexico. 
(Fig. 20.) The animals are generally found among the desert shrubs 
collectively called sagebrush, greasebush, and rabbit brush, but also 
out on the sandy flats and even among the scattered nut pines and 
junipers . At Jarilla, Gaut caught one among the mesquite bushes, 
and at Lake Valley E. A. Goldman took one under a desert willow 
bush, but both were at the edge of the Lower Sonoran Zone. At 
Mesilla, Deming, and Hachita they were also at the extreme lower 
edge of their zone, but at such localities they were thrown with many 
species of plants that do not extend over much of their range, and 
were beginning to grade toward the paler albescens of Chihuahua. 
The mice were common in the foothill region of the White, Capitan, 
Jicarilla, Manzano, and Sandia Mountains, and west of the Rio 
Grande Hollister found them abundant near Burleigh, in the grassy 
parks of the Bear Spring Mountains up to nearly 8,000 feet, and also 
in the grassy parks and openings and sandy sections in the Gallina 
and Datil Ranges. 

General habits. — Of the 24 specimens collected by Hollister some 
were trapped at the entrances of kangaroo-rat and ground-squirrel 
burrows and one deep down in a pocket-gopher burrow. On the 
San Augustine Plains E. A. Goldman found them common under the 
greasebush in the loose sandy soil of the open, and up into the edge 
of the pinyon belt. One was found in the stomach of the New Mexico 
desert fox, while some of those caught had been eaten by more fortu- 
nate companions. On Cactus Flat between the Gila and San Fran- 
cisco Rivers, the writer caught three in one night near his camp in 
traps set at burrows of kangaroo rats. At Deming he found them 
abundant in December, 1889, and in August, 1908, Goldman found 
them still common near there and living in similar burrows in the 
sand dunes among the mesquite bushes. 

Food habits. — At San Pedro in the Sandia Mountains the writer 
caught these mice in traps baited with cheese, bread, and rolled oats. 
In one trap he found the head and part of the skin of a harvest 
mouse (Reithrodontomys), and in another trap near by a grass- 
hopper mouse whose stomach contained the missing parts of the 
victim. At Cactus Flat a grasshopper mouse ate about half of a five- 
toed kangaroo rat from one of the writer's traps before getting into 

North American Fauna No. 53, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey 


B23286 B4030M 

A, Arizona grasshopper mouse (Onychomys torridus torridus) eating a grasshopper; B, long-nosed 
deer mouse (Peromyscus nasutus) from Colorado. (Photo by E. R. Warren) 



another near by. Its stomach contained the freshly eaten flesh and 
hair of the rat, besides some insects and seeds. The stomachs of two 
others were full of about equal quantities of seeds and insects. At 
Deming the mice ate four or five kangaroo rats and three of their 
own kind from the traps, but the stomachs of most of those taken 
were full of sunflower and little wild-bean seeds with a mixture of 
indeterminable insect remains. 

Breeding habits. — At Socorro E. A. Goldman caught a female on 
August 19, 1909, containing four embryos, and at San Pedro on July 
10, 18S9, the writer collected a female containing four well-grown 
embryos and at the same time caught several half-grown young. 
Apparently two or more litters are raised in a season under favorable 
circumstances, but the breeding season in this group seems to be very 

Arizona Grasshopper Mouse 

Hesperomys (Onychomys) torridus Coues, Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. Proc. 1874: 

183, 1874. 
Onychomys torridus arenicola Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. 19: 139, 1896. 

Type from Rio Grande, 6 miles above El Paso, Tex. 

Type. — Collected at Camp Grant, Graham County, Ariz., June 10, 1867, by 
Edward Palmer. 

General characters. — A small and relatively long-tailed grasshopper mouse, 
entirely distinct from members of the leucogaster group. The autumn and 
winter pelage of adults is a bright cinnamon buff over the upper parts, very 
similar in color to the corresponding pelage of melanophrys. The underparts, 
feet, tip, and lower side of tail are pure white. In spring and early summer 
the general color is slightly paler. The young and immature are bluish or 
dull gray. The skulls, compared with those of melanophrys, are small and 
slender and the interpterygoid space is evenly rounded against the posterior 
shelf of palate. 

Measurements. — An adult female from near the type locality measures, total 
length, 151 ; tail, 54 ; hind foot, 21 millimeters. A male from near Tucson 
measures 148, 48, and 21 millimeters, respectively ; ear from notch, 17 milli- 
meters; and weighed 26.8 grams. The tail usually measures more than half 
the combined length of head and body, while in the leucogaster group it is 
commonly less than half. 

Distribution and habitat. — The little Arizona grasshopper mouse 
(pi. 8, A) has a wide distribution in the Lower Sonoran valleys' 
of southern New Mexico. (Fig. 20.) Specimens from Carlsbad, 
Tularosa, several localities in the Tularosa Valley, the base of the 
Organ, Franklin, and San Andres Mountains, Socorro, Hillsboro, 
near Hachita and Silver City, Redrock, Glenwood, and Pleasanton, 
N. Mex., and El Paso, Tex., carry its range practically over all the 
Lower Sonoran valleys of the State. At Silver City it comes into 
the edge of the Upper Sonoran. Its range meets that of the Upper 
Sonoran ruidosae, but the two do not overlap to any great extent, 
torridus occupying the most arid desert valleys of the mesquite and 
creosote-bush area. 

General habits. — In habits the Arizona grasshopper mice do not 
differ greatly from their larger relatives. They seem to be generally 
distributed over the desert valleys, where they are caught at all sorts 
of burrows, some of which they evidently dig for homes, others being 
borrowed or appropriated. They seem to prefer sandy or mellow 


ground and are generally caught in traps set for other animals at 
the entrances of burrows or in little trenches made by scraping the 
foot through the sand. 

At Glenwood the writer caught four or five specimens on the dry 
flats and mesquite-covered mesas, mainly in traps baited with rolled 
oats set for Perodipus and Perognathus. At Socorro E. A. Gold- 
man caught several at burrows under creosote and mesquite bushes 
along the edge of the valley, and at Hillsboro he took one specimen 
at a small burrow under a bush of Schmaltzia microphylla. At Tul- 
arosa Gaut caught them both in the lower foothills and out on the 
flat valley south of town. He also caught them, at various places 
along the lower slopes of the San Andres and Organ Mountains, and 
Hollister collected a specimen at the edge of the Lower Sonoran 
Zone in the Tularosa Valley south of the Sacramento Mountains. 
They are active at all times of the year, and specimens have been 
taken in the coldest winter weather. 

Food habits. — The stomachs of those taken for specimens usually 
show a large proportion of insect remains, some seeds, and occa- 
sionally traces of the hair or flesh of other mice. The stomachs of 
five taken near Glenwood early in November contained about equal 
parts of seeds and insects, none of which could be identified. At 
Socorro, in August, the stomach of one that E. A. Goldman caught 
contained the remains of grasshoppers and a whitish pulp, which 
was apparently from some kind of seeds. Specimens caught in 
western Texas during the winter also showed a combination of insects 
and seeds in about equal quantities and several contained the remains 
of mice or kangaroo rats, which had been eaten from traps near the 
locality where they were caught. The legs of grasshoppers and parts 
of beetles, crickets, and scorpions are sometimes recognizable in the 
stomachs. In captivity the mice eagerly eat scorpions, grasshoppers, 
crickets, cockroaches, beetles, beetle larvae, flies, maggots, moths, 
wasps, spiders, and any fresh meat, refusing only hairy caterpillars, 
centipedes, and ants. They apparently do not carry or store up 
food for winter but always seem to be able to find abundance when 
and where it is needed. 

Breeding habits. — A female that E. A. Goldman collected at 
Socorro on August 14 contained four fetuses, and this seems to be the 
usual number of young produced at a birth. The mammae are 
arranged in 3 pairs, 2 pairs of inguinal close together and 1 pair of 
pectoral. There are not sufficient data to show whether these mice 
breed more than once during a season, but apparently they are never 
abundant, and it is probable that they are not prolific breeders. 

Economic status. — The Arizona grasshopper mice have no possibil- 
ities of injurious effect on agriculture, and their influence in holding 
in check the abundance of insects and other species of mice may be 
far more important than is generally supposed. A close study of 
their food and general habits shows them to be mainly if not entirely 
useful animals. 

Genus PEROMYSCUS Gloger 

The genus Peromyscus is represented in New Mexico by 10 recog- 
nized forms, including two subgenera, Haplomylomys Osgood and 



Peromyscus Gloger. In the present treatment of the species and 
subspecies, Osgood's admirable revision of the genus is used. 
(Osgood, 1909.) A few additional records help to round out the 
ranges of some of the forms, .as do also the collectors' field notes, 
while the maps are on a larger scale than hitherto published and 
permit a more detailed distribution. As a group these mice are 
undoubtedly the most abundant mammals of the region, both in spe- 
cies and individuals, and among the mammals small enough to be 
classed as mice they are in some ways of the greatest economic impor- 
tance. Collectively they may be said to cover every part of the State 
and usually in great numbers. The habits of the different forms vary 
to such an extent that it is important to know which is responsible 
for any mischief in order that its depredations may be controlled in 
the most economical manner. 


Tawny Deer Mouse ; Kla-tse-ha'-na of the Taos Indians ; Na-zon'-za of the 

Navajo Indians 

Hesperomys lewcopus rufinus Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 3, p. 65, 1890. 

Type. — Collected at San Francisco Mountain, Ariz. (9,000 feet), August 22, 
1889, by C. Hart Merriam and Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — This is a little short-eared deer mouse, with its tail 
decidedly shorter than its head and body. In adults the upper parts are rich 
ochraceous or rufescent, more or less mixed with dusky ; the ears are covered 
with short, silky hairs and usually with a minute tuft of white hairs at the 
anterior base ; the lower surface of the tail, feet, and lower parts are white, 
the tail sharply bicolor. Young and immature specimens are bluish or slaty 

Measurements. — Average of 15 typical adult specimens : Total length, 160 ; 
tail, 70 ; hind foot, 20 ; ear from notch, 15.5 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The little bright-colored tawny deer 
mice inhabit the mountain country of northern and western New 
Mexico, reaching their southern limit in the Mogollon and Sacra- 
mento Mountains and their eastern in the Sierra Grande region. 
(Fig. 21.) In the typical form they are most abundant in the Transi- 
tion and the Canadian Zones, but in places they extend slightly below 
the limit of the Transition Zone before blanching into the pale 
blandus of the lower country. To a slight extent they also reach 
into the Hudsonian Zone, and specimens have been taken on peaks 
in the Arctic-Alpine, but not in sufficient numbers to give them a 
permanent place in either of these higher zones. They seem to reach 
their greatest abundance in the open yellow-pine forests of the 
Transition Zone, but are also abundant throughout the open forests 
and parks of the Canadian. In the dense spruce and fir forests they 
are often taken, but seem to be less numerous than in the more open 
areas. More than any other species of Peromyscus in New Mexico, 
they are characteristically woods mice. 

General Imbits. — Throughout the mountain forest region of New 
Mexico these are the most abundant mice, and often the collector is 
obliged to catch and throw away dozens of them before he is able to 
catch the more obscure and retiring species for which he is always 
searching. Traps set under logs and rocks, in banks, about old 
stumps, at hollows under the base of trees, or under brush heaps in 



[No. 53 

mats of fallen grass and dense vegetation are usually filled up by 
these mice for two or three consecutive nights. From a good trap 
line of 75 or 100 traps extending over a couple of acres of rough 
ground, or for half a mile across a valley and up a steep slope the col- 
lector often takes two or three dozen of Peromyscus for several morn- 
ings. They then become so scarce along the trap line that more 
desirable species can be caught. By going to his traps morning 
and evening the collector will at first get several diurnal species of 
mice and shrews in the evening round, while these strictly nocturnal 
mice will be found only in the morning round. They seem to be in 
every nook and corner, and it is difficult to place a trap where they 
will not find it. They are excellent climbers, and traps set on logs 
or leaning tree trunks or on the large branches of low trees will 

catch more of them than of 
any other species. 

Where a tent is pitched 
in the woods they are sure 
to come in and will some- 
times keep the campers 
awake by scampering over 
their canvas or trying to 
make nests in their hair at 
night. They are gentle 
little animals and never 
bite unless captured and 
held against their will, 
when they resist most vig- 
o r o u s 1 y and effectively. 
Their homes seem to be gen- 
erally underground among 
the rocks, in hollow trees or 



cabins or 

Figure 21. — Distribution of the small white-footed 
mice in New Mexico : 1, Peromyscus manicu- 
latus rufinus ; 2, P. maniculatus blandus 

l camps, 
old buildings, or on the 
surface of the ground under 
dense cover. There is some 
doubt as to whether they 
dig burrows for themselves, 
but they certainly make numerous doorways into the abandoned un- 
derground tunnels of pocket gophers, which are commonly available. 
They also use the burrows of other small mammals in their locality. 
The conditions desired are cover, a dry place for the nest in summer, 
and a well-protected warm and dry home for winter. 

Their nests are usually of the finest, softest, and driest grass stems 
and plant fibers and are often lined with wool, feathers, or the silky 
down of various plants. The nests in which the young are found 
are especially well made and carefully lined, often as neat and com- 
pact as the nests of many birds. One or two openings at the sides 
admit the owners to the central nest chamber, but unlike the nests 
of meadow mice, no runways or smoothly worn trails lead away from 
the doors. The nests, when occupied, are always fresh and clean, 
and apparently the summer and winter nests are quite distinct. 
Many of the summer nests are placed on the surface of the ground 
under some cover that will protect them from rain and dampness. 


Any new cover is quickly taken possession of, and a camp wagon 
can not stand long where these mice are abundant without being 
occupied. At Stinking Spring Lake [Burford Lake] one made its 
nest under a harness, which was thrown on the ground by the side of 
the wagon and covered with canvas. For a nest it had taken a 
bunch of dry water plants that the writer had collected for speci- 
mens, and made a lining of duck feathers, which were abundant 
around the camp. The scattered grain and bits of food about camp 
apparently deceived them into thinking they had found a permanent 
food supply. At night their fine, squeaking voices were often heard. 
In southwestern Colorado, Cary heard their midnight squeaking 
in an abandoned cabin in which he was sleeping. He says: "A 
faint squeak in one end of the cabin elicited answers from other 
parts of the building, and the noise was kept up for some time." 
(Cary, 1911, p. 104.) 

Food habits. — The food of these mice consists mainly of seeds, 
grain, acorns, berries, and occasionally insects and any fresh meat 
they can get hold of. The rich, oily seeds of many of the plants 
belonging to the Compositae seem to be a favorite food, but appar- 
ently almost every kind of seed that they can procure is eaten, as is 
shown by the chaff, scales, and shells often conspicuous on their 
feeding grounds. Though grass, seeds, and grains of many kinds 
are eagerly eaten, in striking contrast to the meadow mice, their 
stomach contents rarely show a trace of green vegetation. The seeds 
and pulp of bright-colored berries, such as raspberries, thimble- 
berries, strawberries, and blueberries, are often found in the stomach 
contents. Traces of the hard parts of insects are also sometimes 
found. Occasionally mice of their own and other species when 
caught in traps are found half eaten, indicating carnivorous and 
cannibalistic habits. They are readily caught in traps baited with 
bacon, salt pork, or any kind of fresh meat, and they will gnaw 
drying skins or bones whenever opportunity offers. Bread crust, 
cheese, cold meat, dried fruit, and miscellaneous refuse from the 
camp table are eaten or carried off and stored for future use. In 
a forest camp the grain sack is never safe and can rarely rest on 
the ground for a night without having little holes cut in the sides 
by the provident mice. They store in their dens or in conveniently 
accessible holes or pockets in the ground. Their mouths and cheeks 
are often found stuffed with seeds and grain, and while relatively 
less capacious than those of the ground squirrels, they serve to 
transport considerable quantities. Only the cleanest, soundest, and 
best of the grain and seeds are taken for storing, as is shown by 
the choice little deposits. These are not, strictly speaking, winter 
stores, as the mice are active at all times of the year and can usually 
find an abundance of food. In much of their range, however, the 
snow becomes deep in winter and the stores are probably drawn 
upon then more than at other seasons. 

These deer mice do not hibernate, and late in the fall the writer 
has found their tracks in snow on the mountains at altitudes above 
10,000 feet. During long winters of deep snows they live comfort- 
ably in chambers and runways under the surface of the ground and 
in cavities under logs and leaves above the surface. Here they are 

64909°— 32 10 


well protected from their enemies, but at night they often brave 
danger and come out to scamper over the white drifts, as is evidenced 
by delicate lines of miniature squirrel-like tracks in the snow in the 
mornings. Some of these tracks end with a blurred wing mark, 
for the small owls eagerly watch and wait to pounce upon them. 
Perhaps more than any other species of mice, they furnish the 
winter food of these owls. 

Breeding habits. — The 6 mammae of the females are arranged, as 
usual, in 3 pairs — 2 pairs of inguinal and 1 pair of pectoral. The 
usual numbers of embryos seem to be four to six, but there is one 
record of seven, which is probably an unusual number. There are 
no records to show how early the breeding season begins, but it 
certainly lasts until late in the autumn, as the writer collected one 
female on September 13 that contained five, and A. H. Howell col- 
lected one on September 27 containing six fetuses. As both of these 
were at localities high up in the mountains, they suggest that the 
breeding season may even continue through a part of the winter. 
In the Manzano Mountains Gaut caught half-grown and quarter- 
grown young in December. Young of various ages seem to be about 
through the spring, summer, and autumn months, but so little winter 
work has been done by collectors in the mountains that one of the 
most interesting chapters of animal habits remains to be studied 
and written. 

Economic status. — Though a large part of the range of this species 
is above the agricultural zones, its lower part overlaps many fields 
of grain and other crops. Along the borders of fields of wheat, oats, 
and barley the mice in spring eat or carry away the planted seed and 
in fall feast upon the ripening grain until the last shock is hauled 
away and the last stack threshed or used up. Their actual destruc- 
tion of grain, however, is usually not great and often remains un- 
noticed, but combined with other species they levy a small tax upon 
the farm returns. In new settlements within their range and in 
forest camps they quickly gather in and about buildings. The com- 
plaints of the forest ranger more often apply to these than to any 
other mice. In winter camps frequently left unoccupied the mice 
sometimes make use of the warm bedding for nest material. Provi- 
sions left in these camps have to be suspended from the ceiling by 
wires to protect them, and even then they are not always safe, for 
the mice are excellent climbers and fearless in making long leaps. 
As scarcely any kind of food is exempt from their attacks, the mis- 
chief a few can make in a camp is often of a serious nature^ 

But the remedy is simple : A few good mouse traps set in the cor- 
ners of each camp to get the mice as fast as they come in. If the 
camp is to be abandoned for a considerable time, it will be well to 
leave a dozen or more traps set in different parts of the building to 
provide for' the occasional newcomers. In a camp used at intervals 
they are more troublesome than in one long abandoned, as at each 
occupancy enough food is usually scattered to attract them anew. 
In such a camp in the Mogollon Mountains, where the writer spent 
a week, they were so numerous that although a considerable number 
were caught each night they were not all gone when he left. Here, 
besides helping themselves to his food, they found his string of the 
drying skulls of small mammals that he had collected and ate some 


of them and carried off others. At one of his camps in the Jemez 
Mountains they were so numerous about the grub box that the cook 
set traps under the wagon and in one night caught 14. 

As these deer mice are typical forest dwellers, their influence upon 
the forest growth has been a matter of considerable study. Though 
they can not compete with the squirrels and chipmunks in opening 
and carrying away cones and tree seeds, there is little chance of any 
fallen seeds remaining on the ground undiscovered. The seeds they 
gather and store here and there in the ground may in some cases aid 
in extending and reproducing the forest, but the mice are so numer- 
ous and so social in their habits that it is doubtful if the cache of 
an individual that has been killed often escapes discovery by its 
companions. It is even probable that they discover and confiscate 
many of the more carefully secreted stores of squirrels and chip- 
munks, which would otherwise be left to grow. So far as the present 
evidence would indicate, these mice are probably serious enemies 
of the forest growth. In areas where reforestation is attempted by 
means of seed planting they are unquestionably one of the greatest 
enemies of the projects. Their abundance and keen sense of the lo- 
cation of edible seeds leaves little chance for a planted seed to es- 
cape discovery. Methods of protecting planted seeds from them 
have not yet been perfected. Their greatest natural enemies are 
owls, weasels, foxes, wild cats, badgers, skunks, and snakes, without 
which the problem of their superabundance would be an extremely 
difficult one. 

Little Paxe Deer Mouse; Frosted Deer Mouse 
Peromysous sonorlensis blandus Osgood, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 17 : 56, 1904. 

Ti/pe. — Collected at Escalon, Chihuahua, Mexico, November 27, 1893, by E. A. 

General characters. — Differs from rufiwws mainly in paler coloration. In 
adults the upper parts are buffy gray or dull ochraceous and in immature 
individuals often very pale ashy gray. 

Measurements. — Average of seven adults from the type locality : Total 
length, 145 ; tail, 61 ; hind foot, 21 ; ear from notch, 14.9 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Below the mountain forests in the arid 
and unforested desert ranges and open valleys of southern New 
Mexico, the little pale deer mice inhabit mainly the Upper Sonoran 
Zone, and along its upper border grade into ruflnus. In places they 
also crowd down into the edge of the Lower Sonoran Zone, but 
seem not to be generally distributed over it where the larger tornillo 
holds the ground. They generally inhabit the open country rather 
than the rocks and cliffs, which are fully occupied by larger species. 
(Fig. 21.) m ~ 

General habits. — Although inhabiting a rough country, these little 
gray mice are generally found in the mellow spots of open valley 
bottoms, sometimes under the protection of a moderate growth of 
weeds and vegetation, but oftener in the open areas where vegeta- 
tion is scarce and there seems little cover to protect them from 
enemies. This exposed habitat may account for their being usually 
less abundant than their better protected neighbors of the cliffs, 


brushy bottoms and forest areas. A few specimens only are col- 
lected here and there. At Carlsbad, Dutcher collected one in the 
Pecos Valley and in the San Andres Mountains and the foothills 
surrounding Tularosa Valley Gaut collected a few; one was taken 
by C. M. Barber at Mesilla, and in the Animas Valley and the 
Hachita country they were collected by E. A. Goldman and Clarence 
Birdseye. Along the Mexican boundary line Mearns found the 
mouse on rocky hills and buttes as well as on the level plain, but 
says that " Grassy spots around springs are its favorite abodes, and 
in such places it is abundant." (Mearns, 1907, p. 390.) 

Food habits. — In food habits these mice seem to be as omnivorous 
as their near relative rufirws. Seeds and grain of almost any kind 
seem to be eaten by them, and the writer has never yet found any 
trap bait that they would refuse. Mearns says they are " largely 
carnivorous, devouring insects or any animal food^" and proving 
"an annoyance by eating small mammals caught in our traps." 

Breeding habits. — In breeding habits this form probably does 
not differ materially from rufinus, but there are few data upon which 
to base conclusions. Mearns records two females taken May 13 and 
14 each containing four large fetuses, and a half-grown young one 
taken May 15. In the collection are half-grown young collected in 
May, August, December, and January. 

Economic status. — Over much of their range these mice do not 
come into contact with agricultural industries and are not of suffi- 
cient abundance to be of any appreciable economic importance. In 
habits they are as mischievous as any of the species, and may locally 
become troublesome about fields, gardens, grain stacks, barns, or 
houses. Their usual scarcity is probably due to the open country 
in which they live and the lack of protection from their numerous 
enemies. As they live mainly underground in the mellow soil of 
open valleys, they are an easy pfey not only to owls and cats, which 
pounce upon them at night, but also to badgers, skunks, coyotes, and 
foxes, which dig out their nests by day. As with other species, it 
is only necessary to uncover and expose them to their enemies and 
they will quickly vanish. 

Tornillo White-Footed Mouse 19 

Peromyscus tornillo Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. 18 : 445, 1896 (p. 3 of 
advance sheet issued March 25, 1896). 

Type. — Collected in Rio Grande Valley, 6 miles above El Paso, Tex., February 
18, 1892, by E. A. Mearns and F. X. Holzner. 

General characters. — A medium-sized Peromyscus with tail shorter than head 
and body, and ears smaller than in any of the long-tailed species. In adults 
the upperparts are dull grayish brown, the underparts and feet, pure white, and 
the tail indistinctly bicolor. 

Measurements. — Average of 10 adults from near the type locality: Total 
length, 182 ; tail, 82.6 ; hind foot, 22.5 ; ear from notch, 14.5 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Tornillo white-footed mouse occu- 
pies the whole Lower Sonoran Zone of the Rio Grande, Pecos, and 
Canadian River Valleys in New Mexico, extending up the Rio Grande 
Valley as far as Santa Fe and up the Pecos Valley to Santa Rosa 

19 Tornillo is the Mexican name of the screw-bean rnesquite, Prosopxs pubescens. 




and northeastward to Clapham and Clayton. It is a species of the 
open country and valleys, and not often associated with rocks and 
cliffs. (Fig. 22.) 

General habits. — In the Rio Grande Valley above El Paso, Mearns 
(1907, p. 409) says, "The Tornillo mouse is very abundant under 
groves of the screw bean .***." At Las Cruces E. A. Gold- 
man caught these mice among the grass and weeds along irrigation 
ditches near the river ; at Garfield, in weedy patches and bushes along 
the edges of fields and on bottom lands; near Lake Valley in thick 
grass on moist land ; and at Las Palomas, where they were common, 
among thickets of Baccharis, Pluchea, and weeds along the bottom 
lands near the river. At Hot Springs, 7 miles north of Las Palomas, 
he took them in the grass 
and weeds along the edge 
of the marsh at Socorro in 
thickets o f Cottonwood, 
willow, Baccharis, and 
Pluchea on the river bot- 
toms on both sides of the 
valley ; at Cuchillo he 
found them common in 
weedy fields in the bottom 
of the valley and also about 
rocks along the bluffs bor- 
dering the valley; and 
near the mouth of Water 
Canyon in the Magdalena 
Mountains he caught them 
under the cover of a dense 
growth of cactus. At the 
junction of the Puerco and 
San Jose Rivers, Hollister 
found them common in the 
tule marsh and the weedy 
thickets along the river 
bottoms; he also caught 
one in the Pecos Valley 8 miles north of Fort Sumner. Barber took 
one at Roswell, in the Pecos Valley; the writer caught them under 
mesquite bushes on the river flats a mile above Carlsbad, and also in 
the weedy bottoms near Santa Rosa, and in Conchos Creek Valley 
near Cabra Springs. A. H. Howell caught them in stony pastures 
and in an old cabin on the prairie near Clayton. Gaut took specimens 
in the ruins at the Gran Quivera and in many locations in canyon 
bottoms, in brushy and weedy places about the Organ, San Andres, 
and Manzano Mountains, and also in the Tularosa Valley. 

From these detailed notes on habitat, it is evident that the species 
is mainly restricted to the brushy and weedy parts of the open val- 
ley country. Whether this is choice or necessity will perhaps never 
be known, but it suggests that the larger, more active species have 
taken possession of the favorite strongholds and that the humbler 
forms are forced to be content with the second choice of situations. 

Food habits. — From the close association of these mice with the 
common mesquite, screw bean, and acacia bushes, it seems probable 

Figure 22. — Distribution of white-footed mice in 
New Mexico: 1, Peromyscus levcopus tornillo; 
2, P. leucopus arisonae. Type locality circled 


that they are attracted by the abundant crop of little beans yielded 
by these bushes, or possibly by the sweet, nutritious pods. Their 
range extends considerably beyond that of any of these bushes, how- 
ever, and their food includes the seeds of other plants. Gaut re- 
ported them feeding in part on seeds of the creosote bush. They are 
eager for rolled oats or any kind of grain or seeds used for trap 
bait and are so easily caught as to become a nuisance to the collector 
who is in search of more desirable species. In the Carlsbad Cave 
they were feeding mainly on the large crickets found in all parts 
of the cavern but also eagerly devouring remains of lunches and the 
oatmeal used for trap-bait. 

Breeding habits. — In this group the six mammae are arranged in 
two pairs of inguinal and one pair of pectoral. At Fort Hancock, 
Tex., Mearns recorded a female that on June 16 contained four 
fetuses. At Rio Puerco Hollister collected two females, September 
5, 1905, one of which contained four large and the other nine small 
fetuses; and another specimen collected September 8 contained five 
large fetuses. The nine young are probably an abnormal number, 
as it exceeds by three the usual number of mammae. From four to 
six is probably the usual number of young. These few breeding 
records do not give any index to the length of the breeding season, 
but it is probable that several litters are produced in a year, or 
that the breeding season extends practically throughout the year. 
In the low hot country where these mice are generally found, there 
is usually an abundant food supply, and there is no reason why the 
breeding season should not be continuous. 

Economic status. — These mice are generally found along the bor- 
ders of fields, meadows, or standing or harvested grain, where they 
can do the greatest degree of mischief. They often gather in vacant 
houses or outbuildings and occasionally make their nests in occupied 
houses or in the camp wagon. As they are strictly nocturnal they 
are rarely seen. A host of night-prowling enemies prevents their 
living in open or exposed locations, and without the protecting cover 
of weeds, grass, or low vegetation they could not maintain their 
abundance. Where they become troublesome it is only necessary 
to remove their cover and expose them to their enemies. 

Amzona White-Footed Mouse 
Sitomys americanus arizonae Allen, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 6: 321, 1S94. 

Type. — Collected at Fairbank, Ariz., March 13, 1894, by W. W. Price. 

General characters. — Very similar to tornillo but seems to average slightly 
darker in color. 

Measurements. — Average of five adult specimens from the type region : Total 
length, 1S6 ; tail, 82.6 ; hind foot, 22.6 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Arizona white-footed mice are abun- 
dant over the Deming Plains and in the Gila Valley of southwestern 
New Mexico, where they seem to be restricted to the Lower Sonoran 
desert. There are specimens from Deming, Bedrock, Gila, and 
Glenwood. (Fig. 22.) 

General habits. — In habits they seem to be identical with tornillo, 
occupying the weedy or brushy valley bottoms and corresponding in 
abundance to the cover that furnishes their protection. Their homes 


seem to be mainly under ground and generally in the burrows of 
other animals. The abandoned burrows of pocket gophers, kan- 
garoo rats, and even badgers, are taken possession of, but it is not 
improbable that some of the nest burrows are dug in the mellow 
soil when abandoned burrows can not be found. At Deming they 
were not common on the open ground near the town where the writer 
trapped in December, 1889 ; but in 1908, at the sink of the Mimbres 
8 miles farther east, E. A. Goldman found them numerous in the 
more weedy and grassy land. 

Food habits. — The host of little seeds of desert plants that hang 
in the dry pods or scatter and lie for long periods perfectly pre- 
served on or in the dry soil furnish an abundant food supply for 
these and many other mice. Rolled oats and all kinds of grain, 
seeds, and nuts used for trap bait are eagerly eaten by them, and 
they quickly fill the collector s traps. 

Breeding habits. — Mearns records three females of this species, 
taken October 21 to 23, which contained 4, 5, and 7 fetuses. 

Economic status. — As most of the range of these mice lies in un- 
occupied desert country, they are generally harmless, but along the 
few streams where irrigation is possible they are especially abundant 
at the edges of fields and in weedy places from which they can easily 
make inroads on the grain and garden crops or dig up the planted 
seeds. As they are active only at night they are rarely seen, and 
the mischief they do is not always recognized or attributed to its 
proper source. In clean fields with clean borders there is little 
danger from these or any other species of mice. 

Large-Eared Deer Mouse; Cuff Mouse 

Hesperomys truei Shuf eldt, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proe. 8 : 407, 1885. 
Hesperomys megalotis Merriam, North Anier. Fauna No. 3, p. 63, 1890. Type 
from Painted Desert, Ariz. 

Type. — Collected at Fort Wingate, N. Mex., March 14, 1865, by R. W. 

General characters. — One of the large, long-tailed deer mice or cliff mice 
of New Mexico. Its ears are relatively the largest of any of our native mice 
and are thin and nearly naked like those of some bats. The tip of the tail 
is unusually hairy for a Peromyscus ; fur very long and soft ; mustache long ; 
eyes large and prominent. In adult specimens the sides are rich buff and the 
back slightly darker buffy brown. The feet and lower parts are pure white. 

Measurements. — Average of 10 adult specimens : Total length, 186 ; tail, 92 ; 
hind foot, 23 ; ear from notch, 22.4 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The large-eared deer, or cliff mice in- 
habit practically all of the Upper Sonoran Zone area of New Mexico 
where there are rocks, cliffs, or canyons to furnish suitable homes. 
(Fig. 23.) They are absent from the open plains country along the 
eastern edge of the State, and apparently reach their eastern limit 
of range in the little canyons along the northern rim of the Staked 
Plains and in the Sierra Grande region. They are not found in the 
Lower Sonoran valleys, where eremicus and anthonyi take their place 
in rocky situations. They are strictly limited to their zone both 
below and above. Of approximately 50 localities in the State from 
which there are specimens, none lies beyond the limits of the zone. 



[No. 53 

They are preeminently cliff dwellers and are rarely found far from 
rocks, cliffs, or walls. 

General habits. — It is unfortunate that the name mouse should be 
attached to these beautiful, bright-eyed little cliff dwellers, for which 
the name squirrel would have been almost as appropriate. In ap- 
pearance they are delightfully bright and attractive, although rarely 
seen in daylight except when captured for specimens. Along some 
of the canyon walls they are abundant and often fill the collector's 
line of traps before other rarer and more desirable specimens can 
be taken. Telltale trails of dainty footprints lead over the dusty 
shelves of caves and crevices in the rocks, for the rocks are their 
castles; but they forage along the bases of cliffs and back for a 
considerable distance among the nut pine and juniper trees, where 
they climb the trunks and lower branches to gather the seeds for 

food. Near Santa Rosa, 
on the rim of a small side 
canyon of the Pecos River, 
they were common and 
associated with rowleyi 
and nasutus, both of which 
have somewhat similar hab- 
its. There is some question 
as to whether these three 
species live amicably to- 
gether or whether they 
divide the ground among 
them so as to occupy dif- 
ferent sections, but some- 
times all three, as well as 
the little / i v u/inus, were 
found in close proximity. 
At the northern escarp- 
ment of the Staked Plains, 
ti^uei was common in the 
rocks and cliffs from bot- 

Figuke 23. — Distribution of the large-eared deer tom to top and also among 
mouse, Peromyscus truei truei. in New Mexico. ji • • „ j , ■• „ 

Type locality circled the jumpers and nut pines 

wherever they grew, which 
was never far from the rocks. On Conchas Creek, a few miles north 
of Cabra Springs, they were also common among the cliffs and juni- 
pers, and in a hollow juniper tree near camp one had made a nest of 
bark and sheep's wool, which was thick, soft, and neat as that of a bird. 
Through a crack in the tree a little above the nest the writer could 
look in upon the black-eyed occupant, either curled up fast asleep or 
alertly watching his approach. When he rapped civilly on the trunk 
it would raise its head and look out at him inquiringly, but when 
he broke branches it would become alarmed and run up the hollow 
inside to a place of safety above the opening. It climbed the smooth 
inside of the trunk with perfect ease and great agility. It is probable 
that the species is much more arboreal than is supposed, its noctural 
habits having shielded it from observation. In 1892 A. K. Fisher 
found the mice so abundant at Fort Wingate that in a few nights' 
trapping he secured 32 specimens. His traps were set among the 


rocks and fallen trees in the pinyon and cedar growth, and a fine 
series of topotype specimens was secured of a species at that time 
little known. Since then their range has been very fully determined, 
as the species has been conspicuous and peculiarly interesting. In 
the San Juan Valley, Clarence Birdseye collected specimens in 1908 
near Fruitland in the sandstone bluffs and ledges along the river and 
also secured three in and about an old log house in the brushy 

Food habits. — Like all members of the genus, these deer mice are 
typical seed eaters, although occasionally varying their diet with a 
little fruit or a few insects. Pine nuts and juniper seeds seem to be 
their favorite food, as indicated by the shells left in little heaps on 
their feeding grounds under rocks, in the cliffs, or in hollow trunks 
or branches. When these seeds are not available there are always 
others of numerous little plants that can be gathered before they 
have fallen, picked up from the surface of the ground, or dug from 
underneath even after they have begun to grow. The food supply, 
therefore, seems always to be abundant. 

Seeds are rarely found in the cheek pouches, however, as the mice 
seem not to store any great quantity for future use, and the stomach 
contents are so finely ground as to give little clue to the kinds of 
seeds eaten. It is usually a mass of white dough from which every 
shell or hard part that might serve for identification has been care- 
fully removed. The shells and remains of seeds scattered at their 
feeding places are the principal clue to their food habits, and as 
several species often occur together, this clue is not entirely reliable. 
The deer mice are fond of rolled oats, barley, or almost any grain 
used in baiting traps and often come into camp at night and cut 
holes in the sacks of barley used for horse feed. Occasionally they 
even invade the grub box in the wagon and sometimes find this such 
satisfactory quarters that they build a nest and temporarily abandon 
their cliff home for the camp wagon. 

They never acquire much surplus fat and do not hibernate even 
in the coldest winter weather. Their tracks are as common on the 
snow in winter as in the dusty caves in summer, although it is dif- 
ficult to understand how their delicate feet and half -naked soles can 
stand the cold. 

Breeding habits. — The mammae of these mice are arranged in 3 
pairs — 2 pairs of inguinal, close together between the hind legs, 
and 1 pair of pectoral. The number of young in a litter is usually 
four to six. At Santa Rosa, Lantz took a female, May 15, that 
contained four embryos; at Fort Wingate, A. K. Fisher took two 
on July 3 containing four and five embryos, and others have been 
taken with six. The young are evidently produced and reared in 
the nests in safe retreats among the rocks, for they are rarely seen. 
Judging from the abundance of the mice and the fact that young 
in the blue coat and of various ages are caught in traps throughout 
the year, it seems probable that more than one litter is produced in 
a season. 

Economic status. — Locally when very numerous these mice may 
do considerable mischief to crops planted near their cliffs or cause 
trouble by entering houses and barns situated near their homes. If 
the juniper and nut pine areas were to be reforested, they, with the 


other species of their group, would render the planting of seeds a 
hopeless task. Though they may do some good in distributing the 
seeds of trees, it is doubtful if this counteracts to any great extent 
the real harm they do in gathering and consuming a large part of 
the tree seeds. Their enemies are legion, and include especially owls, 
cats, foxes, skunks, weasels, coyotes, badgers, civet cats, and almost 
every carnivorous night prowler of their region. Without the check 
of these enemies their abundance would soon be of serious conse- 
quence, not only to native vegetation but to agricultural industries. 

Rowley's Deer Mouse; Rowley's Cliff Mouse 

Sitomys rowleyi Allen, Bui. Ainer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 5 : 76, April, 1893. 
Sitomys rowleyi pinalis Miller, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 5: 331, December, 

1893. Type from Grant County, N. Mex. 
Peromyscus ooylii penicillatus Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proe. 19:139, 1896. 

Type from Franklin Mountains, Tex. 

Type. — Collected at Noland ranch, San Juan River, Utah, near the northwest 
corner of New Mexico, April 20, 1892, by Charles P. Rowley. 

General characters. — One of the largest and longest-tailed deer mice occurring 
in New Mexico. Its body measurements are about the same as those of truei, 
but it has a slightly longer tail and much smaller ears. The upper parts are 
dull brownish gray ; the lower parts and feet, white. 

Measurements. — Average of 10 adults from the type locality : Total length, 
191; tail, 99; hind foot, 21.6; ear from notch, 17.2 millimeters. Weight of 
adult male 25.7 grams. 

Distribution and habitat. — Rowley's deer mice have practically 
the same range as tmoei and nasutus in New Mexico, covering all the 
rough country in the Upper Sonoran Zone and all the zone except 
the open plains along the eastern edge of the State. (Fig. 24.) 
They do not occur in the purely Lower Sonoran valleys nor in the 
mountains above the Upper Sonoran. Locally, their distribution 
and abundance are modified by the character of the country, as they 
are partial to trees, rocks, cliffs, canyons, and rough, hilly country. 
They occupy practically all the juniper and nut pine country of 
New Mexico and are closely associated with these trees, from which 
they evidently derive much of their subsistence. The combination 
of rocks and the low open forest of juniper, nut pines, and blue 
oaks seems to afford a favorite habitat, as in such locations they are 
generally abundant. Camps and deserted houses are accepted in 
place of cliffs and even when not deserted are often invaded. 

General habits. — The only noticeable difference between the habits 
of Rowley's deer mice and the large-eared cliff mice is their adapt- 
ability to more varied conditions. The two are often caught at the 
same place and in the same traps on succeeding nights, but this species 
is also often taken in brushy and weedy ground where the others do 
not occur. 

In the Zuni Mountains Hollister found these mice abundant in the 
lava beds about springs, creeks, old dwellings, and ranch buildings. 
In the San Juan Valley Clarence Birdseye caught them on the brushy 
river flats among the dense growth of cottonwoods and willows, and 
also in the open at some distance from the cover of brush and timber. 
He also identified this species in the stomach contents of a gray fox. 




In the Animas Mountains they were common over the rocky and 
brushy slopes, where they were caught in traps baited with acorns 
and rolled oats. At Glenwood the writer found them common among 
the junipers and nut pines and also in the weedy bottoms along the 
river flats. In the Hondo Canyon Gaut caught one in an old 
deserted cabin and others in the clefts of lava rock forming the 
canyon walls. At the east base of the Capitan Mountains the writer 
found them abundant in the open forest of scrubby timber and caught 
them under logs and in the old brushy fence rows. In the Magdalena 
Mountains E. A. Goldman collected specimens from 6,500 feet to 
about 8,200 feet altitude. As the Upper Sonoran Zone in these arid 
ranges reaches to even a greater elevation on the hot slopes, it is 
probable that these mice were near the edge of their proper zone. 
Goldman also found them in abundance in the Mogollon, Burro, 
Florida, Big Hatchet, 
Animas, and San Luis 
Mountains, but no speci- 
mens were taken in the 
Lower Sonoran valleys be- 
tween these ranges. Gaut 
took a large series of them 
in the Organ, San Andres, 
Capitan, Jicarilla, Man- 
zano, and Sandia Moun- 
tains, and A. H. Howell 
collected them in the Sierra 
Grande and Raton Moun- 

Like other members of 
the genus, these mice are 
strictly nocturnal in habits 
and are rarely observed in 
the daytime unless their 
nests are broken into among 
rocks, in hollow logs or 
trees, or when they occa- 
sionally come to live in the 
camp wagon. They do not usually burrow in the ground but appro- 
priate any cavity that offers concealment and protection from their 
enemies, and long experience has taught them that rocky cliffs are 
the safest retreats. The fact that they feed extensively on seeds and 
nuts from trees and bushes and are so generally caught among the 
trees would indicate that they are partially arboreal in their habits, 
as are many of the members of the genus. 

Food habits. — Apparently the favorite foods of these mice are 
hackberries, juniper berries, pine nuts, and acorns, as the remains of 
these are the most conspicuous in the localities they inhabit. It is 
evident, however, that a great variety of the smaller seeds that 
leave less conspicuous remains for identification are eaten. Their 
stomach contents usually show a mass of finely masticated white 
dough with rarely a trace of green vegetation, insects, or any 

Figure 24. — Distribution of the Rowley cliff mouse, 
Peroviyscus boylei roioleyi, in New Mexico 


material that can be identified. They are fond of rolled oats and 
almost any kind of grain or seed used as trap bait. At Kingston 
E. A. Goldman found one that had been feeding on the purple pulp 
of ripe cactus fruit until its hands were stained with the juice, and 
its intestines were bright purple. In the Burro Mountains, in Sep- 
tember, he says they were feeding largely on acorns, as was shown 
by the quantity of freshly gnawed shells under rocks and logs near 
their holes. 

Breeding habits. — The mammae of the females, as in other species 
of the genus, are in 3 pairs — 2 pairs of inguinal and 1 pair of pec- 
toral — and as with related species it is probable that the usual num- 
ber of young to the litter is four to six. Mearns (1907, p. 419) 
records pregnant females taken on May 18, August 21, and October 
26, containing two and three fetuses, and G. S. Miller, jr. (1893, 
p. 333) mentions a specimen taken in Arizona by W. E. D. Scott on 
December 4, which contained three two-thirds grown embryos. A 
female kept in captivity gave birth to four young on May 2, 1921, 
one of the litter weighing 2.2 grams. The nests and young of such 
rock-inhabiting species are rarely found, but nursing females are 
frequently captured at all times during the spring, summer, and 
autumn, and occasionally in winter, and it is probable that several 
litters of young are produced in a season. It is not unusual to find 
nursing females among those that have not acquired the adult 
pelage, but the age at which this change occurs is not positively 
known. They are certainly prolific breeders if one can judge by 
their abundance in localities where they are well protected from 

Hibernation. — These mice do not usually acquire any surplus fat 
and are apparently equally active at all seasons. They may store 
up some food in the form of seeds and nuts for winter, but little 
is known of their storing habits. They seem to be able to obtain 
plenty of food, and the little pits over the surface of the ground 
where they have dug up seeds are in places numerous. 

Economic status. — As these deer mice are usually abundant ani- 
mals, able to adapt themselves to almost any environment where 
food and cover are available, they are likely to prove of considerable 
economic importance in agricultural districts within their range. 
They readily enter the borders of grainfields and feed both on the 
ripening grain and sprouting seeds. They may also live in grain 
shocks or stacks, or gather at granaries or bins that are not mouse 
proof, and in this manner cause some loss to the harvested crop. 
Only in cases of their unusual abundance would these depredations 
be of a serious nature, but with the destruction of their natural ene- 
mies such an abundance might be expected. They are preyed upon 
by nocturnal birds and mammals, from which their only protection 
is concealment. By removing all cover in the nature of weedy and 
brushy field borders, their enemies would be given a fair chance 
and their overabundance in most cases prevented. 

Where they prove troublesome about camps and houses a few 
mousetraps kept set in unused corners will conveniently dispose of 
them and often prevent serious mischief. 




Long-nosed Deer Mouse; Colorado Cliff Mouse 
Vesperimus nastitus Allen, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 3 : 299, 1891. 

Type.— Collected at Estes Park, Colo., January 20, 1S91, by W. G. Smith. 

General characters. — One of the large long-tailed, long-eared species of 
Peromyscus, about the size and general appearance of rowleyi, with ears almost 
as large as those of truei. The general coloration is dull and dark buffy gray, 
as in rowleyi. The name " long-nosed " refers only to the skull and not to 
the external appearance of the animal. 

Measurements. — Average of five typical adults : Total length, 195 ; tail, 99 ; 
hind foot, 23.2; and ear from notch, 19.7 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The long-nosed deer mouse (pi. 8, B) 
has much the same range as truei and rowleyi, with both of which 
it is sometimes confused, but from which it seems to be entirely 
distinct. (Fig. 25. ) > It is 
rather a scarce species, al- 
though its range covers 
practically all the rough 
Upper Sonoran country of 
New Mexico except the 
extreme northwestern and 
southwestern parts. There 
seem to be no specimens 
from the San Juan Valley 
or the Mogollon Mountain 
regions, but the absence of 
specimens does not prove 
the absence of the species. 
Like truei and rowleyi, in 
its zone, it is a species of 
the rocks, cliffs, and can- 
yons, not being found on 
the plains or in open val- 
ley areas. 

General habits. — Along 
the Pecos River these big- 
eared hairy-tailed m ice 
range entirely through Upper Sonoran Zone from Santa Rosa to 
Ribera and Glorieta, and up the river 8 or 10 miles above Pecos 
to their upper limit, where Weller caught several at 7,400 feet 
altitude at the extreme upper edge of the Upper Sonoran Zone 
among the last junipers and nut pines. At these localities they were 
found living in cliffs or on rocky slopes or among the juniper trees 
not far from rocks. In the Raton Range A. H. Howell took specimens 
at Folsom, and others near the summit of Emory Peak and in Oak 
Canyon, in every case among rocks or in canyons. He also collected 
them on Sierra Grande and near Catskill in similar situations. In 
the Capitan Mountains Gaut collected specimens on the rocky slopes 
from the base up to 9,000 feet on southwest slopes and to about 
8,000 feet on northwest slopes. None was found above these alti- 
tudes, although less trapping was done over the top of the range. 

Figure 25. — Distribution of the long-nosed deer 
mouse, Peromyscus nasutus, in New Mexico 


In this region he secured 20 specimens of nasutus among a much 
greater number of rouileyi. In the Jicarilla, Manzano, and San 
Andres Mountains he found them in about the same abundance and 
with similar range and habits. Surber took a few specimens in the 
Hondo and Rio Grande Canyons. Hollister collected them in the 
lava beds about Grant and also in the Datil Mountains. 

In all these localities, so far as the records show, they seem to 
have been associated with rocks among the nut pines and junipers 
and to have the same general habits as the large-eared truei, which 
is generally found in the same cliffs. 

Food habits. — In food habits nasutus is very similar to truei and 
apparently depends largely upon the seeds of juniper trees and nut 
pines. The stomach contents merely indicate that they are seed 
eaters like other species of the group. 

Breeding habits. — At Grant, on July 29, Hollister collected an old 
female that contained four large fetuses and at Sierra Grande on 
August 20 A. H. Howell collected one containing six fetuses. As in 
other species of the group the mammae are arranged in three pairs. 

Ecoriomic status. — Owing to the scarcity of individuals, this species 
is of less importance than truei or rowleyi of the same region, but 
for its numbers it is worthy of the same economic consideration. 


Desert Peromysctjs 

He&peromys eremicus Baird, Mammals of North America, p. 479, 1859. 
Peromyscus eremicus arenarius Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. 19: 138, 1896. 
Type from near El Paso, Tex. 

Type locality. — Old Fort Yuma, Calif. No type designated. 

General characters. — A medium-sized Peromyscus with long and very slender 
tail, medium-sized and thinly haired ears, and wholly naked soles of the hind 
feet. The sides are bright huffy ochraceous and the back buffy gray. The tail 
is indistinctly bicolor, being a little lighter below than above. 

Measurements. — Average of 10 adults from near the type locality : Total 
length, 183 ; tail, 101 ; hind foot, 20.5 ; ear from notch, 17.5 millimeters. Weights, 
21 to 26.6 grams. 

Distribution and habitat. — The desert Peromyscus inhabits the 
Pecos, Tularosa, and Rio Grande Valleys of southern New Mexico. 
(Fig. 26.) All the specimens examined are from localities in the 
extreme arid Lower Sonoran area. To a great extent they are also 
rock and cliff dwellers and are rarely found in the open valleys far 
from rocks or the protecting walls of can3 7 ons or cut banks. 

General habits. — Along the foothills of the Franklin, Organ, and 
San Andres Mountains, Gaut found them abundant in canyons and 
in rocky places, but scarce at any distance from cover. At Carlsbad 
the writer caught them in the rocks along the river just above town 
and also in similar places near El Paso and in the canyons of the 
Franklin Mountains. In the Rio Grande Valley E. A. Goldman 
caught them on the stony mesa near Las Cruces, in the rocky foot- 
hills just north of Garfield, and one at the base of a ledge in Lake 
Valley. At Las Palomas he found them common about the clumps 
of cactus, mesquite bushes, and small-leaved sumac along the base of 
the rocky bluffs of the river ; and at Cuchillo along the edge of the 
valley. They are most abundant where canyon walls furnish caves 
and shelves and numerous safe retreats in proximity to an abundant 




growth of desert shrubs and cactus. Owing to its strictly noc- 
turnal habits, the desert Peromyscus is rarely seen alive, but in its 
region the collectors' traps set under rocks and along shelves and 
in the small caves of cliffs usually yield more of this species of mouse 
than of any other. In fact, the ground seems to be carefully divided 
between it and the smaller species, which are almost invariably 
caught under cover of vegetation and distant from the rocks where 
eremicus never occurs. Active at all seasons of the year, in their 
low hot valleys the desert mice seem to make no distinction between 
summer and winter except in a fuller, more furry coat for the colder 

Food habits. — There is little to be said of the actual food of these 
mice other than that it consists mainly of seeds. The hard shells 
of hackberry nutlets are often found scattered over the rocks, but 
most of their food consists 
of small seeds and a few 
insects, which leave little 
clue to the species eaten. 
They are readily caught 
with rolled oats or any kind 
of grain, nuts, or melon or 
sunflower seeds, and 
Mearns reports that they 
are fond of salt pork. In 
captivity they drink water 
eagerly and often, but in 
the wild state must procure 
their moisture from succu- 
lent vegetation. 

Breeding habits. — In this 
group (subgenus Haplomy- 
lomys) there are only four 
mammae, arranged in two 
pairs of inguinal at the 
posterior part of the ab- 
domen. Seven pregnant 
females examined by 
Mearns at dates ranging 
from January 9 to April 15 contained, respectively, 4, 4, 3, 1, 4, 2, 
and 3 fetuses, and it seems safe to assume that four young is the 
nornial maximum number in this group. Immature specimens of 
various ages collected at all seasons would indicate a habit of peren- 
nial breeding that may make up for the small families and prevent 
the possibility of race suicide. In the mild climate of their region 
they are doubtless even more prolific than are the species of colder 
zones having larger families. 

Economic status. — As much of the country occupied by these mice 
is uninhabited desert, their abundance is of little consequence. 
Locally, however, where irrigated valleys are bounded by rocks and 
cliffs, they may do some damage about buildings, in gardens, and 
along the edges of fields. The clearing out of weedy and brushy 
cover along the field borders so as to expose them to their natural 

Figure 26. — Distribution of desert white-footed 
mice in New Mexico : 1, Peromyscus eremicus 
eremicus; 2, P. ertmicus anthonui. Type locality 


enemies, mainly the little owls, would in most cases prevent any 
further mischief. 


Anthony's Desert Mouse 

Hespcromys (Yespcrinvus) antlwnyi Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 4: 2, 1887. 

Type. — Collected at " Camp Apache," near Hachita, Grand County, N. Mex., 
May 10, 1886, by A. W. Anthony. 

General characters.— A slightly darker, richer-colored form of eremious, with 
ears slightly smaller, and buffy pectoral spot usually present. 

Measurements. — Average of 10 adults : Total length, 194 ; tail, 108 ; hind foot, 
21.5 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Anthony's desert mouse, a not very 
strongly marked form of the eremicus group, occupies the Deming 
Plains region of southwestern New Mexico, mainly in the Lower 
Sonoran Zone. (Fig. 26.) Most of the localities where specimens 
were taken are in foothills of the desert ranges or in rocky places 
on the plains. Its whole range seems to be close to the upper edge 
of the zone and in many localities it occupies ground where the Up- 
per and Lower Sonoran Zones meet and to some extent mingle. 

General habits. — In habits as in general characters these mice are 
so closely related to erenvicus as to be almost indistinguishable. 
They are rock and cliff dwellers to a great extent, but at Deming a 
few specimens were caught in the mesquite-covered sand dunes 
along the waterless Eio Mimbres. E. A. Goldman found them com- 
mon along the rocky base of the Little Florida Mountains 10 miles 
south of Deming and also near Redrock in the canyon of the Gila. 
Near Hachita he found them among the loose rocks and ledges 
along the slopes of the low mountains. One collected not far from 
Silver City by Streator is also referred to this form. Mearns took 
them at several localities along the Mexican boundary line where, 
he says (1907, p. 439), they were "restricted to bushy places and 
rocky buttes, none having been taken on the level sandy ground 
where most of our trapping was done." Beyond the nature of the 
ground that they occupy nothing has been recorded of the habits 
of these mice, but from their close relationship it is probable that 
their food and breeding habits do not differ at all from those of 


Buff-Breasted Canton Mouse 

Sltomys auripectus Allen, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 5 : 75, 1S93. 

Type.— Collected at Bluff City, Utah, May 14, 1892, by Charles P. Rowley. 

General characters. — A slender, long-tailed, and moderately large-eared 
mouse with bright golden-buff upper parts and usually a buff patch on the 
white breast : tail very hairy and ears mainly naked. 

Measurements. — Average of 10 adult topotypes: Total length, 178; tail, 93; 
hind foot, 20.8 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The beautiful buff-breasted canyon 
mouse was described by Doctor Allen from Bluff City, Utah, not far 
from the northwestern extremity of New Mexico ; and while there is 
but one actual record of occurrence in New Mexico, it undoubtedly 
inhabits the sandstone cliffs and canyons of the whole San Juan 




River Valley. (Fig. 27.) There are four specimens from Chaco 
Canyon, N. Mex., and others from Noland ranch, Utah, only 2*/> 
miles from the northwestern corner of New Mexico. They seem to 
be restricted to the Upper Sonoran Zone and apparently, more than 
any other species, are limited to cliffs and canyons. 

General habits. — W. W. Granger, who collected them in Chaco 
Canyon, says they are — 

relatively much less common than the other species of Peromysciis which were 
found associated with it, the ratio, as determined by trapping, being about 
1 to 5. I have always found it confined to rocky places. In Chaco Canon the 
pueblo ruins were its favorite abode. (Allen, 189G, p. 251.) 

Though farther west these mice are extremely numerous along the 
walls of the Grand Canyon they seem to be scarce in the New 
Mexico part of their range. Judged from field notes by Granger, 
Loring, and Cary, however, 
their habits seem to be the 
same as those of crinitus 
living in the canyons far- 
ther west. Cary found 
them in the ruined cliff 
dwellings at Mesa Verde, 
and their whole range is 
closely associated with the 
region of abundant pre- 
historic cliff houses. In the 
Grand Canyon, Merriam 
discovered that they were 
excellent climbers and shot 
one by moonlight as it 
peered down at him from 
the branch of a tree. 
(Merriam 1890a, p. 62.) 

Breeding habits. — Prac- 
tically nothing is known 
of their actual food or 
breeding habits. The num- 
ber of mammae is but four, 
and judged from other spe- 
cies in the group, the number of young may safely be assumed to be 
four or less in a litter. 

Economic status. — In the days of the cliff dwellers these mice may 
have been of great economic importance, and have caused much loss 
to the hoarded stores of food, but at the present day most of their 
range is so inaccessible that they are mainly interesting because of 
their beauty and the bit of wild life they contribute to a region full 
of wonders. 


Big-eaked Harvest Mouse 
Reithrodon megalotis Baird, Mammals of North America, p. 451, 1859. 

Type. — Collected between Janos, Chihuahua, and San Luis Spring, near border 
of Grant County, N. Mex., by C. B. R. Kennerly. Actual locality unknown but 

64909°— 32 11 

Figure 27. — Distribution of buff-breasted canyon 
mouse, Peromyscus crinitus auripectus, in New 



[No. 53 

probably in Sonora. Specimen without date but entered in United States 
National Museum catalogue in 1855. 

General characters. — In appearance very similar to a small house mouse, but 
distinguished superficially by the shorter and less tapering tail and more surely 
by the deeply grooved upper incisors. The upper parts are a rich brownish 
gray ; the lower parts, feet, and lower half of tail, white. 

Measurements. — Average of 6 adults from the type region : Total length, 140 ; 
tail, 71 ; hind foot, 17.6 ; ear from notch to tip, 12.5 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The big-eared harvest mice occupy the 
Lower Sonoran valleys of all southern New Mexico, including the 
Pecos, Tularosa, Rio Grande, and Gila Valleys and extend over the 
Deming Plain. (Fig. 28.) Specimens from Eoswell, from near 
the base of the Jicarilla Mountains, from the northern end of the 
San Andres Mountains, and from Silver City, Cliff, and the San 

Francisco Eiver Valley near 
Alma mark the northern 
limits of its range. Some 
of these localities, such as 
the Jicarilla Mountains, 
Mesa Jumanes, and Silver 
City, are above the limits 
of the Lower Sonoran Zone, 
but are in the area of in- 
tergradation with the more 
northern form, aztecus. 

General habits. — Some of 
the harvest mice build nests 
in bushes, but inegalotis and 
its subspecies seem to be 
entirely ground dwellers. 
They live under cover of 
grass, weeds, and such vege- 
tation as will protect them 
from enemies above and at 
the same time furnish 
ample food for their needs. 
They are generally caught 
in dry meadows or grassy 
or weedy borders of fields and roadsides where their narrow trails 
may be found by carefully parting the grass and searching oyer 
the surface of the ground. They also may be caught by setting 
traps at random on little bare spots under the cover of grass and 
fallen vegetation where no trace of their runways are seen, in fur- 
rows along the edges of fields or the spaces between growing grain. 
Old haycocks, weed piles, or rubbish heaps often furnish cover for 
their nests and burrows and are favorite points from which to 
make their excursions for food. In suitable localities they become 
very numerous, but over much of the desert country they are so scarce 
and scattered that only an occasional specimen can be secured. 

At Las Cruces E. A. Goldman caught them in grass and weeds 
along irrigation ditches in the valley, and at Las Palomas he took a 
few in patches of grass and weeds on damp ground near the river. 

Figure 28. — Distribution of harvest mice in New 
Mexico : 1, Reithrodontomys megalotis mega- 
lot is ; 2, R. megalotis aztecus; 3, R. albescens 
griseus; 4, R. montanu-s. Type localities circled 


Near Fairview and Kingston he caught them among the weeds and 
grass in fields of the open valleys and in similar situations at the sink 
of the Mimbres, near Kedrock, Gila, Pleasanton, Dry Creek, and on 
the Lang ranch in the southern part of the Animas Valley. 

At Silver City the writer caught one in the weeds at the edge of an 
orchard just above town, and Streater caught a specimen by the side 
of a stone wall near there. At Glenwood the writer found them 
abundant in the dense weedy growth along the river bottom and 
had no trouble in catching them there and at Cliff on the Gila River. 

In the Organ Mountains Gaut caught them in grassy gulches and 
under old rubbish around the ranches. At Tularosa he secured a 
series of specimens along the irrigation ditch at the edge of the 
valley, where they were taken in traps set in runways for cotton 
rats. At the northern end of the San Andres Mountains he took 
two specimens in a grassy bottom just west of the divide on the road 
to San Marcial, and at the southern end of the Mesa Jumanes he 
took two specimens in a patch of high grass. He also caught one 
in the Jicarilla Mountains near the rocks on one of the peaks, at 
about 8,000 feet, but was unable to catch any more in that locality. A 
few specimens that the writer caught in the southern end of the 
Guadalupe Mountains near the Texas-New Mexico line in Upper 
Sonoran Zone are also referred to this species. 

Food habits. — Harvest mice are mainly seed eaters. Their 
stomach contents usually show only a white starchy mass of finely 
masticated dough from the various seeds eaten or occasionally a 
little green pulp of the foliage with which they have varied their 
diet. The cut stems of grasses and small plants along the runways 
and on their feeding grounds are the only clue to their preference 
in food. As some of the species are excellent climbers, it is not im- 
probable that these also climb through the grass and weed tops for 
the seeds they prefer. They do not hibernate or become fat in 
autumn, but are active throughout the winter, when they probably 
get an abundance of ripe and fallen seeds from the surface of the 

Breeding habits. — Apparently these mice are prolific breeders, as 
young of various ages are caught throughout the summer. One old 
female taken by Gaut late in January, 1903, from among a pile of 
empty cans in the southern part of the Organ Mountains contained 
four fetuses. One collected at Silver City on May 10 and another 
taken at Fairview on October 13 also contained four fetuses each. 
The mammae of the females are in 3 pairs, 2 pairs of inguinal, 
and 1 pair of pectoral, and the normal number of young at a birth 
is probably 4 to 6. 

Economic status. — These mice would seem too small to be of much 
economic importance, but where they become excessively numerous, 
as they do in some sections, their inroads on growing grass and 
grain crops cause considerable loss. But if their natural enemies, 
the hawks, owls, weasels, and skunks, are carefully protected, there 
is little danger of their becoming a pest, and in case of an abnormal 
outbreak it is only necessary to clear the weedy borders of fields and 
waste places and give their enemies a chance to reach them. 


Azteo Harvest Mouse 
Reithrodontomys aztecus Allen, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 5: 79, 1893. 

Type. — Collected at Laplata, San Juan County, N. Mex., April 11, 1892, by 
C. P. Rowley. 

General characters. — Similar to megalotis 20 but slightly larger, with larger 
ears, longer fur, and duller gray of upper parts. 

Measurements. — Average of seven specimens from the type locality : Total 
length, 144 ; tail, 68 ; hind foot, 18 ; ear from notch, 13.8 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Aztec harvest mouse is an Upper 
Sonoran form of the megalotis group occupying the valley country 
of northwestern New Mexico and extending around the southern end 
of the Pecos Mountains and along their eastern base as far north 
as Guaclalupita on Coyote Creek. (Fig. 28.) It extends up the 
Rio Grande Valley to Espanola but apparently does not reach north- 
ward into the San Luis Valley. It inhabits the open country, where 
there is sufficient low vegetation for food and cover, and so far as 
known is restricted to the Upper Sonoran Zone. 

General habits. — The habits of this form do not differ noticeably 
from those of its near relative, megalotis, of the Lower Sonoran val- 
leys except as modified by somewhat different enviromnent. In 
December, 1893, Loring took 12 specimens in one night at Laplata, 
where he caught them among weeds and small willows in the center 
of a large field. At Aztec he found them common in a patch of high 
grass and cattails, which had evidently been marshy and wet dur- 
ing the spring, and caught them in traps set in Microtus runways. 
In 1908 Birdseye found them common at Farmington and Fruitland 
in the San Juan River Valley, where he also caught them in the 
runways of Microtus aztecus in grassy, swampy places, along ditch 
banks, and under the cover of tumble weeds, wild sunflowers, and 
scattered grain and alfalfa. 

White-footed mice and house mice as well as Microtus were caught 
in the same traps and in the same situations with the harvest mice, 
as the abundant cover and food furnish the ideal conditions under 
which all these rodents thrive. Hollister caught them along the 
weedy bottoms of the Puerco River flats at Wingate, in a saltgrass 
and tule marsh about a spring at the mouth of the Rio San Jose, and 
in weed and grass patches along the creek at Datil. Along the Zuni 
River a few miles below the New Mexico line, the writer caught one 
in the greasebush along the dry wash, where there was no permanent 
water nor grass cover near, so it is evident that at times they wander 
away from safe cover. At Espanola Gaut found them common along 
the valley bottom, and in the Manzano Mountains he took one speci- 
men at the edge of a little park high up on the east slope of the moun- 
tains where the growth of grass was dense over the surface of the 

The little runways of the Aztec mouse are easily distinguished 
from those of Microtus by being narrower and less worn, and by dis- 

20 The characters separating this form from megalotis are so slight that most authors 
have considered them indistinguishable, but Howell (1914), in a critical study of the 
group, has decided that they are sufficiently marked for the recognition of aztecus as a 


appearing in the more open growth. The nests are neatly formed 
balls of grass placed on the surface of the ground under cover of 
grass or weeds and entered by one or more tiny doorways at the 
sides near the ground. At Aztec Loring found these grass nests 
lined with soft down from cattails, but usually fine grass or plant 
fibers are used for lining the warm dry chamber within. These mice 
do not become fat or hibernate and seem to be equally active during 
the night and day both in summer and winter. 

Food habits. — The harvest mice are easily caught in traps baited 
with rolled oats, rolled barley, wheat, or any grain, but their native 
food seems to be mainly seeds. Cut grass stems found along their 
runways or about the burrows would indicate that grass seeds are 
a favorite food. At times a little green vegetation is also eaten, as 
shown by the color of the stomach contents. 

Breeding habits. — The Aztec harvest mice are prolific breeders ap- 
parently throughout the year. At Aztec on December 7 Loring 
caught a female containing one large fetus, and several of the others 
caught were apparently nursing young. At Fruitland Birdseye 
found a female October 31 containing seven large fetuses; at Es- 
panola Gaut collected a female in June with four fetuses nearly 
ready for birth. Near Monica Spring on the San Augustine Plains 
E. A. Goldman took one September 18 that contained six fetuses. 
The 6 mammae of the females are arranged in 2 pairs of inguinal and 
1 pair of pectoral and apparently the normal variation of young is 
from 4 to 6. 

Economic status. — As this subspecies occupies one of the most ex- 
tensive and important agricultural valleys in New Mexico, where it 
is particularly abundant, considerable economic importance may be 
ascribed to it. The dense vegetation along the irrigation ditches, 
field borders, and roadsides in the San Juan Valley furnish such per- 
fect cover and protection that the mice multiply at a rate calculated 
to do considerable damage to the grain and hay crops. Their 
depredations, however, will rarely if ever be found sufficiently serious 
to warrant the use of poisons or artificial means of destruction. Or- 
dinarily the mere cleaning up of waste places to expose them to their 
natural enemies will be found the most effective and economical 
means of controlling their abundance, with the added advantage of 
keeping down the weeds that are usually left to distribute seeds over 
the fields. Both mice and weeds can be kept under reasonable con- 
trol by a little work in mowing or burning or by close grazing of 
the waste places. 

Gray Harvest Mouse 
Reithrodontomys griseus Bailey, North Amer. Fauna No. 25, p. 106, 1905. 

Type. — Collected at San Antonio, Tex., March 4, 1897, by H. P. Attwater. 

General characters. — The smallest harvest mouse occurring in New Mexico, 
with relatively small hind feet, buffy-gray upper parts, and white lower 

Afeastwements. — Average of typical specimens : Total length, 142 ; tail, 60 ; 
hind foot, 15 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — A single specimen of the little gray 
harvest mouse taken at Santa Rosa marks the westernmost point 


of range of a common Texas species. It undoubtedly extends up 
the Canadian River Valley and across to Santa Kosa in the Pecos 
Valley, or it may occupy the whole of the Pecos Valley up to this 
point. (Fig. 28.) In Texas its range seems to be restricted to the 
Lower Sonoran Zone, and at Santa Kosa it probably represents the 
Lower Sonoran element, which is found there in dilute form. 

General habits.— -In October, 1902, Gaut collected a specimen of 
this mouse among the mesquite bushes on the flats near Santa Kosa, 
but in a large number of traps kept in the vicinity for some time 
he secured no other specimens; nor were other collectors able to 
secure any there the following year. It is evident that the species 
was then not common in that locality, and that the record marks 
an extreme limit of range. The species seems, however, to be rare 
or not often taken in any part of its range and is represented in 
collections by small series from widely scattered localities. It occu- 
pies the grassy prairies and field borders and seems to have much 
the same habits as the other species of harvest mice. 


San Luis Valley Harvest Mouse? 
Reithrodon montanus Baird, Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. 7 : 335, 1855. 

Type. — Collected in San Luis Valley near San Luis Lakes, Colo., August 29 
or 30, 1853 or 1854, by Mr. Kreutzfeldt under Capt. E. G. Beckwith. 

General characters. — Size intermediate between tbat of meffaloiis and griseus, 
colors paler than in megalotis, without dark dorsal stripe of griseus. 

Measurements. — Average of adults: Total length, 126; tail, 58; hind foot, 
17 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — A single specimen of the San Luis 
Valley harvest mouse sent to the Biological Survey f or identification 
by I). E. Merrill from the State College of New Mexico at Mesilla 
Park was collected by Fred I. Howarth on January 27, 1914, 3 miles 
south of Raton. (Fig. 28.) It is a female and rather small, meas- 
uring in total length, 121; tail, 51; hind foot, 16 millimeters, but was 
identified by A. H. Howell, who has monographed the genus (1914) 
as montanus, which adds this species, previously known only from 
the San Luis Valley in Colorado, to the State list of New Mexico. 

Beklandier's Cotton Rat 

Sigmodon lerlandieri Baird, Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. Proe. 7: 333, 1855. 
Sigmodon Kispidus pallidus Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. 20: 504, 1897 (ad- 
vance sheets). Type from near El Paso, Tex. 

Type. — Collected at Rio Nazas, Coahuila, Mexico, in 1853 by D. N. Couch. 

General characters. — A full-grown cotton rat might easily be mistaken for a 
half-grown brown rat, Rattus norvegicus, which it pomewhat resembles in size, 
color, and proportions, but with which it has no real relationship. The fur is 
coarse but full and soft in winter and thin and hispid in summer. The upper 
parts are buffy gray, the belly white, and feet light gray. The tail is thinly 
haired, tapering, light gray below, and blackish above. 

Measurements. — Average of five typical adults: Total length, 256; tail, 113; 
hind foot, 32.5 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The large gray Berlandier's cotton rat 
extends into New Mexico from the south and east up the Pecos River 




Valley to Carlsbad and Koswell, up the Tularosa Valley to Tularosa, 
and up the Rio Grande Valley from El Paso to Socorro and westward 
to near Deming. (Fig. 29.) It fills the Lower Sonoran valleys 
wherever there is sufficient grass or vegetation for food and cover but 
is absent from the more arid and barren areas. Its range is contin- 
uous along the river and stream valleys where bottom-land vegeta- 
tion furnishes the conditions required by its mode of life ; but some 
of the localities, such as the west slope of the Guadalupe Mountains, 
Tularosa, and Deming, probably represent more or less isolated 

General habits. — Over a wide range corresponding closely to the 
cotton-growing area of the United States, these rats are so common 
in the fields that they have acquired the name of cotton rats. The 
name is less appropriate 
for the New Mexico form, 
berlandieri, although in 
both the Pecos and Rio 
Grande Valleys they occur 
close to the edges of fields 
of cotton. They are gener- 
ally found in the grassy 
and weedy bottoms along 
the valleys, where they 
make numerous little roads 
or roadways under cover of 
grass or fallen vegetation. 
In fact their habits are 
very similar to those of 
the meadow mouse (Micro- 
tus) of the higher zones. 
They live in burrows un- 
derground or in nests of 
grass and soft fibers placed 
on the surface of the 
ground under cover of veg- 
etation, and from these 
nests and burrows their 
little roadways extend in all directions, often into the edges of fields 
of grain and other crops. Their roadways frequently lead into 
marshes or on to damp ground, but always avoid the open where 
cover and food are not abundant. 

Food Tidbits. — Their food consists chiefly of green vegetation, 
leaves, stems, and seeds of various plants along their runways. The 
grass stems are cut off at the bottom and drawn down by cutting 
away the lower sections until the leaves, flowers, and seeds are within 
reach. The cut stems are left scattered along the way. Grain at 
any stage from the green blades to the ripening heads is a favorite 
food. Alfalfa, too, is a very acceptable article of diet, and wherever 
they can the rats extend their runways into fields of alfalfa to feed 
upon the tender leaves and stems. 

Near Deming early in September, where E. A. Goldman found 
them common among the weeds and bushes around the sink of the 

Figure 29. — Distribution of cotton rats in New 
Mexico : 1, Sigmodon hispidus berlandieri ; 2, 
&'. minimus -minimus; 3, 8. minimus goldmani. 
Type localities circled 


Mimbres, their well-marked runways extended from the burrows 
throughout the neighboring vegetation. The owner of an alfalfa 
field reported some damage from them especially when the alfalfa 
was large. On examining a recently mowed field Goldman found 
signs of their work in the alfalfa, numerous stems having been cut 
off and partly eaten. At Carlsbad in July the writer found them 
feeding mainly on grass and alfalfa, but a few grasshoppers were 
also found in their stomachs. At Tularosa, where Gaut collected a 
large series of them in November, he reported them as cannibalistic 
in their tastes, fully two-thirds of those taken in his traps being 
partly eaten by their comrades. They seem fond of rolled oats, or 
any kind of grain or seeds used for trap bait, and are easily caught 
either in baited traps or traps set across runways where they will 
strike the trigger in passing. 

Breeding habits. — These cotton rats are extremely prolific breeders 
and not only have large litters of young but apparently produce 
several of them during a season. A female collected by E. A. Gold- 
man near Deming, September 1, 1908, contained four fetuses, and 
another which the writer collected at Carlsbad, September 11, con- 
tained 11 nearly matured fetuses, which was probably more than 
the normal number for a litter, as she had but 10 mammae. These 
were arranged in 1 pair of inguinal, 2 pairs of abdominal, and 2 
pairs of pectoral. The anterior pair were directly between the arms 
and may have been supernumerary although they were functional. 
Another female examined lacked this anterior pair. The young 
produced after September 9 would probably mean a second or third 
litter during a season. At Tularosa, on November 4 to 14, Gaut 
collected 4 adults, 4 full-grown young of the year, 4 half-grown 
young, 2 about one-third grown, and 2 about one-fourth grown, indi- 
cating very irregular breeding or two or three litters for each of the 
females during the breeding season. The breeding habits of these 
animals should be studied more closely, as they probably account for 
the excessive abundance of the species at certain times. In other 
parts of the country the cotton rats " have swarmed " in such num- 
bers as to have gained the reputation of migrating in vast armies, 
but probably, through the lack of some normal check on their abun- 
dance, they have merely multiplied at a normal rate. In such cases 
they have done great damage to growing crops, resulting in heavy 

Hibernation. — So far as known cotton rats do not hibernate and 
over most of their range are active through winter and summer. 
They never accumulate any noticeable fat and apparently do not 
even lay up stores of food for winter. In the southern part of their 
range it is probable that they even continue to breed throughout the 

Economic status. — The destruction of crops by cotton rats depends 
upon their abundance and their abundance depends largely upon the 
conditions affording cover and protection from their enemies. If 
wide borders of grass and weeds are left along the edges of fields and 
roadsides where they can safely multiply during a large part of the 
vear, they will almost certainly enter the fields and do more or less 


damage as the crops develop. If the irrigation ditches are allowed 
to become a tangle of weeds and vines, they form favorite homes and 
breeding grounds for the cotton rats, which perforate their banks 
with great numbers of burrows and sooner or later cause leakage 
or breaks. By keeping the vegetation closely grazed or mowed in all 
waste places and exposing the burrows and runways to the keen 
scrutiny of hawks, owls, weasels, and skunks, the cotton rats will 
rarely do any serious damage. In cases of extreme abundance they 
can be partially controlled by artificial means, but the preventative 
means will be found much more economical and successful if taken 
in time. 


Least Cotton Rat 

Sigmodon minima Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. 17 : 130, 1894. 

Type. — Collected at Upper Corner Monument of Mexican boundary line, Grant 
County, N. Mex., April 26, 1892, by E. A. Mearns and F. X. Holzner. 

General characters. — Tbis small, dark-gray cotton rat is readily distinguished 
from ierlandieri by its coarser fur, more hairy and concolor tail, and buff- 
colored belly. Its relatively short wide skull places it with another group 
distinct from liispidus. 

Measurements. — The type of minimus measures : Total length, 223 ; tail, 94 ; 
hind foot, 28 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The least cotton rat has an irregular 
and probably broken distribution in the low mountains and valleys 
of southern New Mexico, Arizona, and northern Mexico. (Fig. 29.) 
The type and one other specimen taken at Monument No. 40, where 
the boundary line turns abruptly southward, a series of specimens 
collected at the Lang ranch at the southern end of the Animas Valley, 
and others collected at Silver City are at present all the records for 
New Mexico. These localities are all in the Upper Sonoran Zone, to 
which the species apparently is restricted. 

General habits. — In Animas Valley E. A. Goldman collected three 
specimens August 10 and 14, 1908, at the Lang ranch. He found 
them living in thick grass on moist ground in the Cienega. They 
had conspicuous and well-worn runways leading from their burrows 
out over the surface of the ground. Sometimes their runways 
extended in opposite directions from a single hole and curved around 
crossing one another, or were connected by crosslines forming a net- 
work of trails apparently made by one animal, for when one was 
caught at a burrow no others were taken in that vicinity. Cut-grass 
stems were found scattered along these runways where the cotton rats 
had been feeding. At Silver City the writer found a colony living 
in a weedy field just north of town where the characteristic trails 
were found running under weeds and grass, and leading to numerous 
burrows in the ground under a big bunch of beargrass (Nolina 
lindheimeri) . These runways were strewn with numerous stems of 
green plants, which had been cut for food. One of the females 
caught on May 10, 1906, contained three small embryos, and another 
four. Very little is known of the habits of this species, and as it 
lives in a region where agriculture is rarely attempted it is at present 
of little economic importance. 


Goldman's Cotton Rat 
Sigmodon minimus goldmani Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 26 : 132, 1913. 
Ttype— Collected 7 miles north of Palomas, N. Mex., October 28, 1909, by 
E. A. Goldman. 

General characters. — Almost black oyer the upper parts, with black ears and 
tail and very dark feet; belly, rich fulvous. 

Measurements. — The type measures : Total length, 256 ; tail, 107 ; hind foot, 
31 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The little hairy-tailed Goldman's cot- 
ton rat is probably local in distribution but with such marked char- 
acters that the specimens can not be referred to minimus. The type 
and two topotypes were collected by Goldman along the edges of 
the marsh at a hot spring 7 miles north of the town of Palomas. 
(Fig. 29.) They were taken from runways that extended from holes 
along the bank out into the marsh among the grass and sedges. 
Some of the runways led through shallow w r ater to a nest of grass 
and plant stems out among the cattail flags. The nest, although not 
very old, was apparently unoccupied at the time he found it. The 
runway led from beneath up into an opening in the center about 4 
inches in diameter, lined with small sections of salt grass (Dis~ 
tichlis spicata). Freshly cut steins of this grass were found in a 
few places along the runways and the stomachs of the specimens 
taken were filled with grain and white pulp in separate masses and 
varying proportions, showing that more than one kind of food was 


Subfamily NEOTOMINAE Merriam 

Wood Rats, Pack Rats, Trade Rats 

General characters and habits of the subfamily. — This subfamily of native 
ratlike animals is represented in New Mexico by 10 species and subspecies, 
some of which occur in almost every part of the State. They belong to a 
purely American group of rodents, differing more widely from the introduced 
Old-World rats in structural characters and in habits than in general ap- 
pearance. They are large-eared, bright-eyed, soft-furred little animals and of 
interesting habits, which have been the subject of numerous popular articles 
of somewhat sensational character. Two subgenera are represented in New 
Mexico, those with the short-haired, round tails of the subgenus Neotoma, and 
two species of the bushy-tailed subgenus Teonoma. 

A passion for building houses is common to all the species and often induces 
them to carry away any article of convenient size for building material. This 
has given them their local names of " pack rat " and " trade rat " and has fur- 
nished the foundation for much romance regarding their habits of borrowing 
and returning property that does not rightfully belong to them. 

Aside from their characteristic houses, which differ somewhat with the 
various species, their presence can almost always be determined by the 
elongated pelletlike excrement neatly placed in out-of-the-way corners under 
or near the houses or rock dens. This is so characteristic that it can rarely 
be mistaken for any other animal and so durable that it remains for years 
in dry situations, sometimes accumulating in caves or sheltered places under 
the rocks in masses of a bushel or more. Its appearance generally gives some 
clue as to its age and as to whether the rats are occupying the dens or not, 
and in this way it serves an important purpose to the experienced collector 
who places his traps where the freshest signs are found. Another peculiar 
and very characteristic indication of the presence of wood rats in rocky situa- 
tions is seen in white streaking or capping of rocky points near their dens. 
This is a calcareous deposit from the urine of the wood rats, which, like that 
of many desert animals, is usually thick and milky with mineral salts. The 




sharp points and edges of rocks seem to be the favorite place of deposit of this 
liquid, which gradually builds up a whitish calcite layer over the rock surface 
that often extends down in long white streaks. A cross section of this deposit 
may be 2 or 3 millimeters in thickness, and it is as hard as the usual calcite 
formation around hot springs and of much the same general appearance. It 
remains for years, if not permanently, on the rocks, and a cliff or canyon 
wall well streaked or capped with white indicates an abundance of some 
species of wood rats. The habit seems common to all of the rock-dwelling 

Wood rats are cleanly animals and if larger would be valuable as game, 
as their flesh is tender and of excellent flavor. With many tribes of Indians 
they are a popular game animal and by testing most of the species the writer 
has found them very good eating. An external musky odor does not pene- 
trate beneath the skin. 

In the present treatment of the species and subspecies of wood rats in New 
Mexico, Goldman's monograph (1910) of the group has been followed as to 
classification and nomenclature. The ranges have been worked out in some- 
what greater detail and gen- 
eral habits of the species in- 



Hoary Woon Rat 

Neotoma micropus canescens 

Allen, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. 

Hist. 3: 285, 1891. 

Type. — Collected at North 
Beaver Creek, Beaver County, 
Okla., October, 1889, by Jen- 
ness Richardson and John Row- 
ley, jr. 

General characters. — One of 
the largest and palest of the 
New Mexico wood rats of the 
round-tailed group. The upper 
parts are pale, ashy gray ; the 
lower parts and feet white, the 
white reaching to the skin on 
throat and breast ; the tail, dark 
gray above and white below. 
From albigula, which overlaps 
the range of this species along 
its upper borders, it is easily 
distinguished by larger size, especially larger hind feet, thicker tail, and much 
grayer coloration. 

Measurements. — Adults : Total length, 330 ; tail, 137 ; hind foot, 36 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The hoary northern form of the wood 
rat of a wide-ranging Lower Sonoran species extends up the two 

?reat valleys of New Mexico, the Pecos, and the Rio Grande. 
Fig. 30.) In the Pecos Valley it reaches to Santa Rosa and thence 
eastward down the Canadian Valley. Up the Rio Grande Valley 
it reaches commonly to Socorro and scatteringly to Rinconada, and 
extends westward at least as far as Deming. It occupies mainly open 
Lower Sonoran valleys, and unlike most of the species of wood rats, 
its home is rarely associated with rocks or cliffs. 

General habits. — The hoary wood rats are abundant in the open 
arid valleys where cactus abounds and are usually found associated 
either with cactus or some of the thorny desert shrubs. Their fa- 
vorite location for a house is in the midst of a bed of large prickly- 

Figurb 30. — Distribution of hoary wood rat, 
Neotoma micropus canescens, in New Mexico 


pears or thorny bushes, but they often build around the base of the 
cane cactus (Opwitia orb ores cens) , in a group of Spanish-bayonets, 
or in an allthorn (Koeberliniai spinosa), where an abundance of 
cactus can be found for building material. Sometimes their houses 
stand in the open and, while protected only by their thorny walls, are 
so well built that they become large and symmetrical and are rarely 
broken into by enemies. A well-built house in the open is usually 
conical in form, 3 or 4 feet high, and about as wide at the base, 
but those built in or around cactus or in thorn bushes are less sym- 
metrical and often lean against some natural support or are wide 
and low to suit their surroundings. 

At Carlsbad in 1892 Dutcher found a few of the houses and col- 
lected specimens of the wood rats. In 1901 the writer found them 
abundant all over that part of the Pecos Valley living in stick, 
thorn, and rubbish houses under mesquites, cactus, allthorn, blue- 
thorn, and other thorny bushes, but they were not found reaching 
into the foothills of the mountains where the white-throated wood 
rat occupied the cliffs and rocky situations. A few hoary wood rats 
were collected in the open valley near Roswell, and in 1902 Hollister 
found them abundant along the Pecos Valley from Roswell to Fort 
Sumner and Santa Rosa living in houses among the mesquite bushes, 
and sometimes built over burrows of old kangaroo-rat dens. 

At Santa Rosa they were fairly, common, usually living in houses 
built among the cactus and often close to cliffs occupied bjr albigula. 
One small and very symmetrical house about 2% feet high, built 
among the low mesquite bushes, was composed largely of dry balls 
of manure, a few sticks and bones, and a quantity of old shotgun 
cartridges picked up at a duck blind near by. Near Cuervo, about 
20 miles east of Santa Rosa, where low mesquite bushes and cactus 
patches abound, these wood rats are as common as in the Lower 
Pecos Valley. A dozen of their houses were within 30 rods of our 
camp, while in the rocks just beyond, the white-throated was equally 
common. Here their houses were usually placed under bunches of 
cane cactus (Opuntia arborescens) and largely composed of its fal- 
len segments, seed capsules, and tufts of dry thorns mixed with cow 
chips, sticks, and bones. Some of these houses were entered by half 
a dozen doorways, either at the sides or under the edges on the sur- 
face of the ground and leading to internal chambers both above and 
below the surface of the ground= 

Two of these houses were torn apart to make it possible to study 
their internal structure. The occupants were driven out and photo- 
graphed as they ran about half dazed in the glare of daylight. At 
first they tried to run to other houses and when intercepted and 
driven back ran about much bewildered, though they did not seem 
greatly frightened. One climbed up a cactus bush, ran over the 
branches, and jumped from branch to branch, paying no attention 
to the thorns. When poked with a stick it ran about and then jumped 
to the ground but quickly climbed back up the cactus over the mass 
of thorns, its delicate pink feet apparently never getting scratched. 
It was as bright and pretty as a squirrel or chipmunk and soon became 
so tame that it would let the writer almost touch it. The chambers 
in the house were perfectly dry, although there had been a hard rain 
during the previous night. A badger had been digging close to one 


of these houses but evidently had kept at a safe distance from the 
thorny structure, although it must have been sorely tempted by the 
knowledge of a savory meal within the walls. 

In the Tularosa Valley the characteristic cactus houses of this 
species are common over practically all the open valley, but no wood 
rats have been collected except in its northern portion. Near Tula- 
rosa, Gaut found them common along the irrigation ditches and over 
the low foothills along the edge of the valley, and he found old 
houses near the salt marshes and lava beds in the middle part of the 
valley. Gaut also collected a few scattered specimens of this species 
in the edge of the Upper Sonoran Zone at the northwest base of the 
Capitan Mountains, at the western base of the Jicarilla Mountains, 
and at the east base of the Manzanos. Near the Jicarilla Mountains he 
caught two at a ranch house, where the ranchman informed him they 
had been living for some time. In the Rio Grande Valley houses 
built in the characteristic fashion of this species are common along 
the sides of the valley and out over the mesa east of Mesilla Park 
and northward along the valley. E. A. Goldman collected a speci- 
men near the eastern base of the Magdalena Mountains at an altitude 
of 6,400 feet. It was shot while sitting at the entrance of its burrow 
under a large pricklypear, where it evidently had just begun a new 
house, a few pieces of cactus having been placed along the sides of 
its runaway a short distance from the burrow. Near Ojo de la 
Parida, 10 miles northeast of Socorro, he caught two of these wood 
rats at burrows in clumps of coarse grass in the sand dunes. Here 
little sand mounds were used as a foundation for the houses ; one of 
these was entered by five or six openings, mainly near the base of 
the mound, while near the top were small accumulations of sticks 
and cow chips. In the rocks not far away lived the white-throated 
wood rats {Neotomm aXbiguTu albitfula). 

Over the mesa west of San Marcial the writer found the character- 
istic houses of the hoary wood rat under numerous bunches of 
pricklypear and about the base of banana yuccas {Yucca baccata) or 
Spanish-daggers (Y. macrocarpa) . Near Deming, in 1908, E. A. 
Goldman collected one specimen of this species in a brush patch near 
the sink of the Rio Mimbres, but in the same general region he found 
the white-throated species much commoner. From Deming westward 
the white-throated rat seemed to adopt the habit of the hoary wood 
rat, living in houses built in the open valley. Many of these houses, 
however, were probably originally built by the hoary wood rats and 
later, when deserted, taken possession of by their white-throated 
neighbors. In 1908 both species were scarce over the Deming Plains, 
but the previous year when the writer passed through without stop- 
ping to collect, some species of wood rat was so unusually abundant 
that the houses were conspicuous on every side, and much of the vege- 
tation had been gnawed and some of it killed by them. This was evi- 
dently one of the wood-rat waves of abundance, which occasionally 
sweep over the desert, soon followed by an unusual scarcity of the 
species. It is likely that the hoary wood rat reaches considerably 
farther west than Deming, although no specimens are available to 
prove it. Except as they adapt themselves to open country they do 
not differ greatly in habits from the white-throated, but the two 
species seem rarely, if ever, to occupy the same ground. 


Food habits. — The food of these wood rats consists largely of the 
flesh and fruit of cactus, but includes also a great variety of green 
vegetation, fruit, and seeds. The sugary pods and little beanlike 
seeds of the mesquite bushes are always acceptable food where they 
can be found and are sometimes stored away in considerable quanti- 
ties in the houses. Usually the wood rats live in wide stretches of 
arid valley, where no water can be had except at brief intervals fol- 
lowing the occasional rains. At times many months must elapse when 
their only water is contained in their desert food plants. During the 
long dry seasons they seem to depend largely on the pulp of cactus 
plants for both food and moisture, but sometimes many of the bushes 
are stripped of their bark during the drought. Mearns says (1907, 
p. 472) that they are " usually found about streams and springs, often 
in the fringe of cottonwood and willow growth along rivers," but 
the writer's experience has been that they are also a wide-ranging 
open-valley species. 

Breeding habits. — Mearns records a female, taken June 24 at Fort 
Hancock on the Eio Grande, that contained three large fetuses. As 
in the case of other species of wood rats the young probably vary 
from two to four in number. The mammae of the females are ar- 
ranged in two pairs, close together between the hind legs. 

In the Biological Survey collection there are specimens of nursing 
young taken at Einconada, April 23 5 of about quarter-grown young 
taken at Cuervo, June 14; and at west base of Capitan Mountains, 
June 25 ; others a little larger at the same place, June 25 and 26 ; and 
others half and two-thirds grown, June 27 and 29 and July 2. At 
Carlsbad specimens of quarter and half grown young were taken, 
September 22 and 23 ; and at Fort Sumner a litter of three-quarter- 
grown young was taken, September 25. At Ancho a nursing young 
was taken, September 23, and a nearly full-grown young the next day. 
At Tularosa a half-grown young was taken, November 21. From 
these records it seems probable that two or more litters are produced 
in a season, or at least that the breeding season is continuous through- 
out more than half of the year. 

Economic status. — As most of the country where these wood rats 
live is extremely arid and at present of little agricultural value, the 
animals are practically harmless and add an interesting feature to 
the deserts. Locally, however, they do considerable mischief along 
the edges of irrigated fields and about gardens, houses, and buildings. 
They have been accused of killing chickens, but this is far more likely 
to be the work of the common brown rat, which is a notorious chicken 
thief. The wood rats rarely remain about occupied buildings for 
any length of time, and they seem to be an easy prey to dogs and 
cats. Their houses are so conspicuous that they can be easily located 
and torn to pieces and the rats left defenseless against a host of 
eager enemies. If cactus ever becomes a farm product of the arid 
region, it will then be necessary to keep the number of wood rats 
reduced to a minimum, as they would certainly injure the cactus 
crop more than any other species of rodent. 

Their principal enemies are wild cats, ringtails (Bassariscus), 
foxes, coyotes, hawks,* and owls, and in the country where they 
abound their remains are more abundant under hawk and owl nests 
than are those of any other mammal. 

North American Fauna No. 53. U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. Biological Survey 

Plate 9 

A, White-throated wood rat (Neotoma albigula albigula) taken at base of Santa Rita Mountains, 
Ariz.; B, Colorado bushy-tailed wood rat (A T . cincrea orolestes). (Photo by E. E. Warren) 




White-Throated Wood Rat 

Neotoma albigula Hartley, Calif. Acad. Sci. Proc. (2), 4: 157, May 9, 1894. 
Neotoma intermedia angusticeps Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 9 : 127, 1894 ; 
type from Grant County, N. Mex. 

Type— Collected at Old Fort Lowell, Ariz., June 14, 1893, by W. W. Price and 
R. L. Wilbur. 

General characters. — Size medium for the group of round-tailed wood rats ; 
upper parts brownish or buffy gray ; lower parts white or occasionally buft'y ; 
throat and breast pure white to base of fur ; tail bicolor. 

Measurements. — Average total length, 328; tail, 152; hind foot, 33.5; ear from 
notch, 30 millimeters ; weight of adult female, 188 grams. 

Distribution and habitat. — The white-throated wood rats (PI. 9, A) 
cover a large part of New Mexico, mainly in the Upper Sonoran Zone. 
(Fig. 31.) In northwestern New Mexico they give place to lepida 
and in northeastern to 

warre?vi/ otherwise they ■ — - - ^fe— . 

occupy the whole Upper 
Sonoran area of the State, 
except the open part of the 
Staked Plains, where no 
species of wood rat occurs. 
In places their range ex- 
tends into the edge of the 
Lower Sonoran Zone but 
not to any great extent, 
as that zone is mainly 
occupied by the slightly 
larger canescens. They 
show a strong preference 
for rough country and 
when possible choose rocks, 
and cliffs for their homes. 
Where these are not avail- 
able they often adapt 
themselves to such pro- 
tective cover as is offered 
by logs, hollow trees, cac- 
tus patches, brush, and old 

General habits. — Like all wood rats these white-throated rats are 
great builders, and whether the location selected is in the rocks or 
in the cactus patches the building goes on industriously, but with 
suitable adaptation to local conditions. Where rocks or cliffs are 
to be found they are chosen, presumably for the protection they 
afford. Clefts and shallow caves in the cliffs are favorite strong- 
holds, and in some of these the rats have gone on building up their 
piles of thorny rubbish until they have astonishing accumulations. 
Caves containing 20 to 50 bushels of material that the rats have car- 
ried in bit by bit are not uncommon, and some are filled entirely with 
thorny masses, barricades that prevent the larger animals from pene- 
trating to the nest chambers back in the rocks. More commonly, 
however, the dens chosen are cracks and narrow clefts, over the en- 

Figure 31. — Distribution of the white-throated 
and Warren's wood rats in New Mexico : 1, 
Neotoma albigula albigula; 2, N. albigula war- 
reni. Type locality circled 


trances to which their thorny building material is piled to block 
the way or conceal them from enemies. Some of their building 
seems useless and merely the result of an instinct to pile up whatever 
material can be found of a size convenient for handling- These use- 
less beginnings are not carried very far, however, and the successful 
houses are occupied and added to by generation after generation of 
industrious tenants. 

Houses in the open or away from rocks are usually begun about 
the base of a hollow tree, over an old log or stump, or in the center 
of a thorny bush or bunch of cactus. A house begun in a bush or 
cactus patch is more apt to grow into a symmetrical structure than 
one built in a more sheltered situation. It often rises in a peaked 
dome 4 or 5 feet high and as wide across at the base, with numerous 
doorways at the sides or underneath the edges. Such a house changes 
form in time, settling with wear if unused, or if occupied by a 
vigorous family rising with the accumulation of constantly added 
material into a higher and sharper peak. 

The building material used by the rats is dependent on what is 
available in the vicinity and varies endlessly. Sticks, stones, bones, 
cow chips, horse manure, cactus stems, thorny branches, and shells of 
the various fruits and seeds are the commonest materials used. In 
many cases, however, stray articles found about camp sites or houses 
are taken — empty cartridges, forks, spoons, pieces of dishes, bits of 
cloth, rope, or any material that can be conveniently transported. 
The small traps of the collector are frequently gathered up by the 
wood rats and placed on the houses to help swell their height. 

No two houses are alike, and some are so different as to be worthy 
of separate description. In the San Andres Mountains Gaut de- 
scribed one house as built mainly of dried horse manure, pieces of 
spiny cactus, and branches of ocotillo and allthorn, the spiniest bushes 
of the region. On Cactus Flat, between the Gila and San Francisco 
Rivers, these rats had large houses in almost every bunch of bush 
cactus (Opwntia schottii), and here they were made almost entirely 
of short spiny branches of the cactus and as many dried cow chips as 
could be gathered within a convenient radius. This grove of densely 
spiny cactus was a veritable paradise for wood rats, as it evidently 
furnished them unusual protection from enemies and the houses were 
large and well inhabited. During a night's camp on this flat the 
writer set five traps at the five houses and secured a good specimen 
in each trap. 

Only a few miles distant from Cactus Flat, at Glenwood, on the 
San Francisco River, the wood rats living in the brushy banks of 
the gulches had habits so different that the writer could hardly 
believe they were the same species. The houses were placed in 
weedy or brushy places or under trees and were often 3 or 4 feet 
high, conical, and sharp-peaked, with several holes entering the 
sides and base. The building material consisted of cow chips, sticks, 
bones, stones, leaves, and such scattered rubbish as could be gathered 
together. Well-worn runways led off on various sides to the feeding 
grounds in neighboring brush and weed patches. One nest was 
found 20 feet from the ground among the grapevines on a willow 
tree, a location unusual with this species but common to some others. 


On the plains about Deming rat houses attributed to this species, 
but from which no specimens were collected, were abundant in the 
cactus, mesquite, and allthorn bushes, and many were unusually 
large. Some were estimated to contain 6 to 10 bushels of material. 
They were made largely of sticks, stones, cow chips, bones, cactus 
thorn bushes, and the dagger-pointed leaves of the Spanish-bayonet 
(Yucca radios®). The houses placed in cactus and allthorn bushes 
especially bristle with thorny points. One house observed by the 
roadside where the usual building material was scarce was composed 
largely of dry cakes of mud from the ruts of the road where wagons 
had passed after a rain. 

At Gallup one of the houses photographed was built around the 
base of a hollow juniper tree, and was composed of 2 or 3 bushels 
of sticks, stones, bones, cactus, old rags, bits of rope, and other 
rubbish. Under the tree was a big nest of finely shredded juniper 
bark like a great ball of tow. There was an opening in the side 
and a warm soft nest in the center just big enough for the rat to curl 
up in. A good supply of food was cached in the cavity near the 
nest, and all preparations were made for a comfortable winter. It 
seemed too bad to catch this thrifty young bachelor, but it was needed 
for a specimen and also to decide which species was to be credited 
with this well-built house and nest. 

At San Rafael the white-throated wood rats were abundant in 
the rough and broken lava beds, which furnish innumerable cracks 
and crevices for safe retreats. Here the houses of sticks and rub- 
bish were merely filled into the cracks to block the opening against 
enemies larger than themselves. In the limestone cliffs near by their 
usual accumulations of building material were packed into the cor- 
ners to suit each situation and serve as protection where it was 
needed. Other houses were found on the valley slope under the 
cane cactus (Opuntia arborescens) . In the Burro Mountains E. A. 
Goldman found their nests among the foothills about the base of 
tree yuccas and one at the base of a hollow oak. In the Rio Grande 
Valley other houses were found placed in dense clusters of salt- 
bush (Atriplex), small-leafed sumac (Rhus microphylla), and the 
three-lobed sumac (Rhus tvilobata). In the Chama Valley near 
Abiquiu their houses were often placed about the base of juniper 
trees, and the burrows entered the ground underneath and between 
the roots of the trees from all sides. In the cavity under one of these 
trees the writer found a soft nest of juniper bark and rabbit fur from 
which the rat was driven out. Other houses were located in patches 
of cane cactus. These various examples show the wide range of 
adaptation to environment and the strong home-building instinct of 
these wood rats. 

The internal structure of the house varies somewhat but usually 
consists of one or several rooms or nest cavities, sometimes all above 
ground and again part or all below the surface and well back along 
burrows, which reach under tree roots or under rocks. The nests are 
usually of finely shredded bark or other soft plant fibers and are 
often thick and warm and always soft and clean. Sometimes they 
are covered over but more often are open and cup-shaped like a 
robin's nest, just large enough for the rat to curl up in. Some of the 

64909°— 32 12 


house chambers are filled with food of various kinds brought in to 
be eaten at leisure or stored for future use. The rats dig extensive 
burrows, when necessary, but sometimes build their houses on old 
mounds of kangaroo rats and use the burrows thus provided for their 
underground nest and storage chambers. 

The wood rats are expert climbers. Much of their food is gathered 
from bushes, trees, and vines, and occasionally they are found living 
in hollow trees at considerable heights from the ground. At Silver 
City A. K. Fisher saw one thrust its head out of a woodpecker's hole 
in a nut pine 10 or 12 feet from the ground, and the writer has shot 
them in oaks 20 feet from the ground where they were running about 
in the branches. They even climb the spiniest cactus trees and run 
over the thousands of needle-pointed spines without the slightest 
hesitation or inconvenience, notwithstanding the fact that the soles of 
their feet are as naked and delicate as the palm of one's hand. 
Though they are constantly running over a great variety of cactus 
plants, gathering and eating their fruit or gnawing the fleshy stems 
for food, the writer has never detected a scratch or thorn in the 
delicate feet and noses of the hundreds of specimens collected. 

The wood rats are usually nocturnal but not entirely so, as they are 
often seen running about in full daylight, especially early in the 
evening. Apparently they are active throughout the night, however, 
and in a vacant house or camp where they have taken up quarters it 
is difficult to sleep on account of the noisy disturbance that they 
keep up, dragging and rattling their material over the floors. So far 
as the writer is aware they make no vocal sound except a sharp scream 
of rage or pain when caught in a trap or injured. A thumping or 
drumming sound seems to be used in signaling one another. This is 
often attributed to the striking of their tails upon the floor but is 
really made by striking with the soles of the hind feet. 

Food habits. — The food of these wood rats as shown by the supplies 
stored, the remains of meals, and the contents of stomachs examined 
includes a great variety of plants and not only fruits and seeds but a 
large proportion of green vegetation. They are inquisitive and 
always ready to test any new substance that may prove edible, and 
camp or household supplies are likely to prove acceptable to their 
taste. The green pulp of cactus plants is one of their staple articles 
of diet, and in dry seasons when other moist vegetation is scarce and 
the wood rats are abundant the cactus plants often suffer and some are 
actually killed. 

At Las Palomas, in the Rio Grande Valley in October, 1909, E. A. 
Goldman reported two species of pricklypear, Opuntia macrocentra 
and O. cyclodes, with many of the flattened joints cut off or eaten 
and the spiny rims or crescent-shaped fragments left piled on the 
houses for building material or accumulated about the entrances 
to the burrows. Many of the half -eaten joints of the cactus are left 
to heal over and keep on growing in their mutilated state. At Santa 
Rosa and many other localities the writer has found the cane cactus 
girdled and many of the plants killed by the wood rats, which had 
eaten the outer pulp from the woody stems. Near Socorro other 
species of cactus were found eaten by the wood rats, including the low 
fleshy Echinocereus, in which the stems were hollowed out from near 
the ground and the whole inside of the plant eaten. Cactus fruit of 


almost every kind and description is eagerly eaten and forms in 
places a large part of the food. The half pulpy fruit of the cane 
cactus is eaten, but the juicy fruit of many species of pricklypear 
seems to be preferred. In many cases wood rats have been found 
so permeated with the purple juice of these fruits that the intestines 
and even the muscular walls of the abdomen were stained a bright 
purple. The fleshy part of the cactus fruit seems to be preferred, but 
the seeds are probably also eaten or else stored for future use. The 
base of yucca and agave leaves are often cut out and eaten, and the 
tender tips of tall or arborescent yucca plants are occasionally reached 
by cutting a spiral stairway through the leaves. The leaves of bear- 
grass (Nolina) and sotol are also cut off and the white starchy bases 
eaten, while the tough blades are used for building material. The 
bark of numerous shrubs and trees is often stripped off and eaten to 
such an extent as to kill the plants. Mesquite, acacias, allthorns, 
ocotillo, sumac, and other bushes are thus killed, especially during the 
dry seasons. At Cuchillo in October, 1909, E. A. Goldman reported a 
5-year-old apple tree from the base of which the bark had been 
gnawed by the wood rats in a way to injure seriously the tree. A 
runway passed close by, and the wood rats had stopped to feed on the 
green bark. A trap set at the gnawed place proved the gnawer to 
be of this species. As no other trees in the orchard were found 
injured this could not be considered a regular habit of the wood rats. 
Green leaves of various plants are extensively eaten, but usually 
the green mass in the stomach contents gives no clue to the species of 
plants. Berries, fruits, seeds, nuts, and acorns are also acceptable 
foods. Apparently every species of acorn coming within their range 
is taken whenever f ound and the empty shells left about the wood-rat 
houses. At Fairview, E. A. Goldman found a trail leading from one 
of the houses to the base of a walnut tree, where the ground was 
covered by a heavy crop of fallen nuts, which the wood rats were 
apparently gathering ; and along the lower slopes of the San Mateo 
Mountains he was told that they gathered large quantities of pinyon 
nuts. A Mexican told him of gathering several bushels of these nuts 
by going from one house to another and robbing the storerooms in 
the interiors. He said that as much as 2 quarts were often found at 
one place. Juniper berries of various species are also a favorite food, 
and both the sweet outer pulp and the kernel of the hard-shelled 
seeds are eaten. The writer has found considerable quantities of 
these berries, sometimes still attached to the green twigs but generally 
separate as if gathered up from the ground, stored in cavities near 
nests or in the houses themselves. Great quantities of the old 
juniper-seed shells are often found under or near wood-rat houses, 
where they have been eaten during previous seasons. Mesquite beans 
in the sugary pods are often gathered for food and stored in consid- 
erable quantities in the houses. The seeds of the little wild gourd are 
eaten and the gourd shells used for building material, but it seems 
doubtful if the wood rats eat the intensely bitter flesh of the gourds. 
For trap bait they will take bread, biscuits, pancake, bacon, and 
almost any kind of meat, cooked or raw, prunes, raisins, rolled oats, 
barley, or any kind of grain or nuts. They can even be caught in 
traps without bait by setting the trap in their doorways or across 


their well-used runways. Mearns (1907, p. 477) accuses them of 
carrying off boxes of pills, bird skins, hen's eggs, candles, soap, and 
other household articles. 

Breeding habits. — The mammae of the females are arranged in two 
pairs between the hind legs, so close together that the rats have been 
described by a ranchman as " having four teats just like a cow." The 
young are usually two to four in number. Mearns records 3 females 
taken March 31 and October 3 containing 1, 2, and 3 fetuses, and 4 
others without date, 2 of which would have given birth to 2 young 
and 2 others to 3 each. E. A. Goldman took 1 in Mangus Valley, 
September 22, containing 2 fetuses, and 2 seems to be the commoner 
number of young to a litter. Small young are often taken so late in 
the autumn months as to indicate that more than one litter is usually 
raised in a season. There are specimens of very small, or about one- 
quarter grown, young, evidently not a month old, taken March 2, 
May 10, July 1, 6, and 23, and September 28; and of about half- 
grown young, taken March 10, May 6, June 25, 28, and 29, July 1, 6, 
11, 13, and 29, August 10, September 3, 7, 9, and 10, October 5, and 14, 
and November 1. 

Hibernation. — Apparently none of the species of wood rats 
hibernate, and unlike hibernating mammals they never accumulate 
any considerable fat under the skin. 

Economic status. — During 1907 wood rats were excessively 
numerous over the Deming Plain and in parts of the Rio Grande 
Valley, N. Mex., but no field work was done there that season to prove 
whether the species was albiguia or comsscens. The habits would 
imply the latter, but the following year the commoner species there 
was albiguia. Much of the desert vegetation had been killed during 
their abundance, but in the following year they had been reduced to 
normal numbers. It is probable that under favorable conditions 
these wood rats would breed more rapidly and increase to numbers of 
serious consequences. They rarely do much harm to grain or other 
crops, however, and can not be considered a serious pest except in 
very local and exceptional cases. On the experimental cactus farm at 
Mesilla Park they have been very troublesome, and E. O. Wooton 
reports that it has been difficult to protect the cactus plants from 
their ravages. A dense growth of cactus almost invariably harbors 
an abundance of them, and if cactus culture should become an 
industry, the wood rat would be the most serious animal enemy to 
contend with. They are easily trapped or poisoned, however, and it 
is only necessary to remove their protective cover to accomplish their 
complete destruction. As game animals they may some time have 
a real value as their flesh is as tender, sweet, and delicious as young 
rabbit or quail. Their food habits are exemplary and in every way 
they lead cleanly and wholesome lives, in striking contrast to the 
filthy habits of the house rat. Mearns says (1907, p. 479) that the 
Hopi Indians kill and eat them and pronounce their flesh a delicacy ; 
and that Captain Martinez, of the Army Engineer Corps of Mexico, 
informed him that — 

physicians of northern Mexico commonly order broth made from the wood rat 
for the Indians and peasants whom they are called upon to treat, just as our 
physicians prescribe chicken broth and beef tea. 


Warren's Wood Rat 

Neotoma albigula warreni Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 21 : 143, 1908. 

Type. — Collected at the Gaurae ranch, Baca County, Colo., November 28, 
1907, by Merritt Gary. 

General characters. — Similar to albigula but slightly larger and with the 
upperparts more gray and less buffy. To some extent it resembles the still 
lighter gray canescens of adjoining territory, but the skull shows that it does 
not belong in that group. 

Measurements. — Average of six adult topotypes : Total length, 313 ; tail, 133 ; 
hind foot, 36 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Warren's wood rats are known only 
from a limited area in the northeastern corner of New Mexico and 
southeastern corner of Colorado in the Upper Sonoran Zone. (Fig. 
31.) The Gaume ranch, a little north of the New Mexico line in 
Baca County, Colo., and Clayton, N. Mex., are the only localities 
at which specimens have been collected. In Colorado Cary says they 
inhabit the rough juniper country, and at Clayton, A. H. Howell 
collected three specimens in a rocky pasture near town. 

General habits. — Cary says (1911, p. 116) : 

At Gaume's ranch, in Shell Rock Canyon, I found these wood rats living 
among rocks along the canyon walls or in hollow junipers on the upper rims 
of canyons, and occasionally in large stick houses reared against the bases of 
junipers in the dense growth well back from the canyon rims. Whether among 
the rocks or in the junipers, the nests were fortified with a varied assortment 
of spines and thorns, the sharp spiny bundles of the tree cactus (Opuntia 
arborescens) always predominating. The stick houses averaged about 2 feet 
in height and often contained several bushels of dead juniper branches. Judg- 
ing from the signs observed at the nest entrances, the rats were subsisting 
largely at this time of year (November) upon the berries of Juniperus 

At Clayton, A. H. Howell merely records the three specimens 
taken in a rocky pasture near town and supposed them to be the 
white-throated, from which their habits apparently do not differ 
noticeably. In fact, the specimens from Clayton are considered by 
E. A. Goldman as somewhat intermediate between albigula and 


Mexican Wood Rat 

Neotoma mexicana Baird, Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. Proc. 7: 333, 1855. 

Type. — Collected in mountains near Chihuahua City, Mexico, by John Potts, 
without date, but entered in United States National Museum Catalogue July 
6, 1854. 

General characters. — A medium-sized round-tailed wood rat, about the size 
of the white-throated, but with more olive-gray upper parts and only the 
surface of the lower parts white, the base of the fur being plumbeous on throat 
and breast. 

Measurements. — Adults : Total length, 327 ; tail, 149 ; hind foot, 34 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Mexican wood rat barely reaches 
northward into southern New Mexico on both sides of the Rio 
Grande Valley. (Fig. 32.) Specimens from the Guadalupe Moun- 
tains on the New Mexico-Texas line and others from the Animas 
Mountains in the southwestern corner of the State were taken among 
the yellow pines in the Transition Zone. 



[No. 53 

General habits. — In the Guadalupe Mountains these wood rats live 
among the rocks and cliffs from the lower edge of the yellow pines 
up to the highest peaks practically throughout the Transition Zone. 
They seem to be entirely rock-dwelling animals, as no independent 
houses were found, and their building was confined to filling the 
seams in the rocks with sticks and rubbish. Dense woods and chap- 
arral furnish abundant cover close up to the rocks, so there is less 
necessity for building than with species occupying the lower, more 
open country. In these mountains their food seems to consist largely 
of the abundant acorns, and along the lower border of their range of 
the sweet berries of the alligator juniper (Jwmperus pachyfhloea). 

In the Animas Mountains 
E. A. Goldman and Birds- 
eye caught them among 
the rocks from 6,800 feet 
to near the top of Animas 
Peak at about 8,000 feet. 
Most of the specimens' 
were taken on the cold 
slope of the mountain 
throughout the Transition 
Zone; here also building 
operations were reduced to 
a minimum, usually being 
limited to a few sticks 
dropped among the cracks 
and clefts of the rocks. 
The dense chaparral of 
these mountains furnishes 
them a superficial cover, 
but evidently does not en- 
tirelv protect them from 

Figure 32. — Distribution of wood rats of the mean- ~. r 

cana group in New Mexico: 1, Neotoma mexi- enemies, as tliey Were no- 

SrSo4^ wc " c "" a max; 3> *' where abundant. 

Colorado Wood Rat ; Ka-it-za of the Navajo Indians 
Neotoma falla® Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proe. 9 : 123, 1894. 

Type— -Collected at Gold Hill, Boulder County, Colo., November 1, 1889, by 
Denis Gale. 

General characters. — Like mexicana but slightly larger; color clearer gray 
with less brownish. Readily distinguished from albigula, with which its range 
comes in contact, by the plumbeous base of the white hairs of throat and 
breast and by the darker gray of the upper parts. 

Measurements. — Average of typical adults: Total length, 331; tail, 150; 
hind foot, 33 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Colorado wood rats are a moun- 
tain species, occupying the yellow-pine zone of all the mountains of 
northern New Mexico south to the Datil, San Mateo, and White 
Mountains ; they fill the Transition Zone completely and where condi- 
tions are especially favorable occasionally penetrate into the lower 
edge of the Canadian Zone or down into the upper edge of the Upper 


Sonoran. (Fig. 32.) They are generally confined to the rocks and 
cliffs but also build their houses over old logs or stumps or at the 
bases of hollow trees. Though mainly inhabiting the forest areas, 
they are not exclusively a forest animal except as brush and trees 
offer them protection. Great bare cliffs and long rock slides are 
their favorite haunts, and along some of the canyon walls they are 
particularly numerous. 

Ge?ieral habits. — Like other species of the rnexicana group they are 
not extensive builders but usually carry into their rocky dens a con- 
siderable mass of sticks, barks, stones, bones, leaves, and rubbish to 
close up openings and corners, thus rendering their retreats more 
secure. In brush heaps and around old logs they sometimes show 
great skill and industry in building houses. Over the yellow pine 
top of the Chuska Mountains they were common both in the cliffs 
and in the woods about old logs. In the cliffs they piled up sticks, 
stones, bark, cones, and rubbish at the entrance to their caves; and 
stuffed leaves and branches of green plants, evidently for food, into 
the corners about their nests. In the woods they built houses somewhat 
like those of the bushy-tailed wood rat, piling up heaps of rubbish 
under and around old logs. One house that the writer photographed 
was under a big yellow pine log lying 2 or 3 feet above the ground. 
The house consisted of about 10 bushels of sticks, pieces of bark, 
pine cones, and leaves. There were several doorways, and deep in 
the middle was a warm nest of bark fiber. Around the outside and 
in all the cavities of the house were stuffed well-cured green leaves 
of Gambel's oak, twigs and leaves and fruit of wild rose, Ceanothus, 
Frasera, and a quantity of dried toadstools. After examining the 
house the writer caught the wood rat to make sure of the species 
and found it to be an adult female. Traps were kept at the house 
for several nights but only the one was caught. This was late in 
October, and the little animal had evidently made good provision 
for a comfortable winter. 

In the Manzano Mountains, Gaut reported these wood rats abun- 
dant throughout the Transition Zone, where houses were found about 
the roots of trees, hollow logs, and occasional brush piles. At East- 
view sawmill dens were noticed about the logs and piles of lumber, 
and one of the employees of the mill brought in a fine specimen that 
he had killed under his cabin and claimed had been living there 
for several months and causing him considerable annoyance. All 
the deserted cabins visited in these mountains were occupied by one 
or more of these wood rats, as could be seen at a glance on entering 
them. Sticks, stones, bones, and leaves were found piled up in 
corners, under floors, and in boxes and old stoves, and wood-rat 
tracks were seen crossing and recrossing the dusty floors. 

In the mountains along the headwaters of the Pecos River the 
wood rats were common throughout the Transition Zone, and speci- 
mens were taken from 7,400 to 8,500 feet altitude. At the fork of 
the Pecos and Mora Creeks they were common in the cliffs and in 
heaps of drift on the river banks, and in the narrow canyon they 
were frequently caught in traps set on old logs at the edge of the 
water. They make dens in the cliffs and among the rocks, usually 
marked by heaps of rubbish and the remains of food, while copious 


deposits of excrement cover some shelves or fill some niches in the 
rocks, and the edges of the rocks are whitened with the calcite de- 
posit from their urine. 

In the Raton Range, A. H. Howell found them in every cliff and 
ledge, extending even up to the summit of Emory Peak, and on 
Sierra Grande he says they range well up toward the summit, their 
signs being seen in the cliff at the upper edge of timber at 9,000 feet. 
He also found them common in the canyon near Clayton, where they 
had evidently followed down the canyon walls well into the Upper 
Sonoran Zone; in the sandstone cliffs at Cat-skill and Vermejo Park, 
and in Road Canyon, living under logs and old stumps as well as 
in the rocks. Hollister collected them in the Mount Taylor,, Zuni, 
and Datil Ranges. In the San Juan Valley, Clarence Birdseye 
found them common along the river flats, living under logs, in de- 
serted outbuildings, and about stables and stockyards. Near Fruit- 
land he caught one in a meat-baited skunk trap set near a stable, and 
one in an old deserted henhouse surrounded by cottonwoods and 
brush. The one in the henhouse had built a large nest of bits of 
manure, straw, branches of wild rose, rabbit brush (Chrysothamnus), 
and other bushes between the roof and some old roosts. In the 
higher part of the Zuni Mountains Goldman found them common 
in rocky places from 8,200 feet, among yellow pines, up to the sum- 
mit of the range. He caught one at a hole under a rock about which 
nearly a bushel of freshly cut leaves of Rocky Mountain maple 
(Acer gldbrum) had been piled. In the Magdalena Mountains he 
took specimens from 6,700 to 9,200 feet and found their nests nearly 
to the top of the range. In the San Mateo Mountains he also took 
specimens from 7,800 to 9,000 feet and saw signs of their occurrence 
near the summits of the peaks. 

Food habits. — The food of this species consists of a great variety 
of green plants, berries, fruits, seeds, nuts, acorns, mushrooms, and 
almost anything in the way of camp supplies of an edible nature. 
In the Pecos Mountains a great number of pine, spruce, and balsam 
cones were found in their houses, evidently carried in for the seeds 
they contained. Acorn shells are always abundant about their nests, 
if oak trees grow in the vicinity. Along the lower edge of their 
range pine nuts and juniper berries furnish food, and both the fruit 
and pulp of cactus plants are eaten when available. Much of their 
range, however, is above the limits of cactus, so that this does not 
form a great part of their general food. Their stomachs usually 
contain some green food, and the abundance of green leaves cut and 
carried into the houses indicate that these cured plants are an impor- 
tant winter food stored up in the form of hay. Oak, maple, poplar, 
rose, blueberry, and Holodiscus and Frasera leaves have been found 
in their houses. 

In one large house a quantity of dried mushrooms was found, 
evidently gathered for the winter food supply. Around camps they 
will eat anything from rolled barley to a cake of soap, and for trap 
bait they eagerly accept grain, bread, nuts, and meat of any kind — 
fresh, cooked, or dried. They never become fat but always seem 
plump and well fed, probably owing to their wide range of food 
materials, some of which are available at all seasons. 


Breeding habits. — The usual number of young in this species seems 
to be 2 or 3, with probably a maximum of 4 to correspond with the 
number of mammae. Cary records a female, collected May 1, near 
Loveland, Colo., that contained 3 small fetuses, while a female that 
he surprised in her nest among the rafters of a cabin near Boulder 
on July 23 glided silently from the nest with two young about 
quarter grown clinging to her teats. The breeding season seems to 
begin early in spring and to continue through the summer, as young 
about quarter and half grown and others almost full grown are 
taken during July, August, and September. It is probable that more 
than one litter is raised in a season, although part of the variation 
in age of young may be due to irregularity in the time of breeding. 

Economic status. — The range of the Colorado wood rats is mainly 
in the mountains above the level of agriculture or permanent habi- 
tation, so that economically they are of little importance, although 
they often prove very annoying and cause some slight losses to 
campers and temporary residents in the mountain forests. A camp 
or cabin in the woods within their range rarely escapes their notice, 
and their building instincts are at once appealed to by the elaborate 
structure with great hollow spaces inside that need only to be filled 
up with sticks and stones to make ideal quarters. They proceed at 
once to put in such improvements as they think suitable and, aside 
from filling up bunks, cupboards, stoves, and pantries with rubbish, 
often partly destroy such clothing and furniture as may have been 
left in the buildings. Food is almost certain to be carried away 
unless suspended from the roof by wires. But a few traps or a 
little poisoned grain placed in a box in one corner, with a hole in 
the side and marked " poison " to prevent accident, would in most 
cases obviate the annoyance which they thus cause. 

In the San Juan Valley, Clarence Birdseye was told that these 
wood rats were one of the favorite foods of the Navajo Indians. 
If some of the early explorers who starved to death in the country 
where they abound had known how easily they could have supplied 
themselves with an abundance of such delicate and delicious small 
game their journeys might have been rendered comparatively safe. 

San Feancisco Mountain Wood Rat 
Neotoma pinetorum Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 8: 111, 1893. 

Type. — Collected at San Francisco Mountain, Ariz., August 16, 1889, by 
Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — The largest of the three forms of the mexicanus group 
occurring in New Mexico. In color it is darker and browner over the upper 
parts than either mexicana or fallax. The lower parts are pure white on the 
surface over the gray or plumbeous base of fur. 

Measurements. — Average of 4 adults from the type locality: Total length, 
357 ; tail, 164 ; hind foot, 36.5 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The San Francisco Mountain wood rats 
inhabit the yellow-pine forests of the Mogollon and White Moun- 
tains, from the Mimbres and Black Range west to San Francisco 
Mountain, Ariz. (Fig. 32.) They even reach to some extent into 
the Canadian Zone, but seem not to come below the edge of the 


General habits. — In the Mogollon Mountains they are common 
from about 7,000 feet to near the tops of the highest peaks. On 
Willow Creek, one of the headwaters of the Gila, the writer caught 
them at 8,500 feet among rocks and under old logs in the woods. 
There were also nests and signs of their presence in old cabins and 
often in heaps of drift along the creek. Some were caught in traps 
set on logs in the open woods where no rocks or wood-rat houses 
were to be seen, indicating that the animals wander a considerable 
distance from their dens. E. A. Goldman collected specimens near 
the top of the mountains and reported their houses of sticks and 
leaves under logs, among rocks, and around deserted buildings. 
One nest that he found under a log near a stream was more than 10 
feet in length, built mainly of branches of willow, wild rose, hop 
vines, and fragments of various plants and leaves. In the Tularosa 
Mountains the writer found stick houses evidently of this species, 
built under the shelter of spruce and fir trees high up on the cold 
slope of the mountains but had no opportunity to collect specimens. 
One of these houses was unusually high and symmetrical and inde- 
pendent of any protection from logs and trees. It was composed 
mainly of sticks and leaves, and showed evidence of being freshly 
built and well occupied. In the Mimbres Mountains two of these 
wood rats were caught near the head of Powder Horn Canyon just 
below the lower edge of the Canadian Zone. Here they were living 
on a thickly timbered slope and in large houses of sticks and leaves 
built over big logs in the woods. Well-worn trails led from the 
houses down to the little stream near by, and the rats were caught in 
traps set along these trails. At camp on the head of the Rio Mim- 
bres they were common among the rocks, under old logs and brush 
piles, in stick houses at the base of trees, or in clusters of cactus, and 
also in the several vacant cabins along the stream. In food and 
general habits pinetorum probably does not differ materially from 
the more widely ranging and better-known fall-ax. 

Thomas's Wood Rat 

Neotoma lepida Thomas, Ann. and Mag. Nat. Hist. (6) 12: 235, 1893. 

Type locality. — Unknown. 

General characters. — The smallest wood rat in New Mexico — a little soft, 
silky-haired, fuzzy-tailed species of the desertorum group. Though not ap- 
proaching the condition in the bushy-tailed wood rats, the round tail is much 
more hairy than in the mexicana or albigula groups. In color the upper parts 
are bright buffy gray, the lower parts buff or whitish, often with a pure-white 
throat, or with a median white stripe on the throat; the feet are white; tail 
clear gray all around or sometimes slightly lighter below. 

Measurements.— Total length, 286; tail, 136; hind foot, 29 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Thomas's wood rat is mainly an Ari- 
zona species extending into the northwestern corner of New Mexico, 
where it apparently occupies the whole Great San Juan Valley south 
to the Zuni Mountains. It occupies the sandstone cliffs and canyon 
walls in the open valley country of the Upper Sonoran Zone. 
(Fig. 33.) 




General habits. — Practically all of the specimens collected were 
taken in sandstone cliffs around the valley borders. At Gallup 
they were common, but so closely associated with the white-throated 
and Colorado wood rats that the habits and houses of the three could 
not be readily distinguished. Hollister collected specimens at both 
Wingate and Fort Wingate and here also found them associated with 
the white-throated. At another camp 2>3 miles north of Bluewater 
fresh wood-rat signs were noticed in the rocks close to where a camp- 
fire was built. After supper the writer placed a trap in the rocks and 
a little later hearing it snap took out one of the Thomas's wood rats 
and reset the trap. In the morning it contained a white-throated 
wood rat. This seems to indicate that the two species have similar 
habits and associate on friendly terms. At Blanco on the San Juan 
River Birdseye collected one specimen and reported that they were 
quite common in the sand- 
stone cliffs around the vil- 

In passing over the San 
Juan Valley the writer saw 
many wood-rat houses 
about the base of juniper 
trees and in cactus patches 
in the open, but no speci- 
mens were collected. Over 
the wide valley south of 
Chaco Canyon their houses 
were common in the exten- 
sive beds of the fine-spined 
pricklypear. These were 
built entirely of cactus, 
several bushels of the spiny 
pads being heaped up in a 
place. One that the writer 
tried to dig out proved to 
have a hollow space and 
numerous holes under it, 
but he did not succeed in 
capturing any of its occu- 
pants. There was no water for a 2-day journey, and as it was 
necessary to make a dry camp that night, he could not remain longer 
to collect specimens, so the identity of the species is in doubt. These 
houses very likely belonged to lepida, however. 

The habits of lepida are, for the present, hopelessly confused with 
other species, and no generalization can be safely made in regard to 
them. Juniper berries seem to furnish a large part of the food of all 
the wood rats of this region and probably also of this species. 

At Fort Wingate A. K. Fisher collected three half-grown young 
on July 5 and 6, 1892, so nearly of a size that they evidently were all 
of one litter. This is practically all the evidence available of the 
number of young and of the breeding habits, but on general princi- 
ples they can be assumed to be similar to those of other closely 
related species. 

Figure 3' 

-Distribution of wood rats of the 
1, Keotoma lepida 
lepida; 2, N. lepida stephensi 

lepida group in New Mexico: 


Stephens's Wood Rat 
Ncotoma stephensi Goldman, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 18 : 32, 1905. 

Type. — Collected in Hualpai Mountains, Ariz., July 1, 1902, by Frank 

General characters. — Size slightly larger and colors darker than lepida; fur 
soft and silky; tail round but well-haired and not distinctly bicolor. Upper 
parts dark buffy gray; feet and lower parts white; belly sometimes buffy but 
throat usually pure white. Tail dark gray above ; slightly lighter gray below. 

Measurements.— Adults : Total length, 305 ; tail, 135 ; hind foot, 31 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Fuzzy-tailed Stephens's wood rat occu- 
pies the juniper and nut pine plateau region of middle-western New 
Mexico and westward through Arizona. (Fig. 33.) It is an Upper 
Sonoran species of a half- wooded canyon and lava-rock country. It 
shows as striking a color adaptation to its dark soil and rock environ- 
ment as does the bright buffy lepida to its sandstone cliffs and 

General habits. — This apparently is not an abundant species in 
New Mexico, where it occupies the same general region with the more 
abundant and larger albigula. In the Burro Mountains E. A. Gold- 
man found Stephens's wood rat common, however, and collected 
specimens along the cliffs, about old logs and brush piles, from 6,400 
feet to the summit of the mountains. Here they were living in stick 
nests placed about logs or brush, and in places their burrows entered 
the ground about the bases of rocks with many sticks piled about the 
entrances. In the cliffs the entrances to the burrows were often bare 
or marked by only a few sticks. Many well-worn trails extended 
from the houses and burrows over the surface of the ground or along 
the base of the rocks where they ran from one entrance to another. 

At Glenwood on the San Francisco River they were evidently 
common along the canyon walls, but only one specimen was taken. 
On the Zuni River just below the Arizona line several were collected 
along the sides of a rocky ridge bordering the valley. Hollister col- 
lected specimens at Burley near the Datil Mountains and at Grant, 
but in both localities the species was so closely associated with the 
white-throated that the notes on habits are uncertain. In the Burro 
Mountains E. A. Goldman found freshly cut twigs of mountain- 
mahogany (Cercocarpus), Ceanothus, and oak in the rat houses, 
but whether these were building materials or the remains of food is 
uncertain. One of the specimens that he collected late in September 
contained two small fetuses. 

Colorado Bushy-tailed Wood Rat; Hena of the Taos Indians 
Neotoma orolestes Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 9: 128, 1894. 

Type. — Collected in Saguache Valley, Colo., August 13, 1892, by J. Alden 

General characters. — The largest wood rat in New Mexico, with very large 
ears, long mustaches, and wide, bushy, almost squirrellike tail. In adults 
the tail is usually an inch wide and the mustache about 4 inches long on each 
side of the nose. The upperparts are dark cinnamon gray, and the top of the 
tail dusky, or clear dark gray; the feet and underparts, including lower sur- 




face of tail, pure white. The young are slaty gray above with less bushy 

Measurements. — Average of adults: Total length, 394; tail, 169; hind foot, 
40 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Colorado bushy-tailed wood rats 
(pi. 9, B) are mountain animals occupying the Transition and the 
Canadian Zones of the Sangre de Cristo, San Juan, and Jemez Moun- 
tains of north-central New Mexico and the mountains of Colorado 
and northward. (Fig. 34.) In the Pecos River Mountains speci- 
mens were taken from 8,000 feet at the junction of the Pecos and 
Mora Rivers up to 11,200 feet at the east base of Pecos Baldy and 
their signs were found up to 11,600 feet. Apparently they range 
throughout the width of the Transition and the Canadian Zones, but 
are either more common or more commonly taken in the Transition 
Zone. In the Taos Moun- 
tains they were taken up to 
11,400 feet, and their nests 
and signs were seen under 
rocks up to timberline. 

General habits. — These 
are rock and forest dwell- 
ing animals of the moun- 
tain slopes. The great 
stretches of slide rock that 
accumulate along the bases 
of cliffs on the mountain 
sides are almost invariably 
occupied by them, as are 
the cliffs and caves. Where 
no rocks are available they 
often build large houses of 
sticks and leaves over old 
logs or stumps or around 
the base of hollow trees and 
leave well-worn runways 
under brush and logs 
through the woods. They 
are often caught in traps 
set on logs, and the fact that they quickly find a cabin left vacant in 
the woods indicates that they are extensive travelers and not closely 
bound by home ties. Along the edges of Moreno Valley the writer 
found a number of their large houses in pine and spruce woods. One 
built over some hollow logs and another over a big bowlder, were 5 
or 6 feet high and about as broad, with numerous holes and chambers 
in the sides and underneath the edges. They were composed of sticks, 
chips, cones, leaves, and much refuse from food material. At one 
of them a pair of adult wood rats were caught that were evidently 
occupying the house together. In an old cabin near camp on the 
east slope of the Taos Mountains one had made a very comfortable 
and convenient home by piling heaps of sticks and chips in three of 
the corners of the room and filling an old box with the green leaves 
and seed pods of various plants. In one corner on a beam close to 

Figure 34. — Distribution of bushy-tailed wood 
rats in New Mexico : 1, Neotorna drier ea oroles- 
tes; 2, N. cinerea arizonae 


the roof was a large soft nest made of wool, feathers, and a chewed-up 
gunny sack. It was as large as one's head, neatly built with a cup- 
shaped opening at the top, where the rat curled up to sleep. 

Apparently every old cabin in the woods is occupied by one or more 
of these animals, as can at once be ascertained by the characteristic 
odor as well as by the piles of sticks and chips in corners, under 
floors, or in old bunks, and by the scattered pellets and the little pudgy 
round tracks in the dust or ashes on the floors. 

Near Chama in the San Juan Mountains Loring found where one 
lived in an old slaughterhouse. There were two cup-shaped nests of 
soft dry grass on a board up near the rafters, and along this board, 
which was about 1 foot wide and 5 feet long, were distributed some 
2 bushels of rubbish, sticks, cows' horns, and hoofs. He caught one 
of the wood rats in an abandoned camp and another in a marten trap, 
which he had set in the woods and baited with meat and crows' 

High up in the Taos Mountains they were abundant everywhere 
among the big broken bowlders and the steep slide rock along the 
slopes, and in such locations they persisted in getting into traps 
set for martens and weasels. Usually in such rocky situations they 
do not build very extensive houses, but their presence can be quickly 
determined by piles of sticks filling the spaces between the rocks 
and by their characteristic black, cylindrical pellets and the white 
capping of the edges and points of sheltered rocks. 

In the Jemez Mountains the writer found them from 8,000 feet 
in Santa Clara Canyon up to 11,000 feet on the highest peaks. Their 
nests were readily distinguished from those of the white-throated 
and the Colorado wood rats by their larger sticks and green branches. 
Frequently a bushel of well-cured green leaves and branches were 
found on a house or packed in among the rocks for winter food. 
These wood rats are excellent climbers and not only delight in run- 
ning over the walls and rafters of cabins but also in climbing over 
rocks or up the trunks and branches of trees. 

At one of the camps on the headwaters of the Costilla River, when 
the camp wagon had stood under some trees for a couple of nights, 
one of these rats took up its quarters in the wagon. On being dis- 
turbed it jumped out of the wagon, ran up the nearest tree and along 
the branches to another tree, and hid in a thick place high up in the 
small branches, climbing as nimbly and as rapidly as a squirrel or 

In Colorado Cary reported that at one of his camps the wood rats 
continually climbed the tent walls and that in the mines the men told 
him that they often passed them on the ladders. 

Very little is known of the winter habits of these animals except 
as they occasionally come into unoccupied hunters' or miners' camps. 
They do not become fat or hibernate for the cold weather, but much 
of the material stored is evidently intended for winter food, and in 
the well-sheltered caves and rock slides they doubtless have safe and 
comfortable winter quarters. 

Food habits. — These bushy-tailed wood rats are as omnivorous 
as other members of the group, feeding on various green plants, 
seeds, nuts, berries, fruits, and any supplies which they can pick 
up around camps or cabins. Pine and spruce cones are often found 


in the houses, but whether these are gathered for food or merely 
for building material is uncertain. Acorn shells are often found 
scattered about, and mushrooms packed away in their houses may 
be stored for food. There are few things about camp that they 
will not eat or carry away if opportunity offers. All camp foods 
are welcome, while saddle strings and harness straps if left within 
reach are cut off and carried away for building material or as a 
possible food supply. Traps baited with rolled oats or any kind 
of grain, or with pieces of biscuit, dried fruit, and cooked or raw 
meat will catch them with as much certainty as if the traps had been 
baited with the nuts and seeds to which they are accustomed. 

Breeding habits. — Inere is little known of the breeding habits of 
this species except that specimens of quarter and half grown young 
are collected through July and August and even into September. 
Young that are almost full grown are also collected through July 
and August, and most of the young in September and October are 
nearly full grown. It is doubtful whether more than one litter is 
raised in a season. The number in a litter is probably two to four, 
as is usual with other species of the genus with the same number and 
arrangement of mammae. 

Economic status. — These animals are of practically no economic 
importance except as they cause occasional annoyance in camps or 
houses and destroy food and other supplies. Fortunately they are 
never numerous, and after one or two are caught in a locality others 
are not likely to appear for some time. 

Arizona Bushy-tailed Wood Rat; Kar la of the Hopi Indians (Fisher) 
Neotoma arlvonae Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 8: 110, 1893. 

Type. — Collected in Keam Canyon, Ariz., May 21, 1888, by J. Sullivan. 

General characters. — Slightly smaller than orolestes with less spreading bushy 
tail and lighter coloration. Upperparts clear rich buff; top of the tail ashy 
gray ; feet and underparts pure white. 

Measurements. — Adults : Total length, 847 ; tail, 146 ; hind foot, 36 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Arizona bushy-tailed wood rat 
comes into the northwestern corner of New Mexico in the San Juan 
Valley in the Upper Sonoran Zone. (Fig. 34.) Clarence Birdseye 
collected specimens at Farmington and Shiprock, and the writer took 
one at the Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon. They live in an open 
desert-valley country, usually in sandstone cliffs and ledges. 

General habits. — Birdseye described their nests among the rocks as 
composed of flat pieces of sandstone often 4 or 5 inches across, 
actually heavier than the wood rat, as well as of cattle and horse 
manure, bones of various animals, and the stems of plants, conspicuous 
among which being the spinescent branches of saltbush (Atriplex 
confertifolia and A. canescens) , and some pieces of cactus. The nests 
were often built under fallen rocks at the base of cliffs or in crevices 
of the walls. At Shiprock he found a large house in the side of a dry 
wash and although there was abundant sign around the house he 
succeeded in catching only one specimen in several nights' trapping. 

In the ruins of the prehistoric Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon 
these wood rats were abundant. They were the only occupants of 
an old adobe house in which the writer camped one night late in 


October to escape the cold wind that was blowing, and all night long 
they kept running over the floor and over his bed. Occasionally 
he would give the canvas a kick and send one flying, and then the 
animal would stay away for an hour or so but at each return it would 
wake him up by a great rattle and scratching. The house was built 
on one of the ruins of the old pueblo, and the wood rats came in at 
numerous holes under the floor. The white streaks on the old ruins 
and cliffs were geologic in suggestion and may have dated back to the 
days of an industrious Indian population of the canyon. As the 
range of these wood rats lies within the region of cliff dwellings in 
northwestern New Mexico, southeastern Utah, and northeastern 
Arizona, where they now inhabit both the cliffs and ruins, they were 
doubtless animals of decided economic importance in prehistoric 
times. They may have been important as food animals, but more 
probably were serious pests that the food-storing aborigines had to 
contend with in protecting their winter supplies. 

Colorado Red-backed Mouse 
Evotomys galei Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 4, p. 23, 1890. 

Type.— Collected at Ward, Boulder County, Colo., July 14, 1889, by Denis 

General cliaraoters. — The red-backed mice are small, compactly built, short- 
tailed, short-eared, and short-footed ground-dwelling rodents. The fur is long 
and soft, almost concealing the ears and general form. The whole back from 
the middle of the forehead to the tail is bright hazel or yellowish brown ; the 
sides and face are gray, and the lower parts white. 

Measurements. — An adult male from the type locality measures in total 
length, 146 ; tail, 40 ; hind foot, 18 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Colorado red-backed mice extend 
down through the mountains of northern New Mexico to the Pecos 
and Jemez Mountains, where the species reaches its southern limit. 
(Fig. 35.) One specimen was taken just south of Pecos Baldy at 
11,000 feet in dense spruce woods. In the Taos Mountains others 
were collected from 10,700 feet to 11,500 feet, and in the Jemez 
Mountains a few were caught on the cold slope of Goat Peak at 8,600 
feet. These are the only records for New Mexico, but they indicate 
a range throughout the Canadian Zone in the high mountains east 
and west of the Kio Grande Valley. They can hardly be said to 
be common in this area, however, as thorough trapping in many 
suitable locations failed to produce specimens. 

General habits. — Although related to the meadow mice and having 
somewhat similar habits, these red-backed mice belong to the woods 
and not to the meadows. In the Pecos Mountains the one specimen 
secured after much trapping was taken under a log in dry spruce 
woods. In the Taos Mountains a few miles south of Twining they 
were caught in a similar location under logs and rocks in a dense 
grove of Engelmann spruce and corkbark fir at 10,700 feet altitude ; 
and again, in similar situations a few miles farther south near the 
little lake at the head of Lake Fork at 11,500 feet. In the Jemez 
Mountains one adult and two young were caught under logs in 
the dry spruce and fir forest at 8,600 feet on the north slope of one of 
the main peaks. 




In places their little runways may be traced along the surface of 
the ground under logs or from one log to another and occasionally 
out in the grass and weed patches where they feed. Generally, how- 
ever, the ground is so open that they do not make runways or leave 
any visible trace of their presence, unless it be the half -eaten stems of 
grass and weeds near or under the logs or rocks where they live, or at 
the entrance of their little burrows, which enter the mellow woods 

Their nests are rarely found on the surface of the ground, and it is 
probable that the underground winter nests are used during the short 
cool summer at these high altitudes. 

They do not become fat or hibernate and apparently do not lay up 
stores of food for winter. Their stomachs usually contain the 
remains of finety masti- 
cated vegetation, part of 
which is green. Often a 
large part is white, indi- 
cating that it is selected 
from the blanched tender 
base of grasses and plants 
at the surface of the 
ground. Such food is just 
as accessible under the 
snows of winter as in sum- 
mer, and with the advan- 
tage of perfect protection 
from enemies above. It is 
not improbable that even 
the roots of plants are eaten 
in winter either from the 
burrows or from close to 
the surface of the ground. 
The mice are fond of rolled 
oats or any kind of grain 
used for trap bait and also 
feed on seeds of various 
plants when they are to be 
had. The stomach contents, however, indicate that the bulk of the 
food is composed of growing vegetation. 

Breeding habits. — The mammae of the females are arranged in 4 
pairs — 2 inguinal and 2 pectoral. The usual number of young seems 
to be four to six, but the writer has only the one record of four from 
New Mexico, that of a female caught in the Jemez Mountains Sep- 
tember 2 contained four half -grown fetuses. At the same time two 
half-grown young were caught. 


Southern Red-backed Mouse 
Evotomys Umitis Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 26 : 133, 1913. 

Type. — Collected in Mogollon Mountains on Willow Creek at 8,500 feet alti- 
tude, October 27, 1906, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — This southern form of the red-backed mouse is distin- 
guished from galei by larger size and duller and darker coloration. The differ- 
64909°— 32 13 

Figure 35. — Distribution of the red-backed mice 
in New Mexico: 1, Clethrionomys gapperi galei; 
2, G. Umitis. Type locality circled 


ence is conspicuous in the skulls, which are much larger, with relatively more 
elongated braincase. 

Measurements. — The type, an adult male, measures in total length, 162; tail, 
42, hind foot, 20 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Specimens of the southern red-backed 
mouse taken in the Mogollon, San Mateo, and Magdalena Mountains 
of New Mexico and the White Mountains of Arizona indicate a 
range filling the Canadian Zone of this southern mountain region. 
(Fig. 35.) The range is probably somewhat interrupted by lower 
country lying between some of these mountains, but the characters 
of the species seem to be fairly uniform. It is widely separated by 
low country from galei and all the Rocky Mountain forms and marks 
the most southern distribution of the genus in America. 

General habits. — At the type locality the writer collected seven 
adult specimens of this form on October 26 and 27, 1906. These 
were in the fresh winter pelage, as at that time there had been two 
falls of snow, and the ice had frozen over the creek thick enough to 
bear one's weight. They seemed to be abundant in the spruce woods 
on the cold slope of the deep canyon, and more would probably have 
been taken but for the abundance of other mice that were constantly 
filling the traps. All the specimens were secured under old logs in 
the woods, where their little runways could usually be distinguished 
from those of the meadow mice along the border. In the Mogollon 
Mountains E. A. Goldman caught one in Copper Canyon at an 
altitude of 9,000 feet, where the vegetation was mainly character- 
istic of the Canadian Zone; and in the San Mateo Mountains he 
collected two adults and two half -grown young October 5 at 10,000 
feet altitude near the top of San Mateo Peak. One of these was 
taken in a thicket of currant, meadowrue, holodiscus, and grass 
in a small nook between rock slides on the southwest slope. The 
others were taken in aspen thickets on the summit of the peak where 
the undergrowth was largely honeysuckle (Lonicera albiflora). 
They were living in holes in the ground among the rocks and leaves. 

Food habits. — In the Mogollon Mountains the food of these mice 
seemed to consist largely of the seeds of small plants that were 
being cut down along their runways. Their stomach contents showed 
little green vegetation. They were eager for the rolled oats used 
for trap bait, as was proved by the stomach contents of those caught. 

Rocky Mountain Meadow Mouse; Pah-kxu'-lena-na of the Taos Indians 
Arvicola (Mynomes) mordax Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 5, p. 61, 1891. 

Type.— Collected at Sawtooth (or Alturas) Lake, Idaho, September 29, 1890, 
by C. Hart Merriam and Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — Ears mainly concealed in the fur; tail long, about one- 
third of total length ; fur coarse ; color of upper parts light brownish gray ; 
sides clear gray ; lower parts silvery gray. 

Measurements. — Average of adult males: Total length, 186; tail, 64; hind 
foot, 21 millimeters; adult female: 182; 60; 20 millimeters, respectively. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Rocky Mountain meadow mice 
are common in most of the high mountains of New Mexico, as well 
as throughout the Rocky Mountain region. (Fig. 36.) They range 
through the Canadian Zone and extend into the Hudsonian to some 




extent. In many places they follow down along the banks of cold 
mountain streams well into and even through the Transition Zone, 
but in such cases are almost invariably associated with an abundance 
of the Canadian Zone plants, which also follow down the cold stream 
borders. In the Taos Mountains specimens were taken from 8,200 
to 12,500 feet and in the Pecos Mountains from 8,000 to 11,600 feet. 
General habits. — Within their range they are generally the most 
abundant meadow mice of the mountain areas. The cold creek banks 
and frosty mountain meadows are their favorite haunts. The bor- 
ders of ice-cold springs and meadows where spring-made brooks 
trickle through or larger streams go roaring over bowlder beds are 
almost certain to be marked with their burrows and runways. The 
borders of temporary streams coming from melting snow banks are 
often occupied by them, and when the streams become dry they dis- 
perse through the green 
vegetation and are often 
found at considerable dis- 
tances from any water, 
even living under old logs 
and brush heaps in the edge 
of the forest, where they 
depend upon green vege- 
tation for moisture until 
the early snows bury them 
for the winter. Where 
water is abundant they are 
semiaquatic in habits, and 
their runways often lead 
into the edge of the spring 
or creek, coming out again 
on the opposite bank. 
They swim and dive with 
perfect freedom and make 
their trails through marshy- 
ground half in the water 
and half out. Numerous 
burrows, many of which 
are old and others freshly 
excavated, penetrate the banks and lead to underground nests and 
chambers or into the hollows in the banks, from which they branch 
out in all directions to different feeding grounds, with numerous 
roads and short cuts to their burrows. The little roads leading 
over the surface of the ground from one burrow to another or off 
through the green grass are usually well worn and if much used 
are smooth and well kept. They are not merely paths worn by 
the repeated passing of feet, but deliberately made roads from 
which growing vegetation is cut and the old fallen mat of vege- 
tation lifted high enough to make tunnels between it and the 
smooth surface of the ground. Where there is an abundance of both 
fresh and dry vegetation their runways are well concealed, but in 
many places they are conspicuous from above as one looks closely 
down into the short grass and over the mountain plants. Their ap- 

Figure 36. — Distribution of Rocky Mountain 
meadow mouse, Microtus mordax mordax, in 
New Mexico 


pearance generally shows whether they are fresh and well used, but 
better evidence is to be had in the abundance of cut plants scattered 
along the borders on the feeding grounds and the little dark-green 
pellets of excrement at the sides of the runways. 

In the Pecos Mountains during July and August of 1903 they were 
found rather scarce through the Canadian Zone, but the surface of 
the ground over the mountain slopes was often marked with a net- 
work of their runways and perforated by numerous burrows. 
Evidently they had been much more numerous during the previous 
season and through the winter, but for some reason their numbers 
had been reduced below the normal. Such fluctuations in the 
abundance of these mice are very common and probably due to 
various causes. In winter they apparently spread out over more of 
the open ground under the protecting cover of snow, and with the 
disappearance of snow again gather into areas of better cover and 
where the spring vegetation furnishes the favorite foods. With the 
dry seasons they also gather more especially along the watercourses 
or into the marshes. In mountains with dry open slopes, such as the 
Capitans and Sacramentos, they seem to get through the dry season 
without any water other than the dew, occasional rains, and the mois- 
ture they get from the abundant succulent plants. In such locations 
they gather into the moist hollows or under logs in the cool, damp 
woods. In the Capitan Mountains Gaut collected a few specimens 
in high weeds and grass about a temporary rainwater pond near the 
summit of the range. Others were collected at cold springs on the 
different slopes of the mountains, and at such places they were found 
about old logs not far from the edge of water holes. In the White 
Mountains they were common along the streams of the lower slope, 
and abundant signs, probably of this species, were found to the 
summit of Sierra Blanca. In the Taos Mountains they were found 
on both slopes along all of the streams, and in Moreno Valley were 
especially numerous in a little springy meadow at the foot of the 
mountain slope. 

A. H. Howell took specimens at 9,000 feet on Costilla Pass, and the 
writer found them abundant along streams in the Culebra Mountains. 
In the San Juan Mountains none were found in the parklike openings 
over the top of the range, but unmistakable traces were seen in the 
marshes on the west slope. Loring took one near Chama by a little 
stream in the meadow, and Gaut collected one on the headwaters of 
the Chama River and another near an aspen grove at Horse Lake, on 
the Jicarilla Indian Reservation. Other specimens were collected 
along the streams in the Jemez Mountains. In the Canadian Zone 
areas of Mount Taylor and the Zuni Mountains the writer found evi- 
dent traces of this species, although none was collected. On the 
Chuska Mountains they were abundant on cold slopes and about 
springs along the top of the range. Here they were living on dry 
slopes as well as in wet places, and their runways and cuttings were 
abundant among the logs and under the dense grass and weedy vege- 
tation of the upper gulches. In the Mogollon and Mimbres Moun- 
tains they were also abuandant in the Canadian Zone and were often 
found in woods and on waterless slopes, as well as along the margins 
of streams. 


Food habits. — The food of these little animals consists almost en- 
tirely of green vegetation, largely grass. Their stomach contents 
usually show a green mass of finely ground food, and even their 
excrement is dark green. The stomach contents usually can not be 
identified, and the only clue to the species of plants eaten is found 
in the remains of those partly eaten on the feeding grounds. These 
include a great variety of species, in fact almost every meadow plant 
is cut down and sampled or partly eaten, and in the woods the species 
chosen seem to be those most convenient. Different kinds of grass 
are cut along the runways and when young and tender the green 
stems and leaves are partly eaten. Later in the season as the grass 
fills with seeds the stems are cut off at the base and drawn down by 
repeated cutting into sections until the seed-laden tops are reached. 
The heads are then eaten, seeds and all, and the little sections of the 
stems 1 or 2 inches long are left piled up as refuse. In this way a 
great deal of grass is cut in a night by a single meadow mouse, and 
where they are abundant in a meadow the total destruction of grass is 
considerable. Early in spring the tender shoots of grass are eaten as 
they come up, and in winter under the snow their favorite food seems 
to be the blanched inner folds of grass stems close to the ground. 
Under the snow their tunnels carried over the surface of the ground 
reach abundant vegetation. Green bark is also acceptable food and 
branches of trees cut in the fall are often found stripped of their bark 
when the snow disappears in spring. Even the trunks of small trees 
lying under the snow are often stripped of bark and the bases of 
many bushes and small trees are sometimes girdled so as to injure or 
kill them. The mice are fond of any kind of grain used for trap bait 
and also of fresh meat, salt pork, or bacon. In a trap line, where 
they are abundant and many specimens are caught in a small area, 
some of the mice in the traps are usually found half eaten by others 
that have come along and found them dead. 

Breeding habits. — The 4 pairs of mammae of this species are ar- 
ranged in 2 pairs of pectoral and 2 pairs of inguinal with a wide 
abdominal space between. The number of young in a litter as indi- 
cated by the embryos examined from various parts of the range of the 
species, varies usually from 4 to 6, and in one case reached 7. The 
breeding season extends over a considerable part of the year but its 
limits are not definitely known. In the Mimbres Mountains the 
writer collected an old female on May 24 that contained five small 
fetuses. It is probable that from two to several litters are raised in 
a season by the adult breeders and when conditions are favorable and 
food abundant reproduction probably goes on at a rapid rate. Fe- 
males not fully grown during the same season in which they were 
born often contain fetuses but usually in small numbers. The power 
of very rapid reproduction probably accounts for the great abun- 
dance of these animals at times, as their host of enemies could easily 
account for their scarcity at other times in the same localities. 

The young are brought forth and reared in well-made nests placed 
in chambers of the burrows or on the surface of the ground under 
cover of fallen vegetation. These nests are usually in the form of a 
somewhat flattened ball, composed of soft grass and plant fibers and 
often lined with bits of fur from the parents or other animals. They 
are well covered and are entered by one or two openings at the sides 


near the surface of the ground. A heavy rain seems never to wet 
the inner part of the nest unless the water rises from beneath to flood 
the chambers. The nests are very warm and when in use are always 
neat and clean. 

Economic status. — Fortunately the Rocky Mountain meadow mice 
range almost entirely above the zones of agriculture, where little 
harm can be done to cultivated crops, meadows, or fruit trees, as 
otherwise they might be a very serious pest. At present their 
mischief consists mainly in slightly lessening the grass crop of the 
mountain meadows and parks and in destroying some small trees 
that otherwise might aid in the reforestation of the mountain slopes. 
They are so numerous and widely distributed that any form of 
artificial destruction or control of abundance would be very expen- 
sive. Their enemies, however, are legion, and quickly gather where 
the mice are most abundant. Hawks, owls, foxes, coyotes, wildcats, 
weasels, badgers, and skunks are constantly searching for them and 
pounce upon every one that shows himself above cover. The most 
effective means of controlling the abundance of such rodents is by 
giving protection to their enemies and so far as possible in removing 
the cover that affords them their only protection. 

Dwarf Meadow Mouse 
Arvicola (Mynomes) nanus Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 5, p. 63, 1891. 

Type. — Collected in Pahsimeroi Mountains, Idaho, September 16, 1S90, by 
C. Hart Merriam and Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — Very similar in color and general appearance to mordax 
except for slightly smaller size and relatively much shorter tail. The tail is 
about one-quarter of the total length, or about twice the length of the hind foot. 
The color of the upper parts is light brownish gray ; underparts, silvery gray. 

Measurements. — Adult specimens from Colorado average in total length, 172 ; 
tail, 43 ; hind foot, 20 millimeters ; females, 161 ; 44 ; 20 millimeters, respectively. 

Distribution and habitat. — Specimens of the dwarf mountain 
species of meadow mouse (pi. 9, A) have been taken in New Mexico 
only on top of the San Juan Range from 8,700 to 9,900 feet altitude 
in j^ure Canadian Zone. (Fig. 37.) It is an abundant species in the 
mountains of Colorado and will undoubtedly be taken in the moun- 
tain parks along the Sangre de Cristo Range in New Mexico. 

General habits. — In the San Juan Mountains specimens were taken 
in a springy marsh at the forks of Tusas Creek on the east slope of 
the mountains at 8,700 feet, and later in the springy marshes on the 
crest of the range west of Hopewell at 9,900 feet. In the open park 
on the crest of the range they were found living in weedy patches of 
ground around the springs or in the banks of little streams, as well 
as out on the drier parts of the park in the short grass well away 
from water. Along the edges of water pools in the half-dry creek 
bed the runways often ended at the water's edge and began again on 
the opposite side; while sections of cut grass tying in the water, 
runways in muddy places, and burrows in wet ground showed a 
fondness for the neighborhood of water. In several instances holes 
and runways were found where the ground was dry and dusty and 
only scattered tufts of short grass offered scanty food and cover. In 
dry places little roadways could be traced from burrow to burrow 

North American Fauna No. 53, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey 


B4035M B4034M 

A, Dwarf meadow mouse (Microtus nanus nanus); B, jumping mouse ( Zap us prince ps). (Photos 
taken at Crested Butte, Colo., by E. R. Warren) 




across dusty intervals, and the small round burrows entered the bare 
hard ground in perfectly open places. In some cases the mice had 
taken possession of old burrows of pocket gophers, making entrances 
of their own size all along the line of the underground galleries and 
using the pocket-gopher burrows for protected runways. They were 
also good burrowers themselves, and in many places dug their little 
round holes deep into the mellow banks, throwing out fresh earth 
in considerable quantities every night. Scattered remains of half- 
eaten grass stems along their runways show their food to consist 
mainly of grass, but rolled oats and whole oats used for trap bait 
were eagerly eaten. As many mice were caught during the daytime 
as at night and apparently 
at all times of day. More 
than half of those caught 
from September 7 to 14 
were young of various 
sizes, some barely large 
enough to be out of the 

In food and breeding 
habits the dwarf meadow 
mouse apparently differs 
very little from the Rocky 
Mountain one, the only 
other species occupying the 
Canadian Zone of this re- 
gion. The mammae in 
breeding females have the 
same arrangement in 4 
pairs, and the number of 
young as indicated by the 
embryos varies from 4 to 
6, although specimens have 
been recorded containing 
as many as 10. Owing to 
its limited and elevated 
range in New Mexico, it can be considered of little or no economic 

Figure 37. — Distribution of meadow mice in New 
Mexico: 1, Mierotus pennsylvanicus modestus; 
2, M. azetecus ; 3, M. nanus nanus; 4, M. mon- 
tanus arizonensis ; 5, M. mexicanus mogollonen- 
sis. Type localities circled 

Arizona Meadow Mouse: 
Microtus montawus arizonensis Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 12: 88, 1898. 

Type. — Collected at Springerville, Ariz., November 7, 1890, by E. W. Nelson. 

General characters. — Resembles nanus but larger and darker colored with 
cranial characters that place it nearer to montanus. The tail is about one- 
quarter the total length and a little more than twice the length of hind foot. 
The color of the upper parts is darker gray and more brownish than in nanus 
or mordax; while the lower parts are washed with whitish or silvery gray. 

Measurements. — The type measures in total length, 1S4 ; tail, 55 ; hind foot, 
20 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Up to the present time the Arizona 
meadow mouse is known only from three widely separated locali- 


ties — Springerville, Ariz., and Nutria and the Jemez Mountains in 
New Mexico — mainly in the Transition Zone. (Fig. 37.) 

At Nutria, N. Mex., near a large spring at the southern edge of 
the Zuni Mountains, Henshaw secured a specimen in 1874, which is 
still in the National Museum collection. No notes accompany it, 
but it was undoubtedly captured in the marshy ground near the 
spring, which from Henshaw's description seems admirably suited 
to the habits of the species. 

Near Springerville, Ariz., E. W. Nelson collected a series of speci- 
mens in 1890 on wet ground bordering a small creek at the lower 
edge of the pine belt. In Valle San Antonio at 8,300 feet altitude, 
the writer found them numerous in the meadows along the creek, 
and on the slope of Pelado Peak one specimen was caught on a 
grassy slope near a spring at 11,000 feet. This was taken in the 
midst of the Canadian Zone, but seems to be the only specimen taken 
outside of the Transition Zone. 

General habits. — Those in Valle San Antonio were in the rich 
grassy meadows near camp, and a considerable number were col- 
lected. Their runways and burrows could be seen all over the mead- 
ows, especially in the large springs, which come out of the banks 
along the edge of the valley and are full of grass because the 
ground is too soft for cattle to graze over them. The mice fairly 
reveled in these protected spots, and more got into the writer's traps 
than he had time to prepare as specimens. Most of them were 
caught in the daytime in traps baited with rolled oats, which they 
seemed eager to get. In habits they seem to be identical with 
montanus of the valley marshes and springs of Utah and Nevada, 
where they live under somewhat similar conditions. In fact, the 
skins from the Jemez Mountains are to some extent intermediate 
between typical arizonensk and montanus, but for the present it 
seems better to refer them to arizonensis. 

Saguache Meadow Mouse 
Arvioola modesta Baird, Mammals of North America, p. 535, 1859. 

Type. — Collected in Cochetopa Pass, Colo., by Mr. Kreutzfeldt and Lieut. E. G. 
Beckwith, undated but entered in Museum Catalogue in March, 1855. 

General characters. — A large, dark-colored meadow mouse with very soft 
silky fur, and tail about twice the length of the hind foot and slightly more than 
a quarter of the total length. Color of the upperparts dusky brown ; underparts, 
smoky gray in summer, less brownish above and more grayish below in winter. 

Measurements. — Adult male: Total length, 178; tail, 46; hind foot, 23 milli- 
meters ; adult female, 179 ; 49 ; 22 millimeters, respectively. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Saguache meadow mouse, a wide- 
ranging plains and Rocky Mountain species, comes into northern New 
Mexico along both sides of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and one 
colony has been discovered at San Rafael near the eastern point of the 
Zuni Mountains. (Fig. 37.) The species generally occupies both the 
Upper Sonoran and the Transition Zones, but the New Mexico 
localities except San Rafael lie mainly within the Transition. The 
few New Mexico localities represent a somewhat scattered and ragged 
southern edge of the distribution of the species. More detailed 
collecting along the upper Rio Grande and Pecos Valleys will doubt- 


less round out the range and fill in some of the present gaps in our 

General habits. — This western form of the eastern meadow mouse 
more fully justifies the common name than does any other species in 
New Mexico. Its home is almost invariably in the meadows of low 
and middle altitudes where agriculture is important and settlements 
are abundant and where its habits are likely to be well known and 
feared. The mice are fond of wet ground, marshes, and stream 
banks, are good swimmers, and have no objection to running through 
water to and from their feeding grounds, but they thrive just as 
well in dry meadows, clover and alfalfa fields, or even in grainfields, 
where an abundance of growing crops furnishes cover and food. 
They are most conspicuous, however, in the high meadows, where they 
multiply rapidly until the hay harvest begins, when their cover is 
removed, and they are forced to find protection elsewhere and hide 
under haycocks or gather thickly into the grassy fence corners or 
uncut borders. In the hayfields as they run through the grass or 
stubble after being uncovered by rake or pitchfork they are conspicu- 
ously black and are evidently aware of their danger as they rush 
frantically to cover. If any small dogs are in sight the danger is very 
real, for the dogs often kill a large number during a day while fol- 
lowing the hay wagons. There is just enough danger in the sport to 
keep up the dog's excitement, for the mice are pugnacious little 
fighters, and if one ever gets a dog by the nose or lip, a mingling of 
blood and howls is likely to follow. 

Though specimens have been collected at only a few localities in 
northern New Mexico, these would indicate that the species un- 
doubtedly has a much wider range and is much more common than 
at present known. In all the meadows examined in Moreno Valley 
the mice were abundant. They were also plentiful in the extensive 
meadows about Black Lake, along the Hondo Eiver north of Taos, 
in the meadows just below the edge of the mountains, and at many 
localities in the San Luis Valley, Colo., above the New Mexico line. 
The southernmost locality at which they have been found is San 
Rafael, where there are extensive marshes fed by big springs. Here, 
although abundant and forming an extensive colony, they are prob- 
ably somewhat isolated from the general range of the species. It 
is not improbable, however, that they will be found in many marshy 
localities along the Rio Grande Valley above Albuquerque. At San 
Rafael their habits were somewhat unusual, as it is one of the few 
known localities where they occupy alkaline meadows. They were 
abundant along the banks of irrigation ditches, along the little 
streams that drained the springs through the meadows, and through 
the dense patches of tules and saltgrass, as well as over the wet 
marshes and in dry areas of low dense saltgrass. Extensive areas of 
rank cat-tails and tules on soft ground where cattle could not graze 
furnished the safest cover from which they could not be driven by 
enemies, and in which they could take refuge after the hay was cut 
and the more extensive meadows left exposed for the winter. 

Food habits. — Under normal conditions grass and various meadow 
plants form the principal food of these mice, but they are particu- 
larly fond of clover, alfalfa, and any kind of growing grains. In 
the meadows along the Rio Hondo early in August their runways 


extended into the wheat fields, and considerable ripening grain had 
been cut and eaten along the trails. In the marshes at San Rafael 
late in October the blanched bases of grasses and tules seemed to be 
their favorite food in the meadows where hay had been cut and no 
standing grass with seeds remained. Even the white base of the little 
hard spikes of saltgrass seemed to be relished. At that season, how- 
ever, the grainfields had all been harvested and the alfalfa stubble 
grazed so closely that no cover and little food remained for the 
mice in the fields. The green bark of bushes and small trees is often 
eaten by these mice, especially in winter when other green food is 

Breeding habits. — The mammae, as in other species of the group, 
are arranged in 4 pairs, and the number of young in a litter varies 
usually from 4 to 6, but occasionally reaches 7 and even 8 in number. 
Four females collected on the Rio Hondo in early August all con- 
tained fetuses of various sizes, the highest number being 7. In 
Colorado, Loring found litters of 6, 7, and 8 young in their nests. 

Their summer nests are usually placed on the surface of the ground 
under cover of fallen vegetation or if in wet marshes on little elevated 
tussocks above the level of the water. Like those of most meadow 
mice they are hollow balls, often somewhat flattened by the rains, 
and usually composed of soft grass and plant fibers. One or two 
openings at the sides constitute the entrances to the nest chamber 
and connect with runways leading away to other nests, burrows, or 
feeding grounds. Tiny naked young are often found in these surface 
nests. Freshly made nests containing young are often found under 
haycocks that have been standing but a few days. Winter nests are 
placed in the burrows or under haystacks or any such cover that will 
afford warmth and protection during the cold season. 

Hibernation. — Like other species of the genus they are active 
during the winter and enjoy their safest existence when buried 
under the deep snows. 

Economic status. — Fortunately these mice cover but a small part 
of the State of New Mexico, but all their range lies in good farming 
country, and if irrigation extends their area will extend with it. 
The damage they can do to crops is in direct proportion to their 
abundance, and where conditions permit of rapid increase they are 
capable of practically destroying all the crops and fruit. They 
increase very rapidly, and without the check of their natural enemies 
their numbers would soon multiply to alarming proportions. At 
San Rafael hawk and owl pellets were found by the side of nearly 
every fence post in the meadows, composed almost entirely of the 
fur and bones of these mice. The droppings of coyotes and foxes 
along the trails were also filled with their fur and bones. Badger 
and skunk tracks were suggestively numerous in the cow paths over 
the pastures and meadows. The presence of the mice in a meadow 
can usually be predicted when marsh hawks are seen skimming low 
over the ground and pouncing at frequent intervals into the grass or 
mowed ground, for hawks quickly gather to feast on mice that are 
exposed by having their cover removed. Without the check of their 
natural enemies the mice would not only have a more extensive and 
continuous range but would be present in such numbers as to cause 
great losses to crops. 


Azteo Meadow Mouse 
Arvicola (Mynomes) aztecus Allen, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 5: 73, 1893. 

Ti/pe. — Collected at Aztec, San Juan County, N. Mex., altitude 5,900 feet, 
April 23, 1892, by Charles P. Rowley. 

General cluiraeters. — Slightly larger than modestus and more dusky or less 
brownish in color ; the skull has the same tooth pattern, but a relatively longer, 
narrower brain case. Readily distinguished from modestus by skull characters 
but not always by external characters. 

Measurements. — Adult male from Fruitland : Total length, 211; tail, 64; 
hind foot, 23 millimeters ; adult female, 181 ; 51 ; 22.5 millimeters, respectively. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Aztec meadow mouse, a well- 
marked form of the pennsylixt<nicus group, occupies the fertile areas 
of the San Juan River Vallejr in the northwestern part of New 
Mexico. (Fig. 37.) There are specimens from Aztec, Laplata, 
Fruitland, and Farmington, beyond which localities the range of the 
species is unknown. This is in the Upper Sonoran Valley, but many 
Transition Zone plants occupy the stream borders and bottom lands, 
and as these areas are occupied by the mice there is some question as 
to their actual zonal position. 

Genei^al habits. — At Aztec, where Loring collected a large series of 
specimens in December, 1893, they were caught in runways along the 
banks of irrigation ditches and in a patch of high grass close to the 
river that evidently was flooded during- high water. Loring says 
they were often caught in the daytime, and after setting a series of 
traps he would frequently return along the line and find several mice 
in them. At Laplata he also caught them in runways along the 
irrigation ditches. At Fruitland, in October, 1908, Clarence Birdseye 
found one of their runways in the mixed grass and alfalfa along a 
ditch and caught a pair of adult mice in it. At Farmington, in 
November, he found their runways numerous in a little swampy 
meadow back of town, where under a dense growth of saltgrass and 
tules he caught a few specimens. He was told by an old trapper 
living at Farmington that these mice were often caught in mink and 
muskrat traps set in swamps along the river. 

Beyond these few brief notes practically nothing is known of the 
habits of this species. It is probable they are abundant in all the 
suitable meadows and swamps along the San Juan Valley and that 
they have a much wider range than is at present known. 

Their habits seem to be very similar to those of modestus, their 
nearest relative. Of the 33 specimens collected at Aztec by Loring 
in December, six only were adults, the rest being half and two-thirds 
grown young of the year. The different sizes of young may represent 
successive litters and probably indicate that in this warm valley two 
or more litters of young are raised during the summer. 

As more of the valley is brought under cultivation and valuable 
fruits are produced, there is danger that these mice will multiply and 
at times become very destructive. The alfalfa fields will furnish 
favorable food and protection for them, and under such conditions 
their abundance should be closely watched and if they become 
numerous at once reported to the Bureau of Biological Survey. 


Mogollon Meadow Mouse 
Arvicola, mogollonensis Mearns, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 2 : 283, 1890. 

Type. — Collected at Baker Butte, Mogollon Mesa, Ariz., July 26, 1887, by 
E. A. Mearns. 

General characters. — The Mogollon meadow mice are small with short tail and 
feet, tail less than one-quarter of the total length and less than twice the length 
of hind foot. Color of upperparts dull rusty brown; lowerparts, cinnamon 
or buffy gray ; feet and tail grayish brown. 

Measurements. — Average of 10 adult specimens : Total length, 131 ; tail, 28.5 ; 
hind foot, 18 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The little brown Mogollon mice are a 
northern form of the wide-ranging mexicanus group covering the 
plateau region of Mexico, western New Mexico, and central Arizona. 
(Fig. 37.) They occupy the parks and open places in the yellow- 
pine forest area of the Mogollon Mountain region, the Zuni Moun- 
tains, and Mount Taylor. Though abundant over this Transition 
Zone section they seem to be entirely absent from the surrounding 
low country to the south and from the Rio Grande Valley on the 
east. In other words, they seem to be entirely isolated by the lower 

General habits. — On the headwaters of the Rio Mimbres, where 
the writer camped under the big yellow pines, these small brown 
mice were gathered close to an old cabin, and their little runways 
were found in the weeds and grass leading out from among old logs 
and the branches of a fallen tree. Here several specimens were 
caught, always in the daytime, while at night the traps filled up with 
white-footed mice (Peromyscus). Near Elk Mountains, an isolated 
group in the northern part of the Mogollons, their runways were 
discovered in the open parks under the short rich grama grass, and 
a few specimens were taken. Others were taken in the west end of 
Luna Valley and others still farther north in the Datil Mountains, 
all in the yellow-pine country. In the Datil Mountains they were 
living in a small meadow surrounding a spring, as well as in the 
open grassy forest. There they were so numerous that the writer's 
traps quickly filled up with them and many more were taken than 
he had time to save for specimens. 

In the East Datil Mountains, Hollister found a few of their run- 
ways near a small spring at 9,000 feet altitude, and later more of 
them in the dry grassy canyon at the same altitude. The runways 
were deeply worn and led to burrows either at the base of grass 
tufts or under dead logs or trees. In the Zuni Mountains he found 
a few of their runways and caught two of the animals in a damp 
grassy area at the head of Agua Fria Spring; and in the Mount 
Taylor Range in a similar situation at about 9,000 feet altitude he 
found them abundant and collected a series of 12 specimens. Here 
in a damp grassy spot near a small stream the ground was fairly 
covered with their runways leading back and forth between their 
small round burrows. 

In the San Mateo Mountains near Monica Spring E. A. Goldman 
found them common on open grassy hillsides above 9,000 feet where 
well-worn runways led to and from the burrows. Sometimes the 
burrows were placed under the shelter of tufts of grass and in other 


places were fully exposed in the open. In the southern end of this 
range of mountains he also found them common at about 9,000 feet 
on dry slopes among the yellow pines. On the east slope of the 
Mimbres Mountains near Kingston he found them common from 
6,200 to 9,500 feet with the characteristic Transition Zone vegetation. 
Here as usual their runways led from one burrow to another and the 
burrows were usually placed at the base of a tuft of grass, a bush, or 
a stone. A few were found among grass and weeds along a small 
irrigation ditch near the lower edge of the Transition Zone. He 
also found them in the Magdalena and Zuni Mountains, where their 
habits were much the same. 

In most cases these mice seem to prefer the open semiarid parks or 
forests, where there is no permanent water and the only moisture is 
supplied by rain, dew, or green vegetation ; otherwise their habits are 
similar to those of many other species of the genus, their little roads 
and burrows and characteristic excrement merely indicating the 
presence of some species of meadow mouse. Their homes are mainly 
underground in burrows and chambers that they excavate for them- 
selves or else in the abandoned galleries of pocket gophers of which 
they often take possession. 

Food habits. — The food of these meadow mice consists mainly of 
green vegetation, including a large proportion of grasses. The sec- 
tions of plant stems left lying along the runways give a clue to the 
species selected for food, but many of those cut up and left have 
really been rejected, while others have been entirely eaten. The 
tender bases of certain grasses and the seed-laden tops of others seem 
to be the favorite foods. 

Breeding habits. — The mammae in this as in other species of the 
mexicanus group are only 4 in number arranged in 1 pair of 
inguinal and 1 pair of pectoral. The young are usually 2, 
3, or 4 in number, but 1 female caught near old Fort Tularosa on 
October 7 contained 5 large embryos, and another collected by E. A. 
Goldman October 6 on San Mateo Mountain contained 2 small em- 
bryos. Young of various sizes collected at different dates during the 
summer months would indicate that the species breeds several times 
during a season. 

Economic status. — In most of the country occupied by these 
meadow mice there is practically no agriculture. Scattered stock 
ranches occasionally fall within their distribution area, but the mice 
are rarely sufficiently abundant to do serious injury. The open 
country in which they live gives a great advantage to the enemies 
that naturally prey upon them, especially to the hawks and owls, 
which pounce upon them from above. In the Datil Mountains the 
writer caught a badger near one of their colonies and found traces of 
their fur and bones in its stomach. Places where badgers and skunks 
have been digging out their burrows are frequently seen, and their 
fur and bones are often recognized in the droppings of coyotes and 


Guadalupe Meadow Mouse 

Microtias mexicanus guadalupensis Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 15 : 118, 1902. 

Type. — Collected in Guadalupe Mountains, Tex., close to the New Mexico line 
at 7,800 feet altitude, August 21, 1901, by Vernon Bailey. 


General characters. — In guadalupensis the size is slightly larger and the 
colors a little lighter than in mexicanus or mogollonensis. The upperparts are 
dull uniber brown, the underparts buffy gray. 

Measurements. — Type, adult male: Total length, 152; tail, 34; hind foot, 20 

Distribution and habitat. — Specimens of the little short-tailed 
brown Guadalupe meadow mouse have been taken along the Guada- 
lupe, Sacramento, White, and Manzano Mountains east of the Rio 
Grande Valley, mainly in the Transition Zone, to which the species 
evidently belongs. (Fig. 37.) 

General habits. — In the Guadalupe Mountains, in the upper parts 
of Dog Canyon and McKittrick Canyon, these meadow mice were 
common over the open slopes of the mountain, in brushy or grassy 
places from 7,800 to 8,500 feet in the Transition Zone. In the head 
of McKittrick Canyon they lived in the grassy parks and open places 
in the woods, where their runways, burrows, and winter nests were 
abundant under tall grass and weeds. Higher up on the open ridges 
their runways were found winding about among stones, under the 
shinnery oak, and through low bushes on the driest slopes and even 
penetrating well into the edge of dry woods. The runways were very 
distinct and easily followed from one burrow to another or to the 
feeding grounds. During August the nests in use seemed to be 
entirely underground in the chambers of the burrows, but old nests 
of grass on the surface of the ground under cover of vegetation had 
evidently been used during the preceding winter, probably when the 
mountains were buried in snow. 

In September, 1902, Hollister and the writer found these little 
mice common in various localities in the Sacramento and White 
Mountains, and specimens were collected in several localities ranging 
in altitude from 7,500 to 8,500 feet, mainly in open places in the 
yellow-pine forest. At the upper edge of their range specimens were 
collected in the same runways with Microtus mordax. Barber col- 
lected one at 10,000 feet in the White Mountains. 

In the Capitan Mountains Gaut collected specimens on the summit 
of the main ridge near the west end of the range, where he reported 
them as found about decayed pine logs in timbered regions, always 
in dry situations. In the Manzano Mountains he also found them 
abundant at various altitudes from 8,100 to 10,200 feet, usually in 
dry woods, but in one case a colony was found in a marshy place at 
the edge of a small park. On one side of this little grassy meadow 
lay an old decayed log under which was their main runway, many 
side trails branching out in various directions through the short 
grass. He says : 

My first discovery of this colony was in the afternoon of October 16, and at 
that time the little fellows were busily engaged in collecting food, and upon my 
approach scampered off through the grass in all directions. They did not 
appear to be very shy and one particularly bold individual sat up in a runway 
and watched me while I set a trap about 10 feet away on the same trail. A 
few minutes later the same individual was secured in a little out-of -sight mouse 

In other places he found their small trails or runways forming 
networks over the open slopes, and colonies were also found on rocky 
hillsides and under and about logs in the woods. 


Food habits. — In food as well as other habits they seem not to 
differ from the closely related Mogollon meadow mice. Green vege- 
tation seems to form their principal food, and the scattered stems of 
grass and various plants that they have cut along the runways fur- 
nished the only clue to their bill of fare. Rolled oats, grain, or meat 
are acceptable substitutes for their natural food and form very 
attractive trap bait. Occasionally one of the animals is found partly 
eaten in the trap, evidently having been discovered by others of its 
kind, but this does not necessarily mean that cannibalism is a natural 

Breeding habits. — In guadalwpensis as in tivogollonensis the mam- 
mae are arranged in two pairs, and the young probably range from 
two to four in a litter. In the Guadalupe Mountains old females 
were taken containing fetuses late in August. Young and immature 
specimens collected late in summer and in autumn would indicate 
that the breeding season is prolonged. 

Economic status. — As most of the country where this species has 
been found is somewhat arid grazing or forest land where at present 
there is little or no agriculture, the mice may be considered of nega- 
tive economic importance. If they should become excessively numer- 
ous at any time, their drain upon the grazing land might be somewhat 
serious, and in the future when some of this land will be of value for 
certain types of agriculture they may also do some damage, especially 
if the region proves to be valuable for tree fruits. 

Rocky Mountain Mttskrat; Pah-hah-nu-u'-na of the Taos Indians 
Fiber osoyooscnsis Lord, Zool. Soc. London Proc. 1863 : 97. 

Type. — Collected at Osoyoos Lake, British Columbia, Canada, prior to 1863, by 
J. K. Lord. 

General characters. — Size large ; colors dark, in winter heavily overlaid with 
dark hairs on the back and with considerable dusky on belly. In summer, 
bright brown with little trace of black hairs; young, sooty brown. 

Measurements. — Adult male from Farmington, N. Mex., measures in total 
length, 547 ; tail, 233 ; hind foot, 78 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Rocky Mountain muskrat, a large 
dark form, occupies the San Juan and Rio Grande Valleys of 
northern New Mexico. (Fig. 38.) There are specimens from 
Farmington, Costilla River, Rinconada, and Albuquerque, which 
agree perfectly with others from the mountain region of Colorado 
and northwestward to southern British Columbia. 21 

In marshy localities along the streams these muskrats are locally 
common, but not of very general distribution or great abundance in 
any part of New Mexico. At Farmington, Clarence Birdseye found 
them along the San Juan and Animas Rivers in several swampy 
marshes and in some of the main irrigation ditches. He says that 
owing to the nature of their habitat they seldom build houses, and, 

21 The specimen from Albuquerque, collected July 18, is in worn and faded summer 
pelago, with no trace of the black over-hairs and with but a thin layer of bright brown 
hairs above and below to obscure the pale under-fur. It is a little paler than an Aug. 23 
specimen from Costilla River, but is not so pale as other summer specimens of 
osoyoosensis from localities farther north, which are considered typical of the species. 
The skull of this specimen has all the characters of osoyooseiwsis and shows no approach 
to either the little pallidas or equally small ripensis. 



[No. 53 

as might be expected they do considerable harm by burrowing 
through the banks of ditches and thus letting out the water. They 
are trapped to some extent for the fur market. Four specimens that 
Birdseye caught on November 20 are in fine dark, early-winter 
pelage. At Blanco farther up the San Juan Kiver he reported a few 
along the river banks but did not secure specimens. At Taos, the 
writer saw a skin in one of the pueblo houses, and Sun Elk told him 
that there were muskrats in the meadows below the pueblo and also 
in the irrigation ditches. At Rinconada, on the Rio Grande River 
above Espanola, McClure Surber collected two specimens on April 17, 
which were somewhat faded but still in the dark winter pelage. One 
that the writer trapped in a beaver pond on the Costilla River on 
August 23 was in the clear brown summer coat, as was the one taken 

at Albuquerque in July. 
At Albuquerque they were 
common in irrigation 
ditches on the river flats, 
and tracks were also seen 
along the shores of the Rio 
Grande. At Socorro, E. A. 
Goldman was told that 
there were a few along the 
river valley, but he was un- 
able to find any trace of 
them when there in 1909. 

General habits. — In hab- 
its these muskrats do not 
differ from other races ex- 
cept as they adapt them- 
selves to the character of 
the country. As they usu- 
ally live along ditches, 
creeks, and river banks, 
they have no occasion to 
build houses as do those 
living in lakes, ponds, and 
larger marshes ; but this is 
not a peculiarity of the species as in other parts of the country they 
build houses of considerable size. As far as possible they select 
grassy banks and deep, still water for their homes, burrowing into 
the banks from below the surface of the water and excavating com- 
modious nest chambers above the water level. From these secure 
retreats they come out, usually in the evening, and forage after food 
of grass, tules, water plants, and various roots. 

Food habits. — To a great extent their food consists of the tender 
bases or bulbs and roots of certain species of plants. The blades 
and stems of grass and tules left at their feeding places often 
accumulate in little mounds showing the nature of part of their 

Economic status. — The fur of this large dark form commands a 
good price, and where the muskrats are abundant trapping is profit- 
able. In many localities, however, the fur value does not equal the 

Figure 38. — Distribution of muskrats in New Mex- 
ico : 1, Fiber zibethicus osoyoosensis ; 2, F. 
zibethicus pallidas; 3, F. zibethicus ripensis. 
Type locality circled 


losses caused by the animals. In agricultural valleys dependent on 
irrigation, the muskrats should be destroyed, but in the higher parts 
of their range, especially in mountain valleys where there is little 
or no agriculture they are valuable fur-producing animals and 
should be protected, the open season for trapping being made to 
correspond with the time of the best fur. In many cases a large 
part of the fur of such animals is taken at a time when it is of little 
value, and it is only by proper restrictions that trappers are able to 
get the best returns for their time and labor. 

Pecos Muskkat 
Fiber zibethicus' ripens is Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 15 : 119, 1902. 

Type. — Collected along Pecos River at Carlsbad, New Mex., July 26, 1901, by 
Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — Size very small for a muskrat. Colors, pale dull brown 
in summer. Skull small and short with relatively large bullae. 

Measurements. — Type, adult male: Total length, 470; tail, 202; hind foot, 
67 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — So far as at present known the little 
Pecos muskrat is confined to the Pecos River and its tributaries. 
(Fig. 38.) Specimens have been taken at Fort Stockton, Tex., and 
Carlsbad, Roswell, and Santa Rosa, N. Mex. It probably also ex- 
tends into the Rio Grande River along the Texas border, and may 
possibly reach into the southern New Mexico part of the Rio Grande 
Valley, but no specimens have yet been obtained in that region. 

General habits. — Near Carlsbad the Pecos muskrats were common 
in 1902, and six specimens were collected along the banks of the 
river. They were caught on grassy shores along the still water, 
where they burrowed into the banks and found abundant food in the 
tules and grass at the margins of the stream. They were also living 
in the irrigation ditches and doubtless occupied some of the marshes 
fed by the ditches. At Santa Rosa, Gaut collected a series of seven 
specimens in October, 1902. These were just beginning to show the 
darker winter fur but had not completed their fall molt, and no 
specimens of the full winter pelage of the species are yet in the 
Biological Survey collection. Gaut's specimens were found in the 
marshes and small creeks leading out from the enormous springs near 
Santa Rosa and also along the neighboring river banks where still 
water and growing vegetation afforded favorable conditions. It is 
probable that the muskrats occupy many other situations along the 
valley of the Pecos River, but there are long sections of the river too 
irregular in flow and with barren banks that are unsuitable for them. 

The animals are largely nocturnal in habits and are often found 
on their feeding grounds just before dark and again early in the 
morning. Occasionally they are seen swimming about in broad 
daylight, but at the first alarm they dive with a splash and generally 
keep out of sight for some time. They burrow into the banks of 
streams and ditches well below the surface of the water, and can pass 
from one burrow or bank nest to another without showing themselves. 
Their nest chambers in the banks are placed a little above the water 
level and usually have only the one entrance from below. Occasion- 

64909°— 32 14 


ally the nests are broken into from above, but in such cases the open- 
ing is quickly closed as a protection against enemies. Where the 
burrows are placed in the banks of irrigation ditches there is always 
danger of their penetrating to a lower level on the outside and caus- 
ing breaks. A special effort is therefore necessary on the part of 
the farmers and those having the care of the ditches to destroy or 
keep the muskrats out of the main ditches. Various methods have 
been employed for fencing with wire mesh and various traps have 
been recommended for catching the muskrats as they enter the 

Trapping with steel traps should always be done with heavily 
weighted traps near deep water to insure the prompt drowning of 
the muskrats and to prevent the cruel torture of their remaining alive 
with mangled feet or twisting off their feet and escaping. 

Food habits. — The food of this as of other muskrats varies accord- 
ing to the locality in which they live. The roots and tender parts 
of sedges, grasses, and other plants growing in or near the water are 
selected, and numerous fragments left on the feeding shelves along 
the edges of the water show only a part of what has been eaten. 

Economic status. — From its small size and the light color of its fur 
this muskrat is of less value than the larger, darker animals from the 
North. Its fur value probably does not compensate for the damage 
it does in this valley, which largely depends upon irrigation for 
agriculture. It is therefore generally considered as a pest rather 
than as a valuable game or fur animal. 


Arizona Muskrat; Khu-to of the Hualpai Indians (Mearns) ; Pom'- we of the 
Hopi Indians (Mearns, 1907, p. 496) 

Fiber zibcthicus pallidus Mearns, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 2 : 280, 1890. 

Type. — Collected at Fort Verde, Yavapai County, Ariz., in 1885 or 1886 by 
E. A. Mearns. 

General characters. — Size small ; colors very pale in summer with no black 
hairs overlying the fur. Winter pelage apparently unknown, but summer fur 
the palest of any of the muskrats. 

Measurements. — Average of nine topotypes measured by Doctor Mearns : 
Total length, 482 ; tail, 204 ; hind foot, 67 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Hollister (1911, p. 28), in his Systematic 
Synopsis of the Muskrats, gives the range of the Arizona muskrat 
as extending into southwestern New Mexico along the branches of 
the Gila River, and also as occurring in the Rio Grande River at 
Albuquerque. (Fig. 38.) His conclusions are based on one speci- 
men collected at Albuquerque in July, 1889, and on three broken 
skulls taken by Walter Hough from a prehistoric bone cave near the 
Tularosa River and not far from the present town of Reserve. Upon 
a careful reexamination of this material the writer finds it necessary 
to refer the Albuquerque specimen to osoyoosensis. The three skulls 
that Hough took from the ruins of cliff dwellings near the Tula- 
rosa River are not perfect enough to show unmistakable characters. 
They are rather large for the skulls of pallidus, and while not fossil, 
may not represent the species of muskrat at present found in the 
upper branches of the Gila. The admission of pallidus to the New 
Mexico list of mammals is therefore provisional, but muskrats un- 




doubtedly occur in the Gila and San Francisco Rivers in the State, 
and if so, they should on geographic grounds belong to this little 
pale species, which occupies the Gila farther south in Arizona. 

Family CASTORIDAE: Beavers 

Broad-Tailed Beaver; Colorado River Beaver 

Castor canadensis frondator Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. 20 : 502-503, 1898. 
(Advance sheets published March 5, 1897.) 

Type. — Collected at San Pedro River, Sonora, Mexico, near Arizona line, 
October 24, 1892, by E. A. Mearns and F. X. Holzner. 

General characters. — Size about as in canadensis; colors lighter and brighter. 
Upper parts light chestnut; middle of belly reddish chestnut, brightest poster- 
iorly and around base of tail ; 
hind feet dark chestnut; colors 
slightly darker in winter ; young 
very similar to adults. 

Measurements. — Type, adult 
male: Total length, 1,070; tail, 
360 ; hind foot, 185 millimeters. 
Weight of type, 62 pounds. 

Distribution and habitat. — 
There seems to be no New 
Mexico specimens of bea- 
vers that can be referred 
to typical frondator, but 
the beavers occupying the 
branches of the Gila and 
San Juan Rivers undoubt- 
edly belong to this form, 
as do all those examined 
from the drainage of the 
Colorado River system. 
(Fig. 39.) There are still 
a few beavers in the head- 
waters of the Gila where 
they were formerly exceed- 
ingly numerous. There are 
also some in the San Juan River and its tributaries. On the head- 
waters of the Zuni River they were so common in the early days as 
to give the name " Nutria " to one of the principal creeks on the 
south slope of the Zuni Mountains. It is to be hoped that specimens 
will be obtained from these localities to show whether frondator holds 
true to the sources of the streams, which it occupies lower down. 

In 1825 Pattie and his party struck the Gila River near the Hot 
Springs in the Mogollon Mountains, and in his journal (December 
15) Pattie says they caught 30 beavers the first night they were 
encamped on the river. Two weeks later they struck the San Fran- 
cisco River and caught 37 beavers the first night. He further says 
that in one month's trapping along these rivers they secured 250 
beaver skins. (Pattie, 1905.) During February, Pattie and his 
party continued down the Gila to the site of the present town of Red- 

Figure 39. — Distribution of beavers in New Mex- 
ico : 1, Castor canadensis frondator ; 2, C. 
canadensis mexicanus. Type locality circled 


rock and westward into Arizona finding beavers all along the river, 
and at one place west of the New Mexico line they recorded taking 
200 skins in one locality. Pattie also records great numbers of 
beavers taken on the trip farther down the Gila and in the Colorado 
River. In 1892, while at Silver City, Streater was told that beavers 
were still common about the headwaters of the Gila River. In 1906 
the writer was told that some were still in the region, and he saw 
plenty of old dams and cuttings though no fresh signs on Willow 
Creek, one of the extreme head branches of the Gila. In 1908 on the 
headwaters of the San Francisco River the Luna Valley he saw 
fresh tracks and freshly cut branches of willow and cottonwood 
along the stream, but no other evidence of the presence of beavers in 
the various streams of the Mogollon Mountains. They have given 
their name, however, to one of the branches of the east fork of the 
Gila, Beaver Creek, and also to Beaver Dam Creek, a branch of the 
Negrito that flows into the San Francisco River from the east. 
Along Beaver Dam Creek many old clams and numerous old stumps 
of cottonwoods cut down years before were seen, but there were no 
fresh signs. One large narrow-leaved cottonwood had been cut half- 
way through at the base where it measured 26 inches in diameter. 

The same year, 1908, E. A. Goldman reported a few beavers 
living along the Gila River near Redrock. Traces of their work 
were seen at various places along the river banks, and one nest cavity 
entered a low bank among the roots of a large tree. There was 
very little accumulated material at this place, but a small willow 
standing over the nest cavity had been cut until it fell, hanging with 
the trunk still attached to the stump. Two cottonwood trees about 
18 inches in diameter standing on the bank near by had been partly 
cut through a short distance above the ground. The cutting on 
these trunks showed that the work had been carried on at intervals 
for some time. Another beaver nest was found in the bank of the 
Gila about 4 miles above Redrock. Here numerous cottonwood trees, 
willow bushes, and arrowwood stems had been cut and piled into holes 
along the steep bank. Some of the holes were below the water level 
and others 10 or 15 feet above the water in the face of the bank. 
Many of the cottonwood branches were completely stripped of bark 
and had apparently been cut on the opposite side of the river a 
hundred yards below, dragged 40 or 50 feet to the water and then 
towed upstream. Most of the branches were about half an inch in 
diameter and some were 3 or 4 inches through. Large cottonwood, 
willow, and sycamore trees near the nest showed old scars where they 
had been cut into at various times. A few slides were seen along the 
banks where the beavers were in the habit of coming from and return- 
ing to the water, and it was evident that a number were actively at 
work along this part of the river, although a party of trappers had 
systematically trapped them out only a few years before. 

In 1915 J. S. Ligon was told by J. J. Pitts, who settled in Apache 
Canyon in western Socorro County in 1883, that there were then two 
large beaver dams across the canyon, a distance of about 200 yards, 
backing up the water in deep, smooth ponds surrounded by dense 
growths of willows. All the beavers along this stream as well as 
along the Frisco River were caught by an old trapper from Texas in 

North American Fauna No. 53, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey 

PLATE 1 1 

44 M B7167A 

A, Beaver (Castor canadensis) photographed by Ben East; B, heaver house in pond on head of 
Costilla River; the house is about 20 feet wide at the surface of the water and 6 feet high above, 
and about the same below the water line 


1884 and 1885, with the result that the canyon is now a barren, 
bowlder-strewn wash. 

On April 21, 1916, Ligon reported a small colony of beavers on the 
East Gila River, west of the Black Range, and in the Middle Gila he 
found that there were a considerable number, one colony on the 
T. J. ranch being well protected. 

In the San Juan River Valley in October, 1908, the writer found 
freshly cut willows stranded along the stream near Fruitland, and 
there were many old stumps left from earlier cuttings along the river 
flats. In this same valley Clarence Birdseye later found traces of 
them down the river at Liberty and near Farmington and Blanco; 
also along the Animas River and in some of the large irrigation 
ditches. They were reported as steadily increasing in numbers and 
he says : 

They had followed down the Farmington ditch from the Animas River to 
about a mile above town, where their work could be seen within 100 yards of 
the electric light plant. Their habit of entering the ditches has caused a strong 
feeling against the beavers, for they are continually either damming the ditches 
or letting the water out by burrowing through the banks. There is particular 
danger of this occurring in the main ditch because it runs for a considerable 
distance along a side hill and any break in the lower bank quickly enlarges and 
floods the country below. 

At Blanco Birdseye found cottonwoods and willows cut along both 
banks of the river and numerous slides where the beavers came out 
on the banks. Here also he reported the beavers as following the 
ditches for a considerable distance from the river and sometimes 
cutting and damming the banks. In one place he saw several wagon- 
loads of cottonwood branches, willows, tumbleweeds, cat-tails and 
other material that had been removed from the ditch where the 
beaver had built their dam. 

A very full and interesting account of the habits of this species of 
beaver is given by Mearns in his report on the Mammals of the 
Mexican Boundary Survey. (1907, p. 350-362.) 

Rio Grande Beaver ; Pah-ya'-nah of the Taos Indians 
Castor canadensis mexicanus Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 26 : 191, 1913. 

Type. — Collected at Ruidoso Creek, 6 miles below Ruidoso, N. Mex., September 
29, 1899, by C. M. Barber. 

General characters. — Size of frondator; colors duller and paler; upperparts 
dull rusty brown ; belly clear drab or pale buffy gray, slightly darker in 
winter, paler in summer ; young very similar to adults. 

For some years it has been customary to refer the beavers of the Rio Grande 
drainage to frondator, but sufficient material has now come into the collections 
to show that they are markedly different from those of the Colorado drainage. 
The characters seem to be very constant throughout the Rio Grande and Pecos 
drainage in both New Mexico and Texas, although in the higher mountains of 
northern New Mexico they show a tendency to darker coloration, and probably 
a gradation toward frondator or canadensis. 

Measurements. — Type, adult female : Total length, 1,070 ; tail, 400 ; hind foot, 
174 millimeters. Weight, 47 pounds. 

Distribution and habitat. — A few beavers (pi. 11, A) are still to be 
found at intervals along the Pecos and Rio Grande Rivers and on 
some of the tributary streams. (Fig. 39.) 


In 1826, the younger Pattie, with his party of free trappers, trapped 
for beavers all along the Pecos River from 20 miles above its mouth 
up to the first Spanish settlement (probably Anton Chico), which 
was then a town of 500 inhabitants. (Pattie, 1905, p. 16.) 

In 1898, C. M. Barber collected specimens of beavers on the Ruidoso 
Greek, a branch of the Rio Hondo, on the east slope of the Sacra- 
mento Mountains, and published the following note (Barber, 1902, 
p. 192) : 

In September of 1898, I located a large colony of beavers about six miles 
below Ruidoso Post Office, on the Ruidoso Creek, Lincoln County, New Mexico. 
After a period of probation spent in learning their habits and how to trap them, 
I succeeded in securing a series of eleven specimens, representing all ages. 
This species lives here in the creek bank, and little attempt was made to deepen 
the stream by damming it. I found old cuttings up the stream to an altitude of 
about 8,000 feet. At the time I visited the colony they were living among the 
Mexican ranches at about 6,000 feet elevation. At that season (September to 
November) they were feeding on corn alone, although a few scarred willows 
were to' be seen along the bank. The Mexicans had planted their corn right 
down to the water's edge to utilize all the available ground in the narrow 
valley. The beavers were cutting and dragging the corn to the stream, then 
floating it to their clens. In places there was a wagon load of stalks in the 
water. Near the dens they had cleaned the ground for a hundred feet on either 
side and made great trails in dragging stalks to the stream. The Mexicans 
could not trap them, and as they never appeared in the day time and seldom in 
the twilight, very few were killed. 

Five of Barber's specimens were obtained by the Biological SurA T ey 
and one has served for the type of the species. 

From 1881 to 1884, L. L. Dyche made several hunting and collecting 
trips to the headwaters of the Pecos River, and in a letter dated 
February 10, 1911, he writes that there were then a considerable 
number of beavers about 15 miles from the head of the Pecos River. 
He says : 

From Beatty's cabin for a number of miles down the river beaver clams were 
quite common, and in the pools which were caused by these dams I found the 
best trout fishing of any locality I have ever visited in the Rocky Mountains. 

In 1902 the writer followed down Ruidoso Creek and found that 
there were still a few beavers along this stream, which, with its 
sections of deep water and steep banks, is peculiarly adapted to the 
habits of beavers. In 1903 he also visited the headwaters of the 
Pecos River and found that they were still occupying some of the 
streams in that region. A family lived in the bank of the Pecos 
near Ribera, and a dam was reported near Willis where the animals 
were then at work. There were old cuttings along many of the 
other streams, but in most cases the beavers had been entirely trapped 
out. Near the headwaters of the Media River, northwest of Pecos 
Balcly at about 10,000 feet, a beautiful little beaver meadow was 
found where a large dam thrown across the creek had raised the 
depth of the water to 5 or 6 feet. In the pond which had been 
formed above this dam several large stick and mud houses had been 
built, and probably 100 poplar trees ranging from 4 to 8 inches in 
diameter besides a great amount of willow brush had been cut for 
building material along the margins of the meadow. The dam had 
been broken several years before, leaving the houses dry, and these 
had been broken into and the beavers were all gone. This little 
meadow, with its border of aspens and willows surrounded by the 


spruces of the mountain slope, must have been an attractive spot 
when occupied by the beavers. Without the beavers it was merely 
a dried-up marsh, overgrown with a tangle of willows, which had 
crowded out even the aspens from the 2 or 3 acres of creek bottom 
that had been occupied by the beaver colony. 

Many similar places along the high mountain streams were found 
where beavers had formerly been common but had been trapped 
out, because in such localities the dams are easily broken and the 
beavers can be caught or killed without much trouble or even the 
skill necessary for ordinary trapping. In the deep water of the 
larger valley streams they are not so easily caught, and fortunately 
enough have escaped in spite of persistent trapping to prevent the 
complete extermination of the species. 

In many places along the canyons of the Rio Grande above 
Santa Fe there were still some of the animals in 1903-4, and trappers 
were then catching them in considerable numbers. In 1889 the 
writer was told that there were a few in the Rio Grande River near 
Albuquerque, and in 1909, E. A. Goldman saw some old beaver 
cuttings near Socorro and was told that there were still a few along 
the river. He also saw signs of them at Garfield and found them 
common in the Rio Grande near Las Palomas, and they were 
reported near Las Cruces. At Las Palomas he found where nearly 
all the willows had been cut over an area of about an acre, and many 
cottonwood trees had also been cut, while along the river banks were 
numerous fresh tracks and places where the beavers had worn the 
banks in going in and out of the water. The trunks of the cotton- 
woods lay where they had fallen but were stripped of a large part of 
the bark, while the smaller branches had been cut and carried away. 
At another place, about 5 miles below Las Palomas, he reported 15 or 
20 acres of willow and cottonwood bottoms that had been practically 
cleared by beavers. In 1915, J. S. Ligon reported them as becoming 
abundant in places along the Rio Grande above and below San 
Marcial, where there were some complaints of their felling trees 
across the fences. 

In such localities beavers live entirely in the banks of the rivers 
and select the deepest water for their operations. They are not 
easily trapped and usually remain the longest where they do real 
damage, while in the higher mountains where they can do no damage 
they are easily caught and quickly destroyed. In the San Juan 
Mountains in 1904 the writer found a beaver house and dam that were 
not very old on the west slope leading down into the Brazos Canyon, 
but he found no fresh beaver work in these mountains at that time. 
In the Taos Mountains in the same year no fresh beaver signs were 
found, although beavers were said to have occupied Pueblo Creek, 
Hondo River, and the Red River only a few years before. Some old 
stumps and cuttings were seen along these streams but no fresh work, 
although beavers were then fairly common along the Rio Grande into 
which these streams flowed. Farther north in the Culebra Mountains 
an active colony was found in the upper part of the Costilla River 
at an altitude of 9,400 feet. 

General habits. — The Costilla at this point was a narrow creek 
across which beavers had thrown several dams and along which they 
had built a number of houses, which had probably been used for 


generations. The locality was peculiarly favorable to their needs, 
comprising a narrow willow bottom stretching along the creek for a 
quarter of a mile and covering probably 6 or 8 acres of ground. On 
one side the mountain rose in steep wooded slopes covered with spruce 
and aspens, while on the other the open hillsides were dotted with 
yellow pines and Douglas spruce. At the time of the writer's visit, 
October 23, although the stream was low, averaging about 2 feet deep, 
with a width of only 20 feet, it had a strong current. The beavers 
had recently thrown a new dam across it from one edge of the valley 
to the other, a distance of about 15 rods, forming a pond of some 2 or 
3 acres, which reached back to the edge of the old dam. The old dam 
had been cut with axes to let out the water, some of the beavers had 
been killed, and the carcass of an old male lay rotting in the pond. 
The old main house had been cut into and the beavers had partially 
abandoned the pond and built a new dam and a new house below, but 
they had also repaired the break in the upper dam and at the end of 
the writer's stay were repairing the old house. The water in the 
upper pond was still 2 feet below the level of the top of the dam and 
was clear and full of trout, while the water in the lower pond where 
the beavers were raising the dam and enlarging the house was usually 
somewhat muddy as it flowed over the top of the dam. 

For a couple of days the writer watched the construction of this 
new dam with great interest, visiting it in the dusk of the evening 
and before daylight to watch the work of the beavers. First they 
brought sticks and laid them on and then they brought up armfuls 
of mud from the bottom, pushing it in front of them up over the 
sticks and onto the edge of the dam. The sticks were thus securely 
plastered in and held the mud firmly as the water pressed against 
it from above. While the level of the middle part of the dam was 
raised both ends were being extended as the water in the pond 
spread out. These extensions were made along the nearly level 
surface of the ground by laying a row of willow stems, sticks, and 
leaves along on the ground and covering it with wet earth taken from 
under the advancing water. After this more sticks were laid on top 
and more mud shoved up from the bottom, all the work being 
carried on from the upper side of the dam. 

At that time the dam averaged 2 or 3 feet high across most of the 
gulch bottom, but on the lower side where it crossed the old river bed 
it reached the height of 6 feet above the water. The deepest part of 
the pond was then about 8 feet, but the greater part of it was only 
2 or 3 feet deep. The writer waded over much of the shallower 
part and found it cut up with channels or canals that the beavers 
used in swimming to and from their house and from which they 
apparently brought much of the earth for building the dam. The 
upper surface of the dam sloped well back into the pond, and the 
sticks were so thoroughly covered with mud that it seemed like 
solid earth, while the lower face of the dam showed no mud and 
looked like a tangle of willow stems. 

A large part of the building material was willows that had been 
cut in the pond and floated down to the dam. Some of these were 
poles 20 feet long with the branches still attached, and others had 
been cut into shorter sections for convenience in handling. There 
were pieces of old logs and branches of trees, some of them 6 feet 



long and 6 inches in diameter, and many of smaller size. All the old 
dry sticks that they could handle were gathered for building mate- 
rial, but most of the wood was freshly cut or had been cut the j^ear 
before for food, the bark having been eaten off before it was used for 
building purposes. Great clusters of diamond willow {Salix cor data 
watsoni) grew here and there in the new pond and also in the old 
pond above, furnishing abundant food and building material. They 
also afforded protection, partially concealing the animals while at 
work on their houses and dams. 

Along the steep slope bordering the pond a dense grove of second- 
growth aspens 2 to 6 inches in diameter reached down to the water's 
edge. Many of these had been cut for building material and food, 
and both freshly cut and old stumps were standing from a few inches 
to a foot high. Most of the trunks and branches had been carried 
away. A few of the larger trees near the edge of the water had 
been recently cut down, and one tree about 8 inches in diameter had 
been cut about half way through at the base when the writer first 
saw it. The next night a log of about the same size was cut near 
by, but the tree was left untouched. The following night the tree 
was gnawed until it stood on a peg not over 2 inches through and 
during the day it fell of its own accord. The aspens and willows 
were of no particular value, and no other species of trees had been 
attacked by the beavers. In fact, there is little else in these mountains 
that they would cut in the way of timber, as they rarely touch any 

A new beaver house was being built in the lower pond, but it was 
then only about 10 by 12 feet in diameter and 5 feet high above the 
surface of the water, but as the water was 2 or 3 feet around it, its 
actual height was 7 or 8 feet, and its diameter as it rested on the 
bottom somewhat greater than that at the surface of the water. It 
was well built, consisting mainly of fresh sticks thickly plastered 
with mud from the bottom of the pond, shoved up over the sides 
each night until the sticks were firmly bedded and almost covered. 
The house was so surrounded and concealed by the dense willows that 
in the dusk of evening the beavers could not be seen at work, but 
they could be heard in the water, and an occasional heavy splash 
was heard as one would slide off the house into the pond. 

The old beaver house (pi. 11, B) in the upper pond was consider- 
ably larger, being approximately 30 feet long by 18 feet wide and 
6 feet high above the water level. One end came close to the edge 
of the steep bank, but with that exception the house was surrounded 
by water, which was approximately 6 feet deep around the greater 
part of it, making the actual height of the house about 12 feet. It 
had been broken into at both ends and was only partly repaired. It 
was composed of sticks of all kinds and sizes from willow brush to 
the trunks and branches of small aspens, many of which had first 
been peeled for food and then used for building material. The sticks 
were embedded in a matrix of mud and debris from the bottom of the 
pond and in walking over the top of the house the writer found it as 
firm as solid earth. When first walking over the house he evidently 
disturbed a visitor inside, either a mink, which was later seen com- 
ing out of one of the openings, or possibly a muskrat that the next 
morning was found sitting on the edge of the house when the beaver 


was inside. The lawful occupants of the house were not there at 
the first visit, but early the next morning he found a big beaver inside 
and for 10 or 15 minutes stood close to the opening used as a doorway 
by the mink watching the animal as it filled the passage with sticks 
and mud from within until it was securely closed. The sticks it 
brought in were freshly peeled and it placed them crisscross against 
the little window before plastering it over. 

Although the writer never saw more than one of the beavers at 
a time, from the amount of work they were doing he concluded that 
there must be three or four and possibly five or six of the old animals 
and probably one or two families of young in the colony. A half- 
grown young of the year, weighing about 20 pounds, was collected for 
a specimen, but otherwise the colony was not disturbed. They were 
not very shy. One old fellow came up and shoved a load of mud 
onto the dam within 20 feet of him well after daylight one morning, 
swimming off under the willows with its whole back out of water. 
A little later a big head bobbed up in the pond, passed along nearly 
to the dam, and then disappeared under water. Again, close to the 
shore a beaver swam past only 2 or 3 rods away, turning back when 
it saw him on the shore, where it evidently wanted to land to finish 
cutting down a tree. Before it was half light they became active 
and could be heard splashing as they worked before they could be 
seen, while at twilight when they were busily at work on both dam 
and house they splashed noisily. The stomach of the one collected 
was full of bark and green leaves, seemingly of the willow. Its flesh 
was light colored and when cooked was tender and excellent. The flesh 
of the tail, mainly white, fatty tissue, was rich and tender, and espe- 
cially delicious in a well-done stew. Some of the pieces of beaver 
meat had a musky flavor, which evidently came from the musk 
glands. Even in this young male the abdominal musk gland was 
well developed and the sacks filled with considerable musky mate- 
rial with a tenacious odor which could not be removed from the 
hands for two or three clays. The "pods," as the musk sacks are 
called, lie under the skin along each side of the penis, and while in 
an adult they are often 5 or 6 inches long, in this half -grown young 
they were between 2 and 3 inches long. (For full accounts of the 
beaver's habits see Bailey, 1927, and Warren, 1927.) 

Breeding Jmbits. — The female beaver has 4 mammae arranged 
well forward on the breast, the anterior pair being almost on the 
throat. The number of young seems to be normally 4, although 
records of 2 and 3 embryos are common and as high as 6 or 8, have 
been recorded. Evidently 4 is the usual number. The young are 
brought forth in the house or bank nests and are well furred at 
birth. Little is known, however, of the actual breeding habits of 
beavers in spite of the fact that they are one of the most important, 
best known, and longest studied of our North American mammals. 

Food habits. — The beavers usually store large quantities of green 
wood in the ponds within reach of their houses or bank burrows 
where it can be brought up for food at any time during winter. 
A large part of their food is evidently willow rootlets, which line the 
stream banks and are always available as a perennial suppty of 
fresh and tender food. The remains of these rootlets are often 


found in the houses, and the writer has watched the beavers diving 
along the banks for such food and then eating it on the surface 
of the water with only their ears and nose protruding. Bark from 
trees and bushes is the principal food at certain seasons, but in 
summer grass and green vegetation are extensively eaten. 

Economic status. — Information gathered from many sources indi- 
cates that the beavers in certain localities are exceedingly injurious 
to crops, timber, and ditches. Over a large part of their range, 
however, they are absolutely harmless and could be protected and 
allowed to increase to great numbers without danger of any harm. 
Needless to say they are not desirable in agricultural valleys and 
especially in irrigated valleys. 

In the pastures of the Victoria Land & Cattle Co. along the Rio 
Grande south of San Antonio, J. S. Ligon reported beavers as 
abundant in 1916. They were said to cut a great deal of timber 
and cause some annoyance by felling trees across the wire fences 
and allowing the cattle to escape. Ligon also reported that late in 
the winter of 1916 permits were issued for trapping 100 beavers 
from the Rio Grande in the outskirts of Albuquerque, where farmers 
were complaining bitterly of the damage they were doing. 

During 1910 and 1911 more than 900 permits were issued to 
parties in New Mexico who claimed that beavers were doing damage 
to their property and requested the privilege of catching them. 
The following year an order was issued requiring the skins of all 
beavers thus taken to be turned in to the game department, and the 
complaints of damage from beavers suddenly ceased, (de Baca, 
1914, p. 83.) At that time the water company of Santa Fe was 
offering $50 a pair for beavers to be placed in the upper part of 
Santa Fe Can} r on to aid in conserving the water supply for the city. 

On almost all the mountain streams they should be protected 
and encouraged. A series of beaver ponds and dams along the head- 
waters of a mountain stream would hold back large quantities of 
mountain water during the dangerous flood season and equalize the 
flow of the streams so that during the driest seasons the water 
supply would be greatly increased in the valleys. Beaver ponds 
not only hold water but distribute it through the surrounding soil 
for long distances, acting as enormous sponges as well as reservoirs. 
A series of ponds also increases the fishing capacity and furnishes a 
safe retreat for the smaller trout and protection from their enemies. 
In addition a protected beaver colony is one of the most interesting 
features of mountain or forest, as with protection the animals become 
less wary and more diurnal in their habits so that they can be readily 
observed and studied by those traveling and camping in wild re- 
gions. From an economic point of view the conservation of animals 
valuable for food and fur is of no small importance, even if many 
years are required for their increase to such numbers as the region 
will support. A legitimate amount of trapping should eventually 
yield large annual returns over extensive areas of the country from 
which they have been almost exterminated. If the darkest and most 
valuable beavers from northern Michigan and Wisconsin were used 
for stocking streams, the value of fur returns would be greatly 


Family ERETHIZONTIDAE: Porcupines 


Yellow-haired Porcupine; Sa ma-na of the Taos Indians 

Erethison epixanthus Brandt, Mem. Acad. Imp. Sci., St. Petersbourg (6) 3: 
390, 1835. 

Type locality. — California. 

General characters. — Body short and wide and legs very short. Surface, except 
on belly, feet, and nose, covered with sharp quills. Winter fur black, almost 
concealing quills, long overhairs yellow or yellow tipped. Summer fur concealed 
by the quills which are conspicuous through the scattering yellow hairs. 

Measurements. — A large male from Montana measures in total length, 875; 
tail, 314 ; hind foot, 112 millimeters. "Weight of adults, about 20 to 30 pounds. 

Distribution and habitat. — Porcupines (pi. 12, A) are common 
throughout the mountains of northern New Mexico from the valleys 
up to timber line, and they are not infrequently found in the valleys 
along brushy streams or canyons and on cliffs. They are variable in 
abundance, some years being fairly numerous and others very scarce. 
In the Pecos River Mountains one was secured near camp at 8,500 
feet, just above Willis on the head of the Pecos, in July, 1903, and a 
few old gnawings on the trees were seen, but at that time they were 
said to be scarce in that vicinity. In the Taos Mountains farther 
north they were found fairly common in August, 1904. A few skins 
were seen hanging in the Indian houses at the Pueblo of Taos, and at 
one of the Indian dances a striking headdress of porcupine skin was 
worn by one of the dancers. In the low country the porcupines were 
scarce, but on the head of Lake Fork of the Hondo a few of their 
characteristic gnawings were found on the pines in the mountains at 
11,400 feet altitude. In the Jemez Mountains they were found com- 
mon throughout the forest up to the tops of the highest peaks and 
down through the nut pines to the pueblo of Jemez. Their greatest 
abundance, however, seems to be in the Canadian-zone forests from 
9,000 feet upward. Fresh signs were found on the mountain slopes, 
and winter signs were abundant, both in piles of dry pellets under the 
trees and bare patches where the bark had been gnawed from the 
trunks and branches of pines and firs. In the San Juan Mountains a 
large number of gnawed trees were seen, and the remains of a dead 
porcupine was found near camp at 9,900 feet. On the Jicarilla 
Indian Reservation in 1904 they were abundant in the timber near 
Horse Lake, where many trees had been gnawed to such an extent as 
to seriously injure them. In one gulch in close proximity the writer 
counted nine small-sized pines with the tops killed and the leaves 
turning brown from the loss of bark on their trunks and branches. 
Some were killed at the tops for 8 or 10 feet down and others for only 
2 or 3 feet, but many others had the branches killed and in large 
spots the bark had been gnawed from the trunks. In neighboring 
gulches numerous other trees were seen similarly gnawed and often 
partly or wholly killed. In this vicinity there were probably 100 
trees the tops of which had been killed by porcupines. One tree that 
had been partly peeled at the base by the Indians and at the top by 
porcupines had succumbed to its wounds and stood dead and brown. 
At Stinking Spring Lake (now Burford Lake) on the Jicarilla In- 
dian Reservation the writer also found a few yellow pines with the 

North American Fauna No. 53, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey 


E23:57 E23430 

A, Yellow-haired porcupine (Ercthizon epixanthum) photographed at Crested Butte Colo., 
in 1903 by E. R. Warren; B, Baird's pocket mouse (Perognuthus flams) , the smallest rodent in 
New Mexico, about natural size 


tops gnawed and branches killed, and a few nut pines somewhat 
injured. One Douglas spruce had been gnawed near the top, but 
the yellow pine seemed to be the favorite food in this region. 

General hktbits. — In the Taos Mountains near the head of Lake 
Fork of the Hondo, in August, 1904, in an abandoned miner's 
cabin, which the porcupines had evidently occupied during the pre- 
vious winter, most of the furniture had been partly destroyed by 
them. The legs of the table were gnawed almost in two, and a large 
part of the top of the table had been cut away. A soap box that 
had evidently contained bacon had been gnawed until only a few 
strips and corners remained. Other boxes and shelves and even the 
ends of logs that the table stood on were greatly cut away by the 
big chisel teeth of porcupines. In the rocks a hundred feet above 
camp one had spent the previous winter and left a bushel of oval 
sawdust pellets to mark its entrance to a big cavity under the bowl- 
ders. Near by there were also several bare spots on the sides of 
spruce trees from which patches of bark had been eaten, and one 
Engelmann spruce had been so extensively peeled that it had died 
after one year of effort to heal its scars. 

The only porcupine seen in the Jemez Mountains was a fine old 
male discovered at dusk as it started up a large yellow-pine trunk. 
It climbed so slowly that the writer was able actually to get to the 
tree and push it out before it got beyond reach and to collect it for 
a specimen. As he had to carry it for about a mile on horseback 
at arm's length it seemed very heavy, and at camp he was surprised 
to find that it weighed only 16 pounds. While the animal was on 
the ground the writer tried to roll it over with a stick, and although 
it did not try to run away or escape up the tree, it stubbornly 
resisted being turned over, as if it knew the vulnerability of its 
lower parts, and when pried up sideways would reverse ends quickly 
and strike the stick with its tail. Though most of its actions were 
slow and stupid, the strokes of the tail were quick and powerful and 
seemed to be its principal means of defense. Care was taken that its 
tail did not come within reach of the writer's feet, as the quills 
would have been driven through any leather. After its determined 
efforts to stay right side up, it gave a vigorous shake, such as a dog 
gives on coming out of the water, and a shower of loose quills that 
the writer had disturbed in poking it about flew in all directions to 
a distance of 4 or 5 feet. Though the quills did not go with any 
force, the action gave some color to the superstition that porcupines 
can throw their quills with serious results. 

Food habits. — Porcupines do not hibernate, and in winter their 
food consists mainly of the inner bark of trees, obtained by means 
of the large chisel teeth, which first remove the rough outer bark 
and then cut out as much of the tender inner bark as is needed for 
food. Evidently the food value of this material is very low, as 
great quantities are required for sustenance, and the enormous 
stomach often contains a quart of ground-up bark fiber. _ If the 
animal feeds upon one tree for several days sufficient bark is some- 
times removed to completely girdle the trunk, or large areas are 
taken from one side and then another until the tree is seriously 
injured or is killed. In rare cases the whole trunk of the tree and. 
even the branches are denuded of bark and the death of the tree made 


certain, but more often the animal feeds first on one tree and then 
on another until many are injured. In New Mexico the yellow 
pine and nut pine suffer most, but the bark is also eaten from foxtail 
pine (Pinus aristata) , Douglas spruce, blue and Engelmann spruces, 
and nr trees. In the Pecos River Mountains at 10,000 feet in 
April, 1917, M. E. Musgrave reported about a third of the trees 
barked in a 10-acre stand of foxtail pine, but at that time the porcu- 
pines had moved to other pastures. In summer when green vege- 
tation is available it is preferred to tree bark, and the porcupines 
graze on a great variety of herbaceous plants. They also eat the 
leaves and twigs of many shrubs and are fond of fruit and berries. 
In winter their pellets of excrement, little oval briquettes of saw- 
dust, accumulate in great quantities under the feeding trees or near 
their dens in the rocks, sometimes several bushels in a place, but in 
summer the pellets from the green food are of a very different ap- 
pearance, more like those of deer or sheep. 

Breeding habits. — In the females the mammae are arranged in 2 
pairs of pectoral, or sometimes given as 1 pair of pectoral and 1 pair 
of abdominal, as they are close together in a square near the point 
of the sternum. One young seems to be the usual number, and this 
is very large at birth with a well-developed coat of hair and in most 
cases of spines. 

Economic status. — When abundant porcupines are capable of doing 
great injury to the forest trees, but fortunately they are not usually 
of sufficient numbers in New Mexico to cause serious losses. Their 
slow rate of breeding is compensated by their comparatively few 
enemies and their efficient means of self-protection, but when they do 
become numerous, as in some localities they are known to do, every 
effort should be made toward their destruction. (Gabrielson and 
Horn, 1930.) E. E. Warren, of Colorado, reports that a few are 
killed by mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes, but apparently the 
number is not very great as their quills are not often found in these 
animals. Most dogs soon learn to let them alone, and it is probable 
that most wild animals have a wholesome respect for their outer 
covering of spines. Generally they are shot or otherwise killed on 
sight by hunters and trappers and also by those especially interested 
in forest protection. Still they have a real value in their interest to 
campers and nature lovers who care to study the home habits of our 
native wild life and can see the good in each form and sympathize 
with the humblest. 

Arizona Porcupine 

Erethizon epixanthws couesi Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. 19: 723, 1897 
(advance sheets, July 30, 1897). 

Type. — Collected at Fort Whipple, Ariz., prior to 1S65, by Elliott Cones. 

General characters. — Size smaller and colors paler than in typical epixanthum ; 
skull with larger audital bullae and other characters. 

Measurements. — A large male from the San Mateo Mountains measures : 
Total length, 780 ; tail, 195 ; hind foot, 102 millimeters. 

Distribution, and, habitat. — Specimens of the Arizona porcupine 
from the Mogollon Mountain region, Zuni Mountains, San Juan 
Valley, and Chuska Mountains are provisionally referred to this 


southern form of porcupine, although the individual variation seems 
to cover most of the alleged characters of the subspecies, and no 
definite line can be drawn between the ranges of the two. Much of 
the range of this southern form is in the comparatively low country, 
and the animals are often as common in the nut pine and juniper 
areas as in the heavily timbered mountains. In the Sacramento 
Mountains near Cloudcroft in 1900 the writer found trees gnawed 
by porcupines, and in 1916, Ed. Anderson collected a specimen 5 
miles south of Elk in this range. Throughout the Mogollon Moun- 
tain region, including the Mimbres, San Mateo, Magdalena, and 
Datil Ranges, they are generally common. 

General habits. — Trees from which the bark had been gnawed were 
seen along the edge of the canyon of the east fork of the Gila near the 
head of the Rio Mimbres and about Beaver Lake. At the latter 
place a long-used porcupine den was found under the great bowlders 
of a little side canyon where bushels of old winter pellets filled 
the cavities among the bowlders at the foot of the cliff, and fresh 
pellets of the green summer food were scattered about over the sur- 
face. Along the edge of the cliff near by a dozen small yellow pines 
were so largely stripped of their bark that some of them were killed 
and others practically ruined for future development, while on many 
of the larger trees the limbs or tops had been partly peeled by these 
bark-eating rodents. It was impossible to obtain any specimens, as 
the porcupines kept well back in their little caves under the rocky 
strongholds upon which they had evidently depended for many years. 
In Luna Valley at the western edge of the Mogollon Mountains there 
were said to be a few that occasionally made trouble for the dogs, 
but at the time of the writer's visit in September, 1908, none was 

In 1916, one was collected by Ed. S. Steel 15 miles north of Luna. 
In the San Mateo Mountains in 1909, E. A. Goldman found several 
dens in the crevices of the cliff about Indian Butte, at elevations of 
7,800 to 8,000 feet. In some places more than a bushel of excrement 
was scattered in and about the cave doors, and one of the animals was 
trapped for a specimen. Goldman says : 

The porcupine in the trap persistently turned his back toward me as I 
approached and held all the spines on the lower part of his back crisscrossed, 
pointing in every direction, and ready for attack ; his tail laid close to the 
ground, and when I touched it light with a stick a quick, vigorous flirt upward 
was evidently calculated to repel the attack of any enemy. Along the cliffs 
near this den many pinyon pines had patches of bark stripped from their trunks 
and branches to such an extent that some of the trees had been killed. Two 
or three Arizona oaks and several junipers had been nibbled, but only to a 
slight extent. 

In the Magdalena Mountains he also reported their gnawings on 
the pinyon pines. 

Hollister reported a few porcupines in the Datil Mountains, and the 
writer found their characteristic gnawings on nut pines and yellow 
pines along Largo Canyon and in the Pinyon and West Datil Ranges. 
On the Zuni River just above the Arizona line the quills and bones of 
a dead porcupine were seen by the side of the road, and at Cibola 
(Zuni) Coronado reported " porkenspikes " among other animals in 
1540. (Whipple et al., 1856, p. 110.) In the Zuni Mountains, 
Hollister reported them as fairly common, and E. A. Goldman 


reported them as common in both the Transition and the Canadian 
Zones and said that they worked mainly on the pines. Several young 
trees were noticed that had been entirely girdled and at least the tops 
killed. He also found where they had stripped the bark from pinyon 
pines in the hills north of Thoreau. Over the slopes of Mount Taylor 
in 1905 Hollister reported porcupine signs, and in 1906 the writer 
found gnawings on the blue spruce high up on the mountain and 
some fresh signs among the broken rocks at the very top of the main 
peak. On the great ridge north of Chaco Canyon porcupine gnaw- 
ings were common on the pinyon pines and also those along the 
Kimbetoh and Escavada Washes. Other gnawings were seen on the 
nut pines over the ridge about 20 miles south of Chaco Canyon and 
others on the Hasta Butte Mountains. A dead porcupine that had 
been recently shot was found by the side of the road about 20 miles 
south of Chaco Canyon out in the open cactus-covered plain. Its 
rounded dentate footprints and the marks where its tail had dragged 
in the dusty road showed where it had wandered for at least half a 
mile from the nearest timber out across the open valley before meeting 
the ranchman who avenged his grievance on its innocent head. This 
valley bridges one of the widest gaps between the nut pine ridges, 
which evidently carry the range of the species continuously over the 
western part of the State. 

In the San Juan Valley in 1908 Clarence Birdseye reported 
porcupines as occasionally seen along the river bottoms at Blanco, 
Farmington, Fruitland, Liberty, and Shiprock. At Blanco their 
characteristic pellets were abundant in holes in the sandstone cliffs 
on the north side of the river, and many of the pinyon pines along 
these cliffs had been more or less stripped of their bark. The 
porcupines frequently came down into the cultivated land along the 
river, and at Fruitland Birdseye saw the tracks of one that had come 
down the road during the night and walked through the dooryard 
without regard to the barking of the dogs. 

In the Chuska Mountains early in October, 1908, porcupines were 
common over the pine-covered plateau. Fresh tracks were frequently 
seen in the trails, and great quantities of pellets were found in the 
little caves and niches in the rim rock of the mesa tops. Gnawed 
trees were seen all through the woods but most abundant near cliffs or 
in the side canyons. Three of the animals were taken near the 
writer's camp in the southern part of the range. They were found 
in or near the cliffs, where some of the accumulated pellets appar- 
ently dated back for many years. On October 4, 1908, a half -grown 
young of the year, weighing 7 pounds, was caught in a trap at the 
entrance of its little cave in the rocks, and in another cave a male and 
female were found together and both secured for specimens. The 
female weighed 11 and the male 16 pounds, and apparently they were 
full grown. 

Food habits. — The most conspicuous food habits of these porcu- 
pines consist in stripping the bark from many species of pines, 
spruces, and firs for food; but this is mainly done in winter or 
during dry times when green food in scarce. During the summer 
they graze on a variety of green vegetation. In the San Mateo 
Mountains E. A. Goldman, in September, 1909, examined the stomach 



of one that was well filled with adorns of the little blue oak {Quercus 
gi^isea) , ground up shells and all, and a small quantity of vegetable 
fiber apparently from the bark of a tree. The stomach of one 
examined south of Chaco Canyon in Ocober contained green vegeta- 
tion, which appeared to be grass and other herbaceous plants. The 
stomachs of those collected in the Chuska Mountains in October 
contained in one case mainly bark of the yellow pine, but in the other 
two mainly green herbage. 

A tame female porcupine brought from southern New Mexico and 
kept in captivity preferred sweetpotatoes and apples to any other 
food but was fond of acorns and mesquite-bean pods and would eat 
such green vegetation as the base leaves of a large purple aster, the 
green branches of Ephedra, and the leaves and twigs of shadscale 
(Atriplex canescens) . The writer could obtain no conifers for her. 
Much to his surprise she refused salt in any form or combination, 
bacon or grease or any of the foods the animals are usually credited 
with liking. When allowed the great pleasure of an evening in the 
tent, she would inspect every object around the walls until the apple 
box or sweetpotato box was encountered, then dig and scratch and 
gnaw until an opening was made and one of the fragrant dainties 
obtained and eaten with evident relish. 

Economic status. — In October when green vegetation is still abun- 
dant pine bark is evidently eaten from choice and not necessity. 
Fortunately the bark is usually gnawed from the branches or near 
the top of the trunk where the outer shell is not so thick and hard as 
the top of yellow pines than from the lower trunk, where the bark 
is thick and hard. Consequently these pines are not so seriously 
injured. In an arid region where tree growth is slow, an abundance 
of porcupines would seriously retard the development of the forest, 
but fortunately these animals are not usually abundant and their 
actual damage is of only local occurrence. It is important, however, 
that their numbers be kept down to a reasonable abundance. 

They have few native enemies, but J. S. Ligon wrote from Socorro 
County in 1915 : 

It would seem impossible for any animal to kill and eat a porcupine, but I 
am told by ranchmen that the mountain lion does. Mr. Sam Hillyard tells me 
that while recently trailing a mountain lion in the deep snow he found where it 
had killed and eaten one. The porcupine had been torn open along the belly 
and the body eaten out of the skin. 

Ligon was also told of a bobcat found dead on Fox Mountain with 
its mouth, feet, and body full of porcupine quills. 

Family ZAPODIDAE: Jumping Mice 

Rocky Mountain Jumping Mouse 
Zapus pri.wcps Allen, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 5: 71, 1893. 

Type.— Collected at Florida, La Plata County, Colo., June 27, 1S92, by 
Charles P. Rowley. 

General clvaraeters. — The jumping mice are distinguished by very long tails, 
narrow ears, long hind feet, and grooved upper incisors. Zapus princeps is the 
largest and darkest colored of the three forms inhabiting New Mexico, The 

64909°— 32 15 



[No. 53 

whole back from nose to tail is blackish with a yellowish tinge, broadly bor- 
dered along the sides with pale yellowish ; the lower parts are pure white ; the 
ears blackish, with pale margins. 

Measurements. — A typical adult male measures : Total length, 239 ; tail, 144 ; 
hind foot, 32 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Specimens of the Rocky Mountain 
jumping mouse (pi. 10, B) from 8,800 feet altitude on the east slope 
of the Taos Mountains, from 8,200 in Hondo Canyon on the west 
slope of the Taos Mountains, from the San Juan Mountains near 
Tierra Amarilla, and from close to the New Mexico line west of 
Antonito, Colo., while giving only a few actual records for the State, 
would indicate a range throughout the Canadian Zone of the San 
Juan and Sangre de Cristo Mountains. These mark the southern 
limit of range of the species, which extends northward through the 

Rocky Mountains. (Fig. 

General habits. — The 
jumping mice are timid, 
gentle little animals, some- 
what like rabbits in dispo- 
sition. They depend upon 
their long legs and rapid 
flight for protection and 
even when caught in the 
hands rarely show an incli- 
nation to bite or defend 
themselves. Their long 
hind feet and the heavy 
muscles of back and legs are 
strongly contrasted with 
the small and delicate hands 
and light forward parts. 
In fact, their build is more 
kangaroo-like than that of 
the kangaroo rats. They 
usually live in grassy, 
weedy, or bushy places 
where there is abundant 
cover through which they can progress by long leaps. They are par- 
tial to dry meadows or the dry grassy borders of marshes and are 
rarely found in the woods. Being unable to climb, they live on or 
under the surface of the ground. They do not make roadways like 
many of the ground mice, but go skipping about from place to place, 
and since they leave few signs are difficult to catch. They are usually 
caught by accident in traps set for other animals. They are generally 
much more common than the few specimens collected would indicate 
but are rarely so common that their presence can be readily detected. 
In feeding they cut down the tall grass, beginning at the bottom 
and cutting the stem at intervals as high as they can reach until 
the seed part of the grass is brought down. This leaves little heaps 
of grass stems about 3 or 4 inches long, easily distinguished from 
the similar but shorter cuttings of the meadow mice, piled crisscross 

Figure 40. — Distribution' of jumping mice in New 
Mexico : 1, Zapus princcps princeps; 2, Z. 
luteus luteus; 3, Z. luteus australis. Type 
localities circled 


in the meadows. In many places farther north and in a few places 
in the mountains of New Mexico the writer has found these grass 
heaps on their feeding grounds. Where these cuttings are common 
in the meadows Zapus can usually be caught in considerable numbers 
by scattering traps baited with rolled oats in the open spaces under 
the miniature forest of grass stems. It is necessary, however, to use 
a large number of traps in order to secure a few of these mice. Some- 
times 40 or 50 traps will yield only two or three, while the same 
number of traps might yield a large number of other mice. 

Food habits. — Their food consists almost entirely of seeds and 
very largely of the seeds of grass and grasslike plants. Their food 
habits are not easily studied, however, as they have no external cheek 
pouches in which food may be found, and they evidently do not 
store seeds for winter use. Their stomach contents almost always 
show a perfectly clean white mass of dough from the carefully shelled 
and cleaned kernels of the small seeds eaten, and only the cut stems 
of the various grasses indicate which plants are preferred for food. 
In examining the stomach contents of a great number of specimens 
the writer has never been able to detect any other food than seeds or 
the rolled oats used for trap bait. 

Breeding habits. — Little is known of the breeding habits of this 
species except that the adults and sometimes the half-grown young 
are found during the summer living in grass nests on the surface 
of the ground under cover of grass or other vegetation. The nests 
are neat and well built. They are in the form of a ball consisting 
of soft grass fibers with one or sometimes two small openings at the 
sides to admit the occupants to the soft-lined chamber within. The 
mammae of the females are arranged in 3 or 4 pairs — 2 pairs of 
abdominal and 1 or 2 pairs of pectoral. The number of young is 
usually 4 to 6. 

Hibernation. — Unlike most mice the jumping mice hibernate long 
and securely. Before the cold weather begins they accumulate fat, 
most of which is deposited in a thick layer over the inside of the 
skin and furnishes ample food and fuel to carry them through five 
and possibly six months of inactivity. September 20 is the latest 
date at which any of the New Mexico specimens were taken, and 
these were very fat and probably ready to hibernate at the first cold 
wave. In fact, most of the individuals had evidently hibernated at 
that date, as no more were caught where their little piles of cut 
grass stems were abundant. There is little evidence as to the date 
of their emergence from hibernation, but at their altitude in the 
mountains the snow does not usually disappear until some time late 
in March, and as they enter hibernation after the first few frosts 
in autumn it is probable that they would not come out until freezing 
weather was practically over. Their winter nests are in burrows 
well underground, but little is known of their actual winter quarters. 

Economic status. — The Rocky Mountain jumping mice are usually 
not sufficiently numerous to be of any serious economic importance. 
With a host of other mice they are constantly taking their slight 
toll from the grass crop, and in the aggregate this sometimes 
amounts to a considerable loss. So long as their natural enemies, the 
hawks, owls, and weasels, remain normally abundant, they will not 


do any great harm, but if their natural enemies were destroyed they 
might become very destructive in the meadows. 

Yellow Jumping Mouse 
Zapus luteus Miller, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 24 : 253, 1911. 

Type. — Collected at Espanola, N. Mex., June 24, 1904, by McClure Surber. 

General characters. — A small slender species of the jumping mouse, with 
rich yellow sides and the dark band along the back from nose to tail less 
sharply defined and lighter tban in prwccps. 

Measurements. — The type measures : Total length, 224 ; tail, 138 ; hind foot, 
24 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The beautiful yellow jumping mouse is 
represented in the Bureau of Biological Survey collection by speci- 
mens from Espanola at 5,500 feet altitude, from Penasco Creek 12 
miles east of Cloudcroft in the Sacramento Mountains at 7,500 feet, 
and from the yellow-pine forest of the Sacramento Mountains at a 
point 10 miles northeast of Cloudcroft at 8,500 feet. (Fig. 40.) 
This seems to indicate a range covering both the Transition and the 
Upper Sonoran Zones, but the localities are too few for satisfactory 
determination of their zone limits. At Espanola, the type locality, 
McClure Surber collected four specimens in June, 1904, but gives no 
further notes than that they were collected in a large patch of 
weeds. His work at that locality was mainly along the bottom of 
the river valley, and evidently the specimens were taken at that 
level in the middle of the Upper Sonoran Zone. Those taken in the 
Sacramento Mountains were in grassy parks within the limits of 
the Transition Zone. 

General habits. — Nothing is known of the habits of this species 
other than from the few specimens taken, but it apparently occupies 
the same kind of ground and has largely the same habits as the 
other forms of the group. 

Pale Jumping Mouse 
Zapus luteus australis Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 26 : 132, 1913. 

Type. — Collected at Socorro, N. Mex., August 23, 1909, by E. A. Goldman. 

General characters. — This small pallid form of the jumping mouse is well 
marked by its pale colors and very narrow slender skull. The sides are pale 
buffy yellow and the dorsal area is but slightly darker and not sharply defined. 
As usual the lower parts are pure white. 

Measurements. — The type, an adult female, measures: Total length, 205; tail, 
124; hind foot, 29.5 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The type and only known specimen of 
the pale jumping mouse was collected by E. A. Goldman near Socorro 
in the Rio Grande Vallej^ near the river. (Fig. 40.) It was taken 
in a trap set for cotton rats in a thicket of Baccharis, small willows, 
and grass on moist ground that is often overflowed from the river 
floods. The specimen, taken August 23, was a nursing female and 
shows such marked characters that it is impossible to place it with 
any other known species. Its closest affinities are evidently with 
luteus, of which an isolated colony ma}' have been stranded in this 




Lower Sonoran locality for so long a time as to develop marked 
characters. It is certainly the only species of jumping mouse known 
to inhabit the Lower Sonoran Zone and might well be expected to 
differ from its relatives of the Boreal zones. 

Family GEOMYIDAE: Pocket Gophers 

Colorado Pocket Gopher; Pah-na of the Taos Indians 
Thomomys fossor Allen, Bui. Anier. Mus. Nat. Hist. 5 : 51, 1S93. 

Type. — Collected at Florida, La Plata County, Colo., June 25, 1S92, by Charles 
P. Rowley. 

General characters. — Small, dark-brown pocket gophers of the higher moun- 
tain ranges. Like all their family, they are sturdy, compact, little animals 
entirely adapted to underground 
life and burrowing habits. The 
eyes are very small, the ears 
short and almost concealed by 
the fur, the tail short and use- 
ful mainly as an organ of 
touch in guiding the animals 
backward through their bur- 
rows. The front legs are 
heavily muscled and the claws 
of the front feet long and well 
curved for digging. The ample 
fur-lined cheek pouches are 
used for carrying food. 

Measurements. — Adult males 
measure, in total length, about 
220; tail, 64; hind foot, 32 

Distribution and habi- 
tat. — Of the nine species of 
the genus of pocket go- 
phers (pi. 13) occurring in 
New Mexico, fossor is the 
most northern and has the 

Figure 41. — Distribution of pocket gophers of the 
genus Thomotys in New Mexico : 1, Thomomys 
fossor fossor; 2, T. perpallidus aureus; 3, T. 
perpallidus apache; 4. T. fulvus fulvus; 5. T. 
fulvus toltecus; 6, T. fulvus intermedins ; 7, 
T. meamsi; 8. T. lachuguilla ; 9. T. oaileyi. Type 
localities circled 

highest range in the moun- 
tains, occupying the Cana- 
dian and the Hudsonian 
Zones and extending into 
the Arctic-Alpine Zone in 
favorable situations on the higher peaks. (Fig. 41.) In the Taos 
Mountains these pocket gophers were abundant throughout the spruce 
and fir forests from 8,300 feet in Hondo Canyon to above timber line 
on the well-soiled slopes. A few of their old hills were seen on the 
very top of Wheelers Peak at 13,600 feet altitude, the highest point 
in New Mexico. The upper slopes of these mountains were in many 
places simply plowed over by the burrows of the pocket gophers, and 
the green turf was dotted with fresh black mounds of earth. Speci- 
mens caught above timber line in August had very long fur partly 
carried over from the previous winter coat. In the Culebra Moun- 
tains a little farther north they were equally abundant throughout 


the Canadian Zone and upward to the top of Culebra Peak at 13,500 
feet, and farther south in the Pecos River Mountains throughout the 
same zones extending to the top of Pecos Baldy at 12,000 feet and as 
far up on the Truchas Peaks as the mellow soil extended, or to about 
12,200 feet. In no part of this Sangre de Cristo Range were they 
found below the extreme lower limits of the Canadian Zone. In the 
San Juan and Jemez Mountains the pocket gophers are equally abun- 
dant throughout Canadian Zone and in cold meadows down to what 
seems to be the edge of the Transition Zone at 7,800 feet, but what is 
really the Canadian for temperature and species. Specimens of fossor 
were also taken on the Canadian Zone caps of Mount Taylor and the 
central part of the Chuska Range. The species is quite distinct from 
any of those occupying the adjoining lower country, and in many 
places there seems to be a narrow border line between their range 
and that of the next lower species, in which no pocket gophers occur. 

General habits. — The Colorado pocket gophers avoid hard or clay 
soils, but collect in great numbers in the mellow, rich, mountain loam 
of the parks, meadows, and openings generally, and also occupy the 
open forests where there is sufficient vegetation for food. They are 
rarely found in the dense growth of conifers, although to some extent 
they are distributed through the aspen groves. In the parks and 
meadows their burrows seem to honeycomb the ground, the mounds 
dotting the surface so thickly that toward the close of summer they 
often cover from a tenth to a fifth of the surface. As fresh hills are 
thrown up the old ones are gradually sinking and disappearing be- 
neath the rich carpet of vegetation. In this way the ground is con- 
stantly being plowed and the vegetation buried beneath the surface, 
which in many places greatly increases the fertility of the mountain 
slopes. The network of burrows underneath the surface also serves 
to hold and carry the water into the soil and store it for use. While 
the pocket gophers uproot, cover, or eat a great deal of the mountain 
vegetation, it all returns to the soil with, a distinct gain in fertility. 

In these high, cold, mountain regions the pocket gophers are 
largely diurnal in habits. A line of traps often remains untouched 
overnight, but as the sun begins to warm the ground about 8 or 9 a. 
m. the pocket gophers begin to spring the traps. As the ground often 
freezes slightly at night during the summer, it seems probable that 
the animals take advantage of the cold hours to enjoy their com- 
fortable nests in the burrows and of the warmer hours of the day 
for their excavations and the collection of food. When the burrows 
are first opened more or less of the green vegetation about the door- 
way is collected for food, but after the earth is thrown out, the bur- 
rows are usually closed promptly. 

Food habits. — A large part of the food of these miners consists of 
underground bulbs, tubers, and edible roots encountered as the bur- 
rows are extended. Little wild onions, camas, and lily bulbs are fa- 
vorite foods. So many onions are eaten that the flesh of the pocket 
gophers often smells of them. Apparently most of the tender roots 
encountered contribute to their food. Of green vegetation they seem 
especially fond of the leaves and stems of the little clovers and 
vetches that abound in their mountain meadows, but a great variety 
of plants are eaten, including the many species of grass and sedges. 
Leaves, stems, roots, and bulbs are all tucked into their pouches as 


gathered and carried back into the burrows to be eaten at leisure or 
stored for future use. Frequently the specimens caught in traps are 
found with their pouches filled with leaves and stems cut by the sharp 
chisel teeth into convenient lengths. The finely masticated contents 
of the stomach and intestines gives little clue to the species of food 
plants, except as it has occasionally the strong odor of onions or some 
peculiarly scented plant. 

The pocket gophers do not become fat and are evidently active all 
winter under the cover of deep snows, although probably less active 
during the very cold weather. They may depend in part on their 
summer stores but also get the roots and vegetation along the lines of 
their tunnels. They make long burrows under the snow and later 
pack them full of earth from deeper down, leaving snakelike casts 
of earth to mark their winter work. These extensive earth plugs re- 
main after the snow is melted away and well into the summer to show 
the amount of work carried on during the winter. 

Breeding habits. — In Thoniomys fossor the mammae are arranged 
in 4 pairs — 2 pairs of inguinal and 2 of pectoral. The young are 
probably about 4 in number and born sometime in May or June, as 
with other closely related species of the same group. There seem to 
be no actual dates, however, for this part of the country, even of 
embryos taken from specimens collected, but the nearly half-grown 
young are caught in July about the time they begin to move about 
and make burrows for themselves. There is evidently but one litter 
raised in a year, so that the increase is not more rapid than the normal 
decrease in numbers. 

Enemies. — A host of enemies are constantly on the watch for these 
little animals as they are apparently a favorite food with hawks, 
owls, weasels, foxes, bobcats, badgers, and even bears. Weasels enter 
the burrows and capture the occupants without trouble if they can 
succeed in getting into the securely closed doorways. This is usually 
accomplished by hunting through the pocket-gopher meadows until 
a doorway is found through which the animal is throwing out earth, 
when there is no escape for him. Foxes and bobcats also pounce 
upon them when they are throwing out earth, and hawks and owls 
pick them up when they appear above ground. Badgers dig for 
them, but probably with little success, as it might take several days 
to dig out the total length of one burrow and make sure of the 
occupant. The rough holes where bears have dug for them are 
occasionally seen, but it is doubtful if they often meet with success 
or if the game is worth the candle. 

Economic status. — This species of pocket gopher is perhaps of 
the least economic importance of any in the State, as it lives entirely 
above the zones of agriculture and as its work is mainly beneficial 
rather than injurious to man's interests. 

For a recent account of the habits and economic status of the 
pocket gophers, see Scheffer (1931). 

Fulvous Pocket Gopher 
Geomys fulvus Woodhouse, Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. Proc. 6: 201, 1S52. 

Type. — Collected at San Francisco Mountain, Ariz., October, 1851, by S. W. 


General characters. — Medium-sized pocket gophers, dark, rich, rusty brown 
in color, corresponding well with the color of the lava soil on which they are 
commonly found. In fact, the whole distribution of the species corresponds 
closely with the area of old lava flows in New Mexico and Arizona. 

Measurements. — The males average in total length, 219; tail, 70; hind foot, 
30 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The widest range of the fulvous pocket 
gopher (pi. 13, B) is in the plateau country of Arizona, but it 
extends into western New Mexico throughout the Mogollon and Zuni 
Mountain region west of the Rio Grande and over the Sacramento, 
San Andres, and Manzano Mountains and northward along the 
eastern base of the Sangre de Cristos and into the Ratons. (Fig. 41.) 
The range lies mainly in the Transition Zone, but in the higher 
mountains not occupied by others this species extends into and in 
some cases practically through the width of the Canadian Zone. 
This is in such limited areas, however, that the range may be con- 
sidered as mainly Transition. The pocket gophers are especially 
abundant throughout the open yellow pine forests where the grassy 
parks and openings are thoroughly plowed and worked over by their 
numerous burrows and mounds. They are partial to mellow, rich 
soil and the vicinity of moist and fertile valleys, but are often found 
on stony mesas where the soil is so scarce that a burrow sometimes 
has to be abandoned and a new one started on better ground. 

General habits. — Like other species of the genus, the fulvous pocket 
gophers are great burrowers and spend almost their entire lives 
underground. They are industrious workers, as shown by the numer- 
ous mounds of earth thrown up at frequent intervals along the line 
of their underground tunnels. Their industry, however, seems to 
depend on the abundance of food, and in places where large edible 
roots are to be found the burrowing is less extensive and the mounds 
less numerous than in areas where vegetation is not so abundant 
and where it is necessary to cover more ground to obtain their food 
supply. Around some favorite plants a cluster of small mounds will 
remain for many days, while in other places a line of mounds will be 
extended at the rate of three or four a day, and at intervals of 6 
to 10 or possibly 15 feet apart. At this rate the pocket gophers 
travel from place to place, always exploring for food and rarely 
leaving a place where it is found in abundance. During warm 
weather they seem to be active both night and day, as the morning 
will sometimes show a number of fresh mounds thrown up overnight, 
and at any time of day one may encounter a fresh mound that is 
being built up, the burrow being still open, the pocket gopher 
having been frightened away by approaching footsteps. On rare 
occasions one may approach so cautiously as not to disturb the 
worker and be able to watch its operations as each load of fresh, 
dark earth is pushed to the entrance of the burrow and given a final 
quick shove that sends it over the bank. Sometimes it will come 
entirely out of the burrow or a little more to push the load of dirt 
well out of the way of the next load, but more often only its head 
and shoulders appear for a twinkling as it throws out the dirt and 
dodges back out of sight of its numerous enemies. 

At Cloudcroft, in the Sacramento Mountains, the writer succeeded 
in taking a dozen snapshots while one was making its mound by the 
side of his tent. During the 15 or 20 minutes between the opening of 


its burrow at the surface and the closing of its doorway after the 
mound was built up, when its pockets were stuffed with food from 
the growing vegetation, it did not get more than its full length, 
including tail, from the entrance of its burrow. Before throwing 
out any of the earth it gathered the stems and leaves of as many 
plants adjoining the burrow as it could stuff into its pockets. Then 
it would disappear for half a minute and reappear with a load of 
earth, which in the first instance was pushed well out, later loads 
being left nearer the opening until finally a few loads were pushed 
into it and left there to barricade the entrance. There was no 
scratching or kicking of the earth, but the pocket gopher brought out 
each load under its chin half-encircled by its arms while it wheel- 
barrowed itself along by pushing with its hind feet. Its motions 
were so quick that the dirt would often actually be thrown from 
it, and its retreat was so rapid that only a snapshot could register 
the animal distinctly. The pictures unfortunately were so small 
as to be of little interest and some were blurred by the swiftness 
of its motions. It was a rare occasion, however, for most people 
who live in pocket-gopher country have never seen the animal alive 
unless when one has been forced out of its burrow by irrigation 
water, at which time the wet and muddy pocket gopher is a most 
unattractive animal compared with the clean, smooth-furred, little 
miner seen in its normal dress. 

Food habits. — As with all pocket gophers, the food is determined 
by the species of plants that are available in their habitat. Almost 
all bulbs and tender roots are eaten, but certain kinds prove more 
acceptable than others. The little wild onions and the bulbs of 
numerous lilies seem to be favorite food, but the big, fleshy root 
of a thistle or burdock or some of the perennial sunflowers, and even 
the poison parsnip, are all eagerly eaten. Leguminous plants seem 
to be favorites, both root and top, and one is often followed to the 
surface and the whole plant devoured or carried away. Cultivated 
plants, including potatoes, and all root crops, as well as all kinds 
of clover and alfalfa, are evidently preferred to the native food, as 
the pocket gophers seem to gravitate toward them and rarely leave 
them for outside forage. To some extent they store up food for 
future use, but as they are active throughout the winter they do not 
provide a complete winter store. 

Breeding habits. — Like all the species of the genus occurring in 
New Mexico, these pocket gophers have the mammae arranged in 4 
pairs — 2 pairs of inguinal ancl 2 of pectoral. The writer has but one 
record of the number of young in a litter for the State: A female 
taken on May 12, 1906, on the head of the Mimbres Kiver contained 
6 embryos. This is probably about the maximum for the species, 
as other species with the same number and arrangement of mammae 
usually have from 4 to 6 young. Evidently but 1 litter is 
raised in a season, as the half-grown young began to get into the 
writer's traps in June and July, and no small ones were caught late 
in the season. Practically nothing is known of the breeding habits of 
the animals, however, as their life is mainly underground. By the 
first cold weather in October the young are nearly full grown and are 
each living in separate burrows. 


Economic status. — As the greater part of the range of this species 
covers valleys or open grazing country, there is little damage that 
they can do. In the lower part of their range, however, they come in 
conflict with many small ranches and gardens, where they cause great 
annoyance and considerable loss by destruction of crops. Wherever 
opportunity offers they quickly find a potato patch or garden, and if 
left alone a few of them will almost destroy either. They also do 
considerable damage in grainfields by cutting the growing grain or 
covering it with their mounds. In gardens and small fields a few 
traps or a little poison administered in pieces of potato will soon 
eliminate the pocket gophers where, if left to themselves, they would 
do serious harm. When it is necessary to destroy them from larger 
areas more systematic methods must be used. Advice in this respect 
may be obtained from Bureau of Biological Survey. 

Espanola Pocket Gopher 

Thomomys aureus pervagus Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 14 : 110, 1901. 

Type. — Collected at Espanola, N. Mex., January 4, 1894, by J. Alden Loring. 

General characters. — A rather large species averaging somewhat larger than 
fulvus. In color it is bright, rusty brown all over, but slightly paler below. 

Measurements. — Adult males measure : Total length, about 239 ; tail, 73 ; hind 
foot, 32-33 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Espanola pocket gopher is found 
throughout the upper Rio Grande Valley from Santa Fe north to 
the southern part of the San Luis Valley in Colorado, mainly in the 
Upper Sonoran Zone. There are specimens from near Santa Fe, from 
Espanola, Chama River, Abiquiu, Rinconada, Hondo River near its 
junction with the Rio Grande, Questa, and from Antonito just over 
the Colorado line. It is an abundant species over the valley bottoms 
and along the valleys of the side streams that cut through the 
numerous lava fields into the Rio Grande. The soil in this part of 
the valley is generally a mixture of lava and sand, as the Rio Grande 
cuts through a long lava canyon above Rinconada, and the many side 
streams bring in their contributions from sandstone cliffs and many 
varieties of soil and rock. In places the valley where these pocket 
gophers occur has a surface of deep loose sand, but more generally it 
is firm and rather dark brown soil, which seems to bear a close rela- 
tion to the color of the pocket gophers. The species is not very 
widely distributed and apparently is but a local valley form of 
fulvus, which reaches in almost typical form to Glorieta only a short 
distance from Santa Fe, where pervagus has been taken. In habits 
pervagus is more like aureus from the fact that it occupies the same 
type of valley country, and it is not improbable that intergradation 
may some time be traced from fulvus through it to aureus. For the 
present, however, there are no specimens showing direct connection. 

Food habits. — In the Santa Clara Canyon just west of Espanola 
they were common along the bottom of the narrow wide valley 
extending up to the edge of the yellow-pine forest. Many of these 
little flats have been cultivated for ages by the cliff dwellers and 
Pueblo Indians and support an abundant growth of small wild pota- 


toes (Solarium tuberosum) , of which the pocket gophers seem very- 
fond. They were constantly digging among these plants, and a num- 
ber of the tubers were found in their pockets. The little tender roots 
that bear the tubers as well as the potato tops were found cut off at 
the entrance of the burrows. Other plants, including a little 
Chenopodium and a juicy Senecio were also found in their pockets. 

Economic status. — Much of the valley land occupied by pervagus 
is good agricultural and fruit land, so that the presence of these 
pocket gophers is highly detrimental both in destroying crops and 
injuring irrigation ditches. At Espanola and along the Hondo 
River they were abundant in the alfalfa fields, where an attempt was 
made to flood their burrows and force them out. As no other method 
was used to destroy them, there seemed to be little check on their 


Toltec Pocket Gopher 

Thomomys tolteeus Allen, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 5 : 52, 1893. 

Type. — Collected at Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, autumn of 1890 by 
A. D. Meed on the Lumholtz Expedition. 

General characters. — A large, pale-colored form of the fulvus group. It is 
slightly larger than fulvus. 

Measurements. — An adult male measures : Total length, about 221 ; tail, 72 ; 
hind foot, 31.5 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Toltec pocket gopher occupies the 
valley country of southwestern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona 
and northern Chihuahua, mainly in the Lower Sonoran Zone. (Fig. 
41.) Specimens from the Upper Sonoran Zone are generally more 
or less intermediate between fulvus and tolteeus. Considerable vari- 
ation is shown over a rather wide range, but in its typical form the 
species agrees very well in color with the dull-clay or sandy desert 
valleys that it occupies. Locally these pocket gophers are abundant 
in the more fertile spots where vegetation is sufficient to furnish an 
adequate food supply. They are absent, however, over wide spaces of 
barren mesa where plant life is poor and scattered. 

General' habits. — In the sandy mellow soil where these pocket 
gophers are generally most abundant their mounds and burrows are 
large and numerous. If vegetation is scarce they dig farther and 
faster and so seem always able to maintain an adequate supply of 
food. As with all mammals, and in fact all other forms of life, desert 
conditions require special adaptations and modify both tastes and 
habits. As many of the plants grow largely underground with 
extensive root systems, the pocket gophers must find those that are 
acceptable as food and adapt themselves to their manner of growth. 
The barren surface and scorching heat of the summer months also 
call for special adaptations, but the pocket gophers in their subter- 
ranean galleries have many advantages over other mammals with less 
protected homes. They are to a great extent nocturnal, though 
usually active during the cooler morning and evening hours. Water 
in a free state seems unnecessary, and the desert has little terror for 


Nothing specific is known of the breeding habits of this species 
except that the mammae are arranged in four pairs, and evidently 
but one litter of young is usually raised in a season. 

Food habits. — Little is known of the actual species of food plants 
selected by these pocket gophers, except that they often collect around 
patches of cactus and feed upon the stems and fleshy pads where they 
come in contact with the ground and can be reached from the burrow 
entrance. Often a number of pocket-gopher mounds are thrown up 
in and around a patch of pricklypear and sometimes the inside is 
hollowed out of some large fleshy cactus. Koots of various kinds 
seem to furnish most of their food, and it is probable that an abun- 
dance of moisture is found in them. 

Economic status. — Though the pocket gophers are but moderately 
prolific, their enemies are numerous in the desert as elsewhere, and 
they are constantly preyed upon by coyotes, foxes, bobcats, badgers, 
and numerous hawks and owls. Their numbers are thus kept down 
to a harmless stage in the open country, but where they are given 
special protection and can work under the cover of ample vegetation 
or in fields of grain and alfalfa they increase more rapidly than in 
the open. In their constant search for better and more abundant 
food they also tend to collect in cultivated or protected grounds where 
they often do serious damage to farm products. They fairly revel 
in alfalfa fields, where their large mounds cover many of the growing 
plants while they feed on both the roots and tops. A large number 
of pocket gophers in an alfalfa field seriously reduce the yield, their 
mounds make it necessary to cut the crop at a higher level than 
would otherwise be necessary, and the stones and gravel in the 
mounds dull and break the knives of the mowing machines. 

At Garfield and Cuchillo E. A. Goldman found them very abun- 
dant and destructive in the alfalfa fields. He says : 

At Cuchillo, owing to the uneven surface of the ground, the checks are 
usually small and little land can be flooded at a time. The gophers are 
therefore able to escape to the check borders and when the water has soaked 
away are ready to resume active operations in the alfalfa. In several of the 
fields belonging to W. W. Martin considerable alfalfa had been killed by the 
gophers. A slight pull on the dried tops sufficed to draw the plants out of the 
ground and show that the roots had been eaten. Some alfalfa tops were also 
bitten off at the surface of the ground within reach of the holes that had been 
temporarily opened and the tops were drawn into the holes and eaten. As 
alfalfa hay is worth $25 per ton at Cuchillo, the injury to the crop is a serious 
matter. Mr. Martin also complained of breaks in ditch banks through the 
gopher burrows. At Garfield there were also complaints of the breaking of 
large ditch banks by the water escaping through gopher burrows. 

At Redrock, Goldman also reported many complaints of damage by 
the pocket gophers, both in destroyed crops and in the weakening of 
levees and ditch banks by their burrows. In grainfields they cause 
some trouble and loss, but they seem less attracted to fields of grain 
than to alfalfa. In vegetable gardens they always create great havoc, 
and in orchards and nurseries their mischief is perhaps the most 
serious of all. The roots are cut from the small trees in rapid 
sequence and even old, bearing fruit trees are often seriously injured 
or killed by having their roots destroyed. In many cases this loss 
could be avoided by simple methods of trapping or other control 


Intermediate Pocket Gopher 
Thomomys fulvus intermedins Mearns, U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. 19:719, 1897. 

Type. — Collected at summit of Huachuca Mountains, Ariz., September 6, 
1898, by E. A. Mearns and F. X. Holzner. 

General characters. — A small southern mountain form of the group, consid- 
erably smaller and slightly darker than fulvus, with a distinctly blackish 
dorsal line in typical specimens. 

Measurements. — Adult males measure: Total length, about 200; tail, 66; 
hind foot, 26 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — These pocket gophers have a scattered 
distribution on the tops of numerous mountain ranges in southeast- 
ern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. (Fig. 41.) A few 
specimens from the higher slopes of the Animas Mountains consti- 
tute the only New Mexico records. They were taken in the Tran- 
sition Zone from near the base to the summit of the Animas Peaks, 
or from about 5,800 to 8,000 feet. They occupy the more open slopes 
and timbered tops of the ridges, but are not found to any extent in 
the dense chaparral covering a large part of the range. Nothing 
was learned of their habits to show whether they differed in any way 
from other species. In their practically uninhabited area they 
seem to be of no economic importance. 


Mearns's Pocket Gopher 
Thomomys mearnsi Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 27 : 117, 1914. 

. Type.— Collected at the Gray ranch, in Animas Valley, southwestern New 
Mexico, August 10, 1898, by E. A. Goldman. 

General characters. — Externally this species closely resembles fulvus to which 
it is perhaps nearest related. It is slightly smaller and lighter colored and is 
especially characterized by its slender projecting incisors. 

Measurements. — The type, an adult male, measures: Total length, 220; tail, 
67; hind foot, 31 millimeters. 

Distribution and hahitat. — A few specimens of the very peculiar 
Mearns's pocket gophers were collected in the moist soil along the 
edges of a large marsh in the bottom of the Animas Valley at the 
Gray ranch. (Fig. 41.) They are so decidedly different from 
those collected in the dry parts of the valley or in the adjoining 
mountain ranges that it seems necessary to recognize them as dis- 
tinct from either. The extent of their range is entirely unknown, 
but it is not improbable that they follow down the Animas and 
possibly through the San Simon Valley into Arizona. The strongly 
alkaline soil of this valley bottom may have some bearing on the 
modifications of the animals through a long period of time, but it 
seems more probable that the hard and clayey character of the soil 
when dry, making it necessary for the pocket gophers to use their 
incisors in extending their tunnels, has played a large part in the 
modification of the teeth and cranium. The actual distribution and 
habits of the species remain to be worked out. 


Sierra Blanca Pocket Gopher 
Thomomys bailey i Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 14 : 109, 1901. 

Type. — Collected at Sierra Blanca, Tex., December 28, 1889, by Vernon 

General characters. — In external appearance not very different from lachuguil- 
la, but the skull indicates an animal of a very different type, with a short, 
wide cranium and very protruding incisors. 

Measurements. — An adult male measures: Total length, 215: tail, 64; hind 
foot, 31 millimeters. Average of five females: 212; 69; 29 millimeters, 

Distribution and habit. — The species baileyi is known from only 
two localities, by a series of specimens collected at Sierra Blanca, 
Tex., in 1889; and another series collected near Tularosa, N. Mex., in 
1902. (Fig. 41.) It is apparently an Upper Sonoran form occupy- 
ing the open mesa country about Sierra Blanca and extending up the 
western foothills of the Sacramento Range along the eastern border 
of the Great Tularosa Valley. 

General habits. — At Sierra Blanca these pocket gophers were 
abundant but harmless, as no agriculture was possible in that region, 
but at Tularosa, Gaut reported them as very abundant along the foot- 
hills of the Sacramento Mountains east of town and in the alfalfa 
fields on the different ranches about Tularosa where they did serious 
damage to the alfalfa and to the irrigation ditches. He says : 

One rancher tells me that his alfalfa crop is about half as large as it should 
have been this season, owing to the fact that the gophers prevented him from 
irrigating it sufficiently. They have made underground tunnels that carried 
the water off in streams and wasted what was needed for the crop. 

These few notes show practically all that is known of this species. 

Lechtjgutlla Pocket Gopher 

Thomomys aureus laehuguilla Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 15 : 120, 1902. 

Type. — Collected at El Paso, Tex., September 24, 1901, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — This little, pale, buffy -yellow gopher, which was 
described from specimens collected at El Paso, Tex., as a subspecies of aureus, 
apparently is not closely connected with either the aureus or fulvus groups, and 
until more is known of its range and characters its affinities will remain in 
doubt, and it had better stand alone. 

Measurements. — Adult males measure: Total length, about 202; tail, 61; 
hind foot, 27 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The little desert Lechuguilla pocket 
gophers are common in the gulches of the lower foothills of the 
Franklin and Organ Mountains. (Fig. 41.) They have a more 
extensive range farther down the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, but 
reach their northern limit, so far as known at the present time, along 
the foothill slopes of the Organ Mountains in New Mexico. Gaut 
collected specimens near the Cox ranch on the east side of the 
mountains, and some small pocket-gopher hills that the writer saw on 
the west side of the range were probably made by this species. Some 
pocket gophers seem to be abundant over the higher slopes of the 
Organ Mountains, but as no specimens have been collected, it is 


very doubtful whether they are this species or the larger, darker 
colored fulvus, which occupies the San Andres Mountains farther 

General habits. — These are typical desert pocket gophers, occu- 
pying the mellowest spots they can find on arid mesas and in sandy 
gulches over the hot Lower Sonoran Zone. They have a very inter- 
rupted range. One may travel for miles over barren mesas where no 
trace of their mounds is seen, and then find a few in a sandy gulch 
where a little moisture collects and plants can live. In color as well 
as food habits they are thoroughly adapted to their desert environ- 
ment and probably lead as comfortable lives as other species in richer 
surroundings. In the region about El Paso and farther south they 
feed quite extensively on the tender and starchy heart of the lechu- 
guilla (Agave lecheguilla) . This plant is so protected by hooks and 
spines from other animals that it grows in abundance in many parts 
of the desert but is readily attacked by the pocket gophers from 
underground and its whole inside store of plant food is eaten out. 
Many species of cactus are also used for food. The large devil's-head 
cactus is burrowed into from beneath and the inside is eaten out, 
while the green pads and stems of pricklypear are eaten aboveground. 
Apparently yuccas and many other desert plants are also eaten by 
these pocket gophers, but in reality very little is known of their 
habits. As they rarely live where there are ranches or settlements, 
there are no complaints against them. 


Golden Pocket Gopher ; Nazxtza of the Navajo Indians 
Thomomys aureus Allen, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 5 : 49, 1893. 

Type.— Collected at Bluff, Utah, May 12, 1892, by Charles P. Rowley. 

General characters. — One of the largest pocket gophers occurring in New 
Mexico, with upper parts normally of a beautiful golden-buff color and under- 
pays pale buff or whitish. 

Measurements. — The males measure : Total length, about 240 ; tail, 73 ; hind 
foot, 31 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The golden pocket gophers are valley 
dwellers, partial to mellow sandy soil and to some extent associated 
with the region of bright-red and yellow sandstone cliffs occupying 
so much of northwestern New Mexico (fig. 41), northeastern Arizona 
and southern Utah. As with other species, the color of the soil in 
which they live is to a great extent imitated in their pelage. In New 
Mexico they occupy the Great San Juan Valley and the Kio Grande 
Valley from Socorro to Bernalillo. These areas are probably con- 
nected through the valleys of the Puerco and San Jose with the San 
Juan and Zuni River Valleys. In New Mexico and throughout the 
range of the typical form it is a purely Upper Sonoran species. Two 
specimens collected on the Chama River near the little village of 
Gallina and another near El Vado seem to be referable to aureus 
rather than to any other of the surrounding forms, although these 
localities are apparently cut off from the main range of the species. 
Their characteristic large holes were also seen in the Quemado Valley 
south of the Zuni Mountains, and specimens were taken though not 
saved. It is not improbable that they have a continuous range from 


the San Augustine Plain through the narrow gap between the east 
and west Datil Ranges to the Zuni River Valley. They are most 
abundant in the mellowest, and most fertile valleys, but their big, 
sandy mounds are often seen through the dry parts of the valleys and 
in sandy washes, even where vegetation is scant and poor. 

General habits. — In no radical way do the habits of these pocket 
gophers differ from those of others of the genus. In the mellow 
soil of their habitat their burrows are large, and the mounds of 
loose sand thrown out often contain a bushel, or, in some cases, 
several bushels of material. Digging is easy and rapid, and they 
cover more ground with their burrows and mounds than any species 
of equal size on less mellow soils. On poor soil the burrows are 
extended in direct lines until more fertile areas are encountered, 
when they congregate and remain as long as food is abundant. In 
some cases where food is scarce, it is possible that they even leave 
their burrows and travel overland until more favorable locations are 
found, but there is little evidence to show that any of them ever 
leave the burrows, except males in search of mates during the mating 
season. Two pocket gophers are seldom caught in one burrow, but 
occasionally this happens during the early spring. If they were in 
the habit of moving about at any distance from their burrows, their 
peculiar tracks would certainly show in the very mellow sand where 
they live. During years of trapping and observation of their habits, 
the writer has never detected their tracks at more than a foot from 
the freshly opened burrows. They seem to be about equally active 
during the day and night, but during the daytime are most active 
in the morning and evening hours, and it is very probable that their 
nocturnal activity is also mainly near evening and morning. 

In trapping for them along the Rio Grande, Loring in 1894 re- 
ported them as especially abundant at Bernalillo, Albuquerque, 
Belen, Socorro, and Marcial. They were abundant over the valleys, 
but seemed partial to the railroad bank, where he said they would 
throw up their mounds at distances of about 20 feet apart, or again 
in groups, close together. In removing the earth from their burrows 
in some, one might find the hole near the surface and in others 
be compelled to dig from 1 to 2 feet before finding the open burrow. 
When caught, several specimens had small pieces of roots in their 
cheek pouches. On being released from the traps, he says, they 
would fight like little bulldogs. At Socorro, E. A. Goldman found 
them especially abundant in alfalfa fields on the river flats, where 
they were doing considerable damage to the alfalfa and other crops, 
and there were some complaints of their burrowing into ditch banks. 

Food habits. — As in other species, the food of the golden pocket 
gopher includes a great variety of vegetation, both roots and tops 
of such wild and domestic plants as they encounter. Evidently the 
greater part of their food comes from underground vegetation, but 
the material in the alimentary canals the writer has found decidedly 
green. In some cases, however, the stomach is filled entirely with 
the white pulp of roots and underground vegetation. At the base 
of the Bear Spring Mountains and on the San Augustine Plains, 
Hollister, while collecting series of specimens, reported numerous 
cuttings of roots and grass and wheat stems found in digging out the 
burrows. These were evidently food caches put away for future, 


if not for winter, use, as they were found late in September and 
early in October. 

Economic status. — This species of pocket gopher is peculiarly 
destructive to farm crops, not only from its large size, but from its 
abundance in some of the most fertile agricultural valleys of the 
State, and in a region where irrigation ditches are depended upon 
for practically all the agriculture. The pocket gophers congregate 
in fields, gardens, and orchards but are especially partial to alfalfa 
fields where they do considerable damage. In the San Juan Valley 
in October of 1908 they were abundant over most of the farms and 
orchards of the valley. At Fruitland, Clarence Birdseye was told 
by L. C. Burnham, who had lived there for some years, that in one 
day he had driven out and killed 130 pocket gophers by turning the 
water from the irrigation ditches into their burrows. Mr. Collier at 
Fruitland also said that many of his fruit trees leaned in one direc- 
tion or another, because the pocket gophers had cut off part of the 
roots. In spite of irrigation the animals were still common in his 
orchards and fields and no effort was being made to destroy them. 
There were also many complaints of their injury to ditches in this 
rich farming and fruit valley. Near the pueblo of Zuni when the 
writer was camping there in September, 1908, a large Government 
irrigation ditch had been recently completed. The banks of the 
ditch had been finished for some time, but the water had not yet 
been turned in, and at frequent intervals pocket gophers as well as 
other rodents had taken up their residence in the banks of the ditch 
and were throwing out mounds of earth on both sides, showing that 
their burrows must penetrate back and forth from the inner to the 
outer surface. As the ditch followed for miles along the side of the 
valley the ground on the lower side was below the water level of the 
ditch, so that as soon as the water was turned in and found its way 
to the pocket-gopher burrows there would be numerous breaks in the 
bank. This is the inevitable history of sidehill ditches in a pocket- 
gopher country, as long as the animals are allowed to remain within 
reach of them. In small local ditches the pocket gophers also fill a 
great part of the ditch by throwing their earth out of the banks 
along its sides and when the ditches are dry by throwing up their 
mounds along the bottom as well as sides. It is especially important 
to be able to control their abundance on irrigated farms. The 
Bureau of Biological Survey is always ready to give directions for 
controlling pocket gophers in special cases that are not easily 


Apache Pocket Gopher 
Thomomys apache Bailey, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 23 : 79, 1910. 

Type. — Collected at Lake La Jara, on the Jicarilla Apache Indian Reserva- 
tion, N. Mex., September 10, 1904, by James H. Gaut. 

General characters. — The largest and darkest colored pocket gopher in New 
Mexico ; it is very dark buffy gray and in some specimens almost black. 

Measurements. — The type, an old male, measures : Total length, 250 ; tail, S5 ; 
hind foot, 34 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — These big Apache pocket gophers were 
found in Transition Zone at Lake La Jara, Stinking Spring Lake 

64909°— 32 16 


[Burf ord Lake] , and Horse Lake on the Jicarilla Indian [Reservation 
and on top of the southern end of the Chuska Mountains on the 
Apache Reservation. (Fig. 41.) In every locality where collected 
they were found occupying the rich, black soil along the borders 
of little, inland lakes. Apparently they represent a Transition 
Zone form of the T. perpallidus aureus group, which has locally 
become strongly modified by environment and adapted to a higher 
zone than their nearest relative, aureus. Two localities from which 
they have been taken are separated by 150 miles of Upper Sonoran 
desert where aureus occurs. There can be no possible continuity 
of range between these localities and evidently the form has de- 
veloped independently along so exactly parallel lines as to be indis- 
tinguishable from the different localities. Large series of specimens 
are very uniform in character and in neither locality do they seem 
to intergrade with other species outside of their lake borders. 

General habits. — In the moist earth surrounding the shores of a 
large number of shallow desert lakes these pocket gophers throw up 
numerous large mounds of black earth. The burrows as well as the 
mounds are large, and in trapping the animals the writer found it 
necessary to fasten the traps so they would not be drawn down the 
burrows. Often the ground was wet and the mounds muddy, and in 
some cases the bottoms of the burrows contained water that had 
seeped through from the edge of the lake. An abundance of plant 
food is always available along these lake borders where the pocket 
gophers have grown to a large size compared with surrounding spe- 
cies. No specific notes were obtained on their food habits, but in the 
midst of abundant vegetation they evidently obtained an ample sup- 
ply. In the areas where they were taken there is no attempt at agri- 
culture, so that they are practically harmless and possibly of some 
benefit to the soil and grazing. 

Chestnut Pocket Gopher m 

Pseudostoma castanops Baird, Rpt. Standsbury's Expedition to Great Salt Lake, 

p. 313, 1852. 
Oeomt/s clarkii Baird, Acad. Nat Sci. Philadelphia Proc. 7: 332, 1855. Type 

from El Paso. 

Type. — Collected near Bents Fort (Las Animas), Colo., prior to 1860 by 
Lieutenant Abert. 

General characters. — Size slightly larger than that of any other pocket 
gopher in New Mexico ; colors dull yellowish brown above, slightly lighter below ; 
skull broad and heavy ; each upper incisor with a single middle groove. 

Measurements. — An adult male topotype measures in total length, 295; tail, 
95 ; hind foot, 37 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The big pocket gophers, C. castanops 
(pi. 13, C), occupy practically all of the Lower Sonoran valleys of 
New Mexico east of the Rio Grande and extend in a few places up 

22 The name " chestnut-faced pocket gopher " is entirely inappropriate as a common 
name, as its Latin equivalent was applied to the type specimen on the supposition that 
the molt line, which had progressed to the back of the head and left the fresh dark pelage 
of the head and face in sharp contrast to the old faded pelage of the rest of the body, 
was a permanent color pattern. The whole upper parts are practically uniform in color 
when in the same condition, but the molt begins at the nose and progresses backward to 
the tail with a sharply defined margin. The fresh pelage is a dull yellowish chestnut ; 
the faded coat at time of molting is much paler. 




the valleys into the edge of the Upper Sonoran. (Fig. 42.) Speci- 
mens from El Paso and Albuquerque mark the western border of 
their range. They are partial to the mellow rich soil of the valleys, 
and are especially abundant throughout the Pecos Valley and locally 
in parts of the Rio Grande and Tularosa Valleys. In two localities 
they occur in the Upper Sonoran Zone — near Weed on a branch of 
Penasco Creek and from somewhere near Chico in Colfax County. 
The specimens from both of these localities are abnormally small, 
which probably indicates an unsuitable environment. There seems to 
be no appreciable variation in the species throughout the United 
States part of its range. A series of specimens from the type locality 
near Las Animas, Colo., and from El Paso, Tex., near the type 
locality of Baird's clarkii are indistinguishable. At Albuquerque 
Loring collected specimens and found them common in 1894, and 
the writer has several times 
observed numerous large 
earth mounds over the mel- 
low soil of the Rio Grande 
Valley in that vicinity. 
At Eddy (now Carlsbad) 
Dutcher collected them in 
1892, and in 1901 the writer 
traced them all over that 
part of the Pecos Valley. 
The f ollowingyear Hollister 
and he collected two speci- 
mens on the east slope of 
the Sacramento Mountains 
at 6,000 feet altitude and 
found their big mounds 
lower down on both sides of 
the range. They were also 
found common about Ros- 
well, and Hollister collected 
specimens and reported 
them at various localities 
along the Pecos River Val- 
ley north to Santa Rosa. Gaut collected one specimen at the west 
base of the Jicarilla Mountains but could find no trace of others 
in that region. He found them abundant, however, in the Tularosa 
Valley, and collected series at points 9 miles south of Tularosa and 
near Parker Lake at the east base of the Organ Mountains. They 
are common along both sides of the Rio Grande Valley, at El Paso, 
Tex., and southward through western Texas into Mexico, but their 
range does not extend eastward beyond the region of mesquite. 

General habits. — In the rich mellow soil of the valleys these large 
chestnut pocket gophers multiply until their great mounds often 
cover a large part of the best agricultural land. They avoid the 
hard soil of the arid mesas and the upper slopes but extend their 
range as far as possible along the valleys and side streams, which 
furnish moisture and fertility. At Santa Rosa they were especially 
numerous and active in the mellow sand of the valley along the river 
flats and in the big meadows east of town. A few were scattered 

Figure 42. — Distribution of the chestnut pocket 
gopher. Cratogeomys castonops, in New Mexico 


along the Piedras Negras Creek Valley and thence eastward through 
the low gap to the valley of the Red River, where they were again 
abundant in the mellow soil of its valley. So long as the soil is 
mellow and rich and full of succulent vegetation and tender roots, 
they seem to have no choice between loose sand and rich black loam. 
In the sandy soil, however, their hills are larger and apparently 
more numerous, either because it is necessary to dig farther to find 
their food supply or because the digging is easier and the same 
amount of work carries them farther along and turns up more 
fresh earth. Their mounds are often 2 or 3 feet in diameter and 6 
or 8 inches high and are scattered along the line of the underground 
burrows at intervals of 10 to 20 feet. 

Food habits. — Like other members of the genus, these pocket 
gophers feed largely on roots obtained from their underground tun- 
nels, but they also gather green vegetation from about the openings 
that they make in throwing the loose earth from the burrows. Any 
plants within reach are cut off at the bottom and drawn down until 
they can be cut into suitable sections for carrying in the cheek 
pouches, which are stuffed until widely distended. A great variety 
are eaten, but the clovers and related plants seem to be favorite 
foods. At Carlsbad the pocket gophers were found sparingly in 
the edges of the alfalfa fields, but irrigation kept them out of the 
central part of the best fields. The stomachs of those examined 
sometimes showed only green vegetation, but usually contained a 
large portion of light-colored pulp from the roots and underground 
vegetation ground so finely that the species could not be determined. 
The plants, leaves, and stems found in the pouches give a good idea 
of the food list, and the damage done in gardens and orchards adds 
additional species. 

Breeding habits. — Little is known of the breeding habits of this 
species or of their underground habits in general. The females have 
three pairs of mammae, which is the usual number in Geomys, and 
it is probable that the young vary in number from three to six. It 
is onljr when the young are old enough to leave the nest and travel 
about the burrows that they are caught in traps, and then they are 
rarely less than half grown. When nearly full grown they evidently 
leave the parental burrows and start new tunnels for themselves, 
as a burrow rarely contains more than one adult. They do not 
hibernate but are active throughout the year. 

Economic status. — The fact that these pocket gophers occupy 
the most fertile parts of the valleys, together with their large size 
and the large quantities of earth that they throw out of their bur- 
rows, makes them especially obnoxious tenants on well cultivated 
farms. In places they do considerable damage in orchards, gardens, 
and potato fields by eating the roots, tubers, and other underground 
parts of trees and plants. In alfalfa fields and meadows their earth 
mounds cover and destroy a part of the crop, and in addition they 
eat the stems and roots. Their mounds are very troublesome to the 
farmer in mowing, as the sickle, if lowered to obtain the full cut, is 
sure to run through the heaps of sand and gravel and be seriously 
dulled. The pocket gophers are easily trapped, however, and with a 
little effort the farm land can be kept clear of them. 

North American Fauna No. 53, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey 

Plate 13 

B10382 B450 B18559 

Three Genera of New Mexico Pocket Gophers 

A, Desert pocket gopher (Genmys arewarhts) burrowing in irrigation 
ditch bank at Mesilla Park; B, fulvous pocket gopher (Thomomys 
fulvus fulvus) filling its pockets with green leaves near its burrow 
at Cloudcroft; C, chestnut-faced pocket gopher (Cratogeomys 
castanops) starting a new burrow on the prairie at Clayton. 




Desert Pocket Gopher 
Geomys arenarius Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 8, p. 139, 1895. 

Type. — Collected at El Paso, Tex., December 14, 1889, by Vernon Bailey. 

General character's. — Size, medium; tail rather long for a pocket gopher; 
colors pale buffy brown above; lower parts pale buffy or whitish, in many 
specimens with irregular patches of pure white over throat, breast, and belly. 
Upper incisors with a deep middle and shallow inner groove down the front 
of each. 

Measurements. — The type, an adult male, measures: Total length, 258; tail, 
88 ; hind foot, 33 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The pale, sand-colored desert pocket 
gopher (pi. 13, A) inhabits the Rio Grande Valley from El Paso 
north to Las Cruces and 
probably somewhat farther, 
and specimens have been 
taken as far west as Deming 
and to latitude 30° 15' on 
the Mexican boundary. 
(Fig. 43.) Specimens 
from Monahans, Tex., are 
also referred to this spe- 
cies, which very probably 
follows up the sand-dune 
area into southeastern New 
Mexico. This is a sand-lov- 
ing species of the Lower 
Sonoran valleys and in dis- 
tribution is probably cut off 
from any other species of 
the genus. 

General habits. — In De- 
cember, 1889, the writer 
found these pocket gophers 
abundant over the sandy 
river valley below El Paso, 
and up to nearly Christmas 

they were actively extending their burrows and throwing up fresh 
mounds of the moist light sand. A. K. Fisher also collected them 
on these sandy bottoms in 1894, and Loring found them in the 
same year on both sides of the Rio Grande. At Deming they were 
common in the mellow sand along the Rio Mimbres in December, 
1889, and several specimens were collected. At Las Cruces, Loring 
caught a series of specimens in June, 1894, where he found them 
abundant in the railroad grade about 2 miles north of town. In 
1909 E. A. Goldman found them common about Las Cruces, espe- 
cially in alfalfa fields and orchards. He reported one caught in 
gravelly soil on the mesa 3 or 4 miles east of Las Cruces but found 
that they generally preferred the softer soil in the bottom of the 
valley. The hills thrown up were so large that the loss of alfalfa 
covered by them was considerable. There were also complaints of 
damage from breaks in ditch banks where they were at work. 

Figure 43. — Distribution of pocket gophers of the 
genus Geomys in New Mexico : 1, Geomys brevi- 
ceps llanensis; 2, G. arenarius. Type locality 


At Mesilla Park in November, 1909, the writer found them numer- 
ous all over the valley bottoms, especially in fields and along irriga- 
tion ditch banks. The experiment-station fields, orchards, and 
grounds were full of them. In a 10-acre alfalfa field there were 
approximately eight pocket gophers to the acre, with an average of 
50 mounds to a gopher. On one sandy place the writer counted 40 
mounds in a row, pushed up by one big pocket gopher after the last 
rain, probably within two weeks. These mounds averaged about 5 
feet apart, with a peck of sand to each. A pocket gopher at work in 
the lawn of the farm at Mesilla Park had thrown up about two 
dozen hills and if left alone would have plowed over most of the 
lawn by spring. The writer set a trap and caught the animal with 
about 5 minutes work and could just as easily have caught others in 
the lawns about the other buildings. 

In many of the fields and meadows over the valley the pocket 
gophers were equally numerous, and a series of their fresh mounds 
was found along the outer banks of irrigation ditches that had been 
raised to a considerable level above the fields. In some places 
the burrows evidently reached clear through the banks of dry 
ditches, as in one place the hills were thrown out on both the outer 
and inner sides of the bank, and in other places the burrows evi- 
dently ran under the bottom of the ditch and came out on both outer 
banks. There were numbers of old breaks in the ditch banks un- 
doubtedly caused by pocket-gopher burrows. Meadows from which 
the hay had been cut were thickly dotted over with mounds, and in 
places the pocket gophers were working extensively in the orchards 
and gardens. Apparently there was no attempt to get rid of them 
or to keep them out, except where the land could be irrigated and 
then they were driven to higher levels. At that time, however, 
there was no adequate supply of water for irrigation and the pocket 
gophers were flourishing over most of the valley. After talking 
with a number of farmers who complained that they did a great 
deal of damage, especially in the orchards, but that they knew of 
no means by which they could be destroyed, the writer had no 
trouble in catching a number in traps, and to test them on poisons 
he placed a little strychnine in two pieces of potato and two 
pieces of sweetpotato and put them into occupied burrows. The 
next morning three of these burrows remained open, which indicated 
that the strychnine had done its work in them, while the other hole 
was closed, having no doubt been closed before the potato was 
eaten. The pocket gophers are so easily trapped or poisoned that 
there is little excuse for leaving them in the fields in any locality 
where they can do damage. Much remains to be learned of the 
underground habits of these animals, but the results of their depre- 
dations are only too evident. 


Mesquite Plains Pocket Gopher 
Oeomys treviceps llanensis Bailey, North Amer. Fauna No. 25, p. 129, 1905. 

Type. — Collected at Llano, Llano County, Tex., May 15, 1899, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — About the size of arenarius but darker and richer col- 
ored ; upper parts, light cinnamon brown ; lower parts, paler cinnamon ; upper 
incisors with large and small groove down the front of each. 

North American Fauna No. 53, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey 

Plate 1 4 


•■* ' ,: **'" 'NSC.' ">. 

- - ,* 


r 1 ^'feM% 

.■'. •''-.'•>-;» 

323467 B 10767 B5487 

A, Large kangaroo rat (Dipodomys spectabilis spectabilis) from Tucson, Ariz., in captivity, filling 
its cheek pouches with rolled oats; B, mound of New Mexico banner-tail (D. s. baileyi); C, New 
Mexico banner-tails caught in traps near the mound of earth that protects their underground 
burrows and den near Valentine, Tex. 


Measurements. — The type, an adult male, measured: Total length, 270; tail, 
88; hind foot, 32 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — A few specimens of the bright-colored 
mesquite plains pocket gopher carry its range west to Santa Rosa 
and the north end of the Mesa Jumanes, in the vicinity of Progresso. 
It evidently finds its way up the Red River Valley from northwestern 
Texas. (Fig. 43.) The Santa Rosa specimens are practically typi- 
cal of the species, although slightly pale, while the Jumanes specimen 
is equally pale and rather small. The specimen that Gaut collected 
at Santa Rosa was not recognized as different from Cratogeomys, 
which he had been collecting there, and his note refers to both species. 
In 1903 the writer picked up a dead pocket gopher of this species on 
the sandy river flats near Santa Rosa, but it was not in condition to 
be saved and no others were taken. On May 10, 1910, Lantz caught 
two on sandy ground near Santa Rosa and found that one had been 
feeding on yucca roots. On the Mesa Jumanes, Gaut caught one in 
a sandy location among the greasewood and tall grass, but no signs 
of others were found there. These pocket gophers are widely dis- 
tributed around the eastern edge of the Staked Plains through central 
Texas and have evidently penetrated through the Red River Valley 
to the Upper Pecos and westward, but for some reason they have not 
become generally distributed in this extreme western corner of their 
range. In Texas they are abundant on the arid Lower Sonoran 
plains, where the mesquite forms a scattered scrubby growth. Their 
habits are similar to those of other pocket gophers, and they do con- 
siderable mischief in agricultural areas. 

Family HETEROMYIDAE: Kangaroo Rats and Pocket Mice 
Arizona Banner-Tail; Large Kangaroo Rat 
Dipodomys spectaMlis Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 4, p. 46, 1890. 

Type. — Collected at Dos Cabezos, Ariz., November 22, 1889, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — One of the largest and most spectacular of the 4-toed 
kangaroo rats ; body short and compact ; hind legs and feet long and powerful ; 
front legs and feet small and weak ; tail very long and slender with long brush 
at tip; head short and broad; eyes prominent, owl-like, appearing black but 
really with dark-brown irises; vibrissae long and full; external cheek pouches 
ample, fur lined and used for carrying food and stores; a small external gland 
concealed by fur on top of shoulders. Upper parts clear dark buff with dusky 
band across top of nose ; tail gray along top and bottom, becoming black all 
around toward end and with abrupt white tip 1 or 2 inches long, white base, 
and broad white stripe along each side to beyond middle ; lower parts, feet, band 
across hips, and spots over eyes and back of ears white. 

Measurements. — Adults from the type locality : Total length, 350 ; tail, 211 ; 
hind foot, 52 and 53 millimeters. Weight of a large male, 123 grams. 

Description: — Some of the anatomical characters and adaptations 
of these beautiful animals (pi 1 . 14, A) are so interesting as to be 
worth recording. The large, rather prominent, owl-like eyes are ap- 
parently very keen in catching the least movement at night, but are 
not so keen in the daylight. They shine at night with a light-red 
or amethyst glow, very large and luminous, usually only one at a 
time but sometimes both, at 6 to 30 feet from a powerful flash light. 

The external ears are remarkably well adapted to aboveground as 
well as underground life, since quick sight and hearing and great 


speed are the only modes of defense against numerous enemies. In- 
stead of having long ears like jack rabbits, which would not be good 
for underground life, they have wide ears with large auditory open- 
ings and hooded tips to keep out the dirt. For still further protec- 
tion from earth and dust in which they are often enveloped, there is 
a crescentic lobe below the opening that closes valvelike when the 
ear is drawn down or folded back in digging or working in the loose 
earth of the burrow. 

There is still much speculation about the greatly inflated mastoids 
and audital bullae, which surround the inner ear passages with large 
air chambers of thin, almost transparent bone. These inflations 
occupy more than half of the total bulk of the very wide triangular 
skull and give the peculiar form of wide, short heads of the animals, 
which causes their owl-like appearance. It is a development found in 
less marked degree in pocket mice, pocket gophers, and other animals 
that live much underground, and reaches its extreme of development 
in the gnome mice of the genus Microdipodops. It is generally sup- 
posed to be a form of ear trumpet for catching slight sound waves or 
magnifying the sound vibrations that come through the ground, a 
sort of seismograph, although other functions have also been sug- 

Stirling Bunnell, who has studied the animals in captivity and 
made experiments in passing sound through enlarged air chambers, 
has found that the tones are clarified and made more distinct by 
the process, but there is still something to be learned of the adapta- 
tions of these animals. 

A small dermal gland on top of the shoulders is normally con- 
cealed under the hair, but when the hair is parted above it is con- 
spicuous as a warty excrescence about a quarter of an inch long. It 
has a mild musky odor, which undoubtedly serves as a recognition 
character to individuals or species of the group and may be an im- 
portant registration or property mark. It also seems to secrete a 
slightly oily substance, which in a few days causes the hair all over 
the animal's body to become mussy and rough and to lose its natural 
glossy appearance if tlip animal is kept too long in a clean box without 
sand or dust. Given a box of sand or pulverized earth, the animal 
at once and with evident relief and enjoyment rolls and rubs and 
wallows in the sand or dust until its fur is again as glossy and 
smooth as silk. The use of this oil is undoubtedly to render the fur 
waterproof, while the sand bath serves to regulate the excess of oil 
and keep the fur clean and beautiful. 

The cheek pockets, or pouches, open from below along the sides 
of the lower jaws and extend back under the skin to the line of the 
ears. They are rather short but elastic, holding about a teaspoonful 
each and controlled by thin bands of muscle from their inner surface 
to the back of the animal's neck, so that when emptied of their con- 
tents they are instantly drawn back in place. They are lined with 
fine short hairs and used entirely for carrying food. Often they are 
found well filled with seeds or plants that are being gathered for food 
or for storage. They are deftly filled by the hands and instantly 
emptied by a single motion of the hands from the back pressing 





The very long tail is at first sight a surprise and something of a 
puzzle. It tapers but little, and a long crest near the tip makes 
it seem largest toward the end, but the crest is along the top and 
much higher than wide, a veritable rudder of excellent design. Its 
use is well illustrated as the animal runs in long leaps, merely strik- 
ing the ground with the hind feet while its course is held straight 
and even or quickly turned by the long rudder tail. Also on the 
revolving wheel, on which the animals in captivity are fond of 
exercising, the tail is held curved to the inside of the circle or in the 
arc of the circle, in which the animals are running, thus enabling 
them to spin the wheel very rapidly under their feet without being 
thrown off by centrifugal force. 

The very long hind legs and feet and the powerful hind leg and 
hip muscles need no explanation, especially if the animals are seen 
hopping about on the hind feet like a robin, with as much ease and 
grace as if walking on four 
legs, the little front feet or 
hands held up under the 
chin where they are mainly 
useful in holding the food 
or putting it in the pockets 
or emptying it out. The 
soles of the hind feet are well 
cushioned with coarse hairs, 
almost like rabbits' feet. 

The nails of the four long 
hind toes are straight, long, 
sharp spikes used in dig- 
ging, running, and fighting. 
They can be curled down 
sufficiently to catch in the 
ground for greater speed, 
or for quick turns, as is 
shown by the tracks of 
running animals in the 
trails. They are also excel- 
lent digging tools. 

Distribution- and habi- 
tat. — These big kangaroo 
rats occupy most of the upper division of Lower Sonoran Zone 
and the lower edge of Upper Sonoran Zone from Tucson, Ariz., 
east to the western edge of the Rio Grande Valley in New 
Mexico. (Fig. 44.) They are generally absent from the immediate 
valleys of the Rio Grande and Gila Rivers, but seem to prefer 
the dry hard soil of the barren mesa tops and foothill slopes of 
the desert ranges. They are common about Deming, Silver City, 
Lordsburg, and Hachita, and over the side slopes of the Playas 
and Animas Valleys. 

Generally their mounds are widely scattered, but on favorite slopes 
in the Playas and Animas Valleys they may be counted in large num- 
bers all around. In places thev will average one or two mounds to 
an acre over extensive areas. Sometimes several animals are caugrht 

Figure 44. — Distribution of the large kangaroo 
rats in New Mexico : 1, Dipodomys spectabilis 
spectabilis ; 2, D. spectabilis baileyi. Type lo- 
cality circled 


at a mound, but generally there seems to be only one adult to a 
mound or group of burrows at one time. 

General habits. — Like all the kangaroo rats, this large species is 
strictly nocturnal. The animals are rarely seen by the local ranch 
people who live among them, but they are well known by their 
mounds and burrows. Even by digging out the burrows it is diffi- 
cult to capture or get more than a fleeting glimpse of the animals, 
but. they are easily caught at night in traps set near the burrows and 
baited with rolled oats or rolled barley. For study they are easily 
taken alive in tin-can traps with drop doors and may be kept in- 
definitely in suitable cages or pens properly supplied with nest 
boxes, exercise wheels, and the right kinds of food. 

They are timid but very gentle animals and easily handled if not 
alarmed or excited. They almost never bite, and if held loosely in 
the hollow hands will soon cease struggling to escape and can be as 
easily handled as any domestic animals. Once on the ground, how- 
ever, they are not easily recaptured and quickly revert to their wildest 

Fighting. — Although gentle with human beings, they have proved 
unfriendly among themselves, and only occasionally will two that 
are strangers live together without severe and often fatal fighting. 
Sometimes in cold w T eather two old males will live peaceably for some 
time in one nest box, but more rarely will a male and female live 
together in the same nest. In a large cage with plenty of nest boxes 
several can sometimes be kept without much fighting, but sooner 
or later there will surely be trouble and usually serious trouble. For 
such gentle animals they are most vicious fighters. 

After persuading two old male kangaroo rats to live together 
peaceably for a few days, the writer put a third very large and beau- 
tiful old male in with them, but gave him a separate nest box, which 
he occupied quietly until evening. Then he investigated the other 
nest box and both of the other animals burst out in great excitement, 
and there were many little tilts and passes as they came near together 
during the evening, but nothing serious. In the night they were 
heard squeaking in angry tones, and turning on the flash light the 
writer saw the two largest animals locked in a fierce struggle on the 
floor. Each had a firm grip on the other, and they were using their 
hind feet in furious kicksand jabs and tears. Neither made any 
vocal sound, but the thumping and tearing of the long sharp toenails 
could be heard, as flat on their sides they fought like bulldogs. He 
pulled them apart and scared them into separate nest boxes and 
blocked the door to the box the newcomer was in, but later in the 
night the animal forced it open, and while the writer was asleep they 
fought it out. Next morning all was quiet, but the newcomer was 
found in its nest box terribly bruised, torn, bitten, kicked, scarcely 
able to move, and its hips paralyzed. As it was evident that it coulol 
not live, it was given a soft bed in a warm place with food and 
juicy cactus to eat. It was thirsty and feverish and ate the waterv 
cactus pulp eagerly. During the evening it died without a sound or 
struggle, as silently as it had fought to a finish. 

Post-mortem examination showed that the kangaroo rat was bitten 
around the head and shoulders and in many places along the tail. 


The skin was punctured and torn over the back and hips and the skin 
of the whole back was like a sieve where the spikelike toenails had 
been driven through it and into the flesh below. This was appar- 
ently the main cause of death, but was not done during the clinched 
fighting witnessed in the night. 

On other occasions the method of fighting was noted as two ani- 
mals faced each other and jumping high in the air endeavored to 
strike each other straight down from above. At first both would 
jump at once and meet in the air, and little damage was done; but 
if one was knocked over or became tired or frightened so that the 
other got a fair stroke at it, the deadly blows reached home with 
great force and accuracy, and sometimes one would be seriously 
injured before anyone could intervene. If one turns and runs, its 
fate is sealed, for the pursuer has all the advantage and rains blows 
on its back from the rear and above. 

On several occasions the writer felt the force of their kicks, if a 
forward thrust can be called a kick, when slipping his hand into the 
nest box and suddenly touching a nose only to be met on the tip of 
a finger by a sharp stab of the toenails shot under the body and 
forward with surprising force and accuracy. 

The object of fighting seems to be generally sexual supremacy or 
protection of food stores, although they use their weapons against 
their hereditary enemy, the small kangaroo rat, and possibly against 
other enemies. 

On one occasion the writer brought in two of the large spectabilis 
and one little Dipodomys merriami in his morning round of the 
live traps. All were cold and glad to be dumped into a soft cloth 
bag together, but the mistake was made of leaving them in a small 
box together while suitable cages were being prepared. After they 
had warmed up a loud thump in the box was heard, followed by a 
shriek of pain, and rushing to the box he found the little merriami 
on its side with a broken back and the skin torn off half its body 
by a single stroke of the hind foot of the big fellow. It was fatally 
injured and had to be killed. 

Later the writer learned of the deadly enmity with which these 
little cousins were regarded and the evident cause. Though the big 
mound-building speciabilis lay up large stores, the little merriami 
usually do not store food but evidently steal from the stores of the 
larger species. They are so quick, however, that in the open they 
seem never to be caught, but if cornered in close quarters they are 
never spared. In a large cage where two of the small species were 
kept with two of the large form the little fellows were not in the 
least alarmed but always watchful. Frequently one of the large 
animals would jump across the 5-foot cage and land, toes down, 
exactly where a little one was sitting, but when it landed the place 
was always vacant. Sometimes one would spring from a revolving 
wheel to the feed box where both little ones were feeding, or again 
suddenly light on the revolving wheel where they were running, 
but always with the same fruitless efforts. For a week this was 
kept up with no harm done, but the enmity between the species was 
well demonstrated. The little ones were given nest boxes with small 
holes where they could be safe while sleeping, and seemed to rather 
enjoy the game of dodging. 


Mounds. — The large mounds with big round holes in the sides are 
conspicuous objects over the open slopes where these big kangaroo 
rats live. A fair-sized mound measured 10 by 12 feet in extent and 
18 inches high above the ground level and about the same depth 
below the surface, but some are larger and some smaller. Some of 
the largest are evidently very old and have been used for many 
years, while some of recent origin are small and have but a few holes. 
Sometimes a single hole is found at a distance from any mound, 
but the mounds are the real homes of these animals. 

Each mound is a well-developed structure with numerous rooms or 
cavities for nests, storerooms, feeding places, halls, stairways, and 
winding tunnels. Usually there are three or four levels of rooms all 
more or less connected by tunnels or passageways, and the lowest and 
deepest may be 2 or 3 feet below the surface. On the outside there 
may be three or four to a dozen open doorways and several that are 
closed from within each morning as the animals retire for the day. 
The openings are large, even for the size of the animals, and readily 
admit the owner on a dead run. 

Though generally in the open, a mound is occasionally built around 
a bunch of bushes, usually mesquite, catclaw, or blue thorn, of which 
the stems and roots serve to strengthen the walls and support an 
unusually high and symmetrical structure ; also to shade and protect 
it and to serve as some protection against larger animals that might 
try to dig into the burrows. 

The closed burrows are usually the ones occupied during the day, 
and by closing several passageways the animals shut themselves in 
and shut out some of their enemies. Snakes are probably the main 
enemies to be excluded. 

The play spirit. — As with most desert animals, life is a serious 
matter with the banner-tails, and little real levity is shown, even by 
the young and immature. Hard work and strenuous exercise seem 
to cover most of their requirements, and if given a revolving disk 
they will keep it spinning half the night and occasionally come out 
of the nest box to take a run on it in the daylight. The fascination 
of running on one of these inclined wheels begins the moment they 
discover that it runs backward as fast as they run forward, and 
great skill is quickly attained in making it spin and in fairly dancing 
over its blurred surface. Occasionally one will get going so fast 
that centrifugal force throws it against the side of the cage, but 
that only increases the enthusiasm. Some will learn to make the 
wheel spin at high speed and then stop and ride several times around 
on the edge, or jump to the center and sit spinning round and round 
enjoying a free ride until the wheel runs down. 

Whether from the play spirit or not, the exercise is evidently en- 
joyed, just as fast riding in automobiles appeals to many persons. 

Food habits. — Like all their family, these big kangaroo rats are 
dainty feeders, living mainly on small seeds neatly shelled, only the 
clean inner kernels being eaten. Many if not most of the small local 
plants furnish them food, even those with such minute seeds as the 
pigweeds and purslanes. The seeds are gathered and tucked into 
the cheek pockets with the hands, many of the small kinds in the 
capsules or heads, and carried into the dens to be eaten at leisure, and 


any excess of present needs is laid away in the storerooms for future 

Some green or succulent food is eaten, and the contents of the 
stomachs often show a trace of green or some moist pulpy material 
from sprouts, roots, or bulbs. In captivity a little green grass, 
clover, or cactus pulp, or juicy vegetables or fruit are eaten, and 
when such food is available no water is required. When the food 
is dry grain, seeds, or rolled oats, little water is necessary to keep 
them in good condition, and even to keep them alive. Several, how- 
ever, that were kept entirely without water on dry food, grain, and 
rolled oats died in two or three weeks. 

The quantity of food eaten by one captive individual in 24 hours 
was 5.5 grains of seeds and 7.7 grams of green clover and grass. 
Dried out, the same quantity of green clover and grass lost by evap- 
oration 5.7 grams of water, so that for one day this test showed 7.5 
grams of solid food and 5.7 grams of water for an animal weighing 
121 grams. Other tests showed about the same results, indicating- 
approximate proportions of food and water accepted when both are 

In captivity all kinds of grains and seeds obtainable were eaten 
by the animals, but the rich sunflower and hemp seeds seemed to be 
preferred. In the wild state also the oily seeds of many composite 
plants are sought for food. The seeds of native plants identified in 
the food stores, in feeding rooms, and in the cheek pockets of the 
kangaroo rats include those of most of the grasses and other plants of 
the immediate vicinity and could be greatly extended by covering 
more numerous localities. 

Some of the most important food plants aside from grasses found 
in their stores, including those recorded by Vorhies and Taylor 
(1922), 23 are as follows: Plantago patagonica ignota (desert plan- 
tain), Sideranthus gracilis (Aplopappus), M achaeranthera aster- 
oides (tansy aster), BoSjiia dissectifolia, Astragalus mittalUanus 
(milkvetch), Prosopis velutina (mesquite), Boerhaavia wrightii 
(four-o-clock), Eschscholtzia mexicana (Mexican poppy), Eriogo- 
num abertianum and E. polycladon (buckwheat bush), AnUacanthus 
wrightii (purple tube flower), Lupinus parvifolius (lupine), Aniso- 
lotus trispermus (birdsfoot trefoil), Mollugo verticil! at a (carpet- 
weed), Solanum el aeagni folium (trompillo), Sida diffusa (spreading 
mallow), Oenothera primiverus (evening primrose), Martynia al- 
theae folia (unicornplant), Apodanthera undulata (melon loco), 
Chamaecrista leptadenia (partridge pea). 

Of grasses the following are important in the food: Bouteioua 
rothrockii (crowfoot grama), B. anstidoides (six- weeks grama), 
B. radicosa (grama), B. eriopoda (black grama), Aristida divari- 
cata (Humboldt's needle grass), A. hromoides (six- weeks needle 
grass), A. seabra (rough needle grass), Festuca octofiora (fescue), 
Panicwn aonzonicum (panic grass), and many other grasses and 
other plants in less abundance. A. few traces of green leaves of 
Evolvulus, Atriplex, Chenopodium, and such succulent plants had 
been brought in to be eaten and the animals in captivity were eager 

23 An intensive study of the nature of the storage of Dipodomys s. spectabilis on the 
U. S. Range Reserve in Arizona. 


for these leaves. In fact the little E volvulus plants on their range 
were never allowed to grow to more than flat mats on the ground 
on account of the leaves being eaten off as fast as they grew. A 
small sod 6 inches square of almost any green grass kept in the 
cage with a banner-tail and watered would be eaten off as fast as 
the grass grew and supplied all the moisture needed by one animal. 

In places the kangaroo-rat trails ran to the base of Baccharis 
bushes growing in sandy washes where the deep roots bring up 
moisture and the underground sprouts around the base of the stems 
were dug up and eaten. These are like blanched celery but are 
more juicy and supply abundance of moisture for rodents. Other 
little sprouts and roots and tiny bulbs were dug up and eaten in 
places, and many little pits dug in their feeding grounds show where 
such juicy food is obtained by the kangaroo rats. 

The cheek pouches of an adult animal will hold a teaspoonful 
each of seeds or grain, and apparently more when filled by the ani- 
mal, instead of with a spoon. One let out of a cage in the tent 
made its home under the woodpile beside the stove and regularly 
gathered up all scattered grain from the floor and around the cages 
for its chache under the woodpile. To see how fast it could work, 
the writer placed a medicine glass (5 teaspoonfuls) of rolled oats 
on the tent floor about 8 feet from the woodpile. The animal soon 
found it and carried the oats to its cache in 2 trips, averaging 40 
seconds to a trip, including the time of filling and emptying the 

The measure proved to be one-twentieth of a quart, or one six- 
hundred-and-fortieth of a bushel. It would therefore take it 853 
minutes (14^ hours) to carry away and store a bushel of rolled 
oats or grain. Gathering grass heads and various seeds would be 
usually slower work, but the animals are exceedingly quick and 

Breeding habits. — With these remarkable animals breeding has 
become well adjusted to desert conditions. The families are small 
and the time of breeding very irregular and apparently regulated 
by weather and food conditions. The mammae of the females are in 
3 pairs, 2 pairs of inguinal on 2 elongated mammary glands well 
back on the abdomen and 1 pair of pectoral on the breast on a 
pair of smaller pectoral glands. The young are usually three or four 
in number, born early or late in the spring when the weather con- 
ditions insure a good crop of seeds and food plants. During long 
dry periods young are scarce and breeding probably delayed. 

A few young have been dug out of the nests deep in the mounds, 
and one pair kept in captivity for several years in the writer's 
vivarium bred once only, and the three young were successfully 
raised > to maturity. The old male and female were kept through 
the winter in separate cages, as they would fight savagely if put 
together, and even when allowed the range of a screened sleeping 
porch would usually fight so much that one would have to be shut 
up before morning. After the middle of winter the male became 
highly- developed sexually and so energetic that it chewed up several 
wheels and nest boxes. If a wheel stuck or became blocked in the 
night so that he could not run on it, he would chew it half into saw- 
dust before morning. By running on its wheel for several hours 


every night, it kept in good condition and ate heartily and slept 
well through the day. The female was more quiet, and in the fights 
was always on the defensive. 

On April 15 they were put in a cage together but fought so that 
they had to be parted, but on April 20 they were more friendly and 
began to sleep in the same box and run together on one wheel. 
From April 25 they were perfectly mated and the breeding season 
had begun, but actual date of impregnation could not be determined. 
On May 6 they were heard fighting in the night, and the next morn- 
ing the male was found torn and bruised and badly bitten and so 
seriously injured that it died a couple of days later. Its head, feet, 
and tail were bitten full of holes, and the skin of the back was torn 
and punctured and the flesh underneath lacerated by the spiked claws 
of the female's hind feet. The inside of the cage was bloody, where 
it had tried to escape but was unable to get away, as it would have 
done from its native mound home. The female was uninjured and 
quietly sleeping in her nest box. 

Though surprised and shocked at the tragedy, the writer learned 
some of the customs and requirements of the lives of these animals 
and is recording it for the benefit of others who may try to keep 
them in captivity. Like all rodents they are fully polygamous, and 
immediately after the mating the male is expected to go away and 
have no more to do with the family affairs until another breeding 
season comes around. 

Six days later, at 7 p. m. on May 12, the writer slipped his hand 
into the nest and felt a young, just born, wet and mussy, and at 10 
p. m. there were three young in the nest, all dry, clean, warm, pink, 
and helpless, carefully guarded, and covered by the mother. As 
nearly as he could tell the period of gestation was about 17 days, but 
there is a possibility of an error of several days either way, and fur- 
ther checks may show a different period. 

Next morning, when 12 hours old, the young were examined, 
weighed, measured, photographed, and their peculiarities noted. 
They were hairless, pink, and semitranslucent, very soft, help- 
less, and tender. A slight trace of the color pattern of the adults 
was shown by light and dark pink areas; the eyes and ears were se- 
curely closed, the tips of the ears folded over to cover the future 
openings. There were no traces of teeth and the toenails were small 
and soft. 

They weighed at 12 hours of age 9.3, 8.9, and 5.3 grams, and the 
largest one measured, in total length, 60; tail, 20; and hind foot, 9 

At 3 days of age the backs and heads had begun to darken, but 
no hair had come out on the skin except the tips of the silvery 
whiskers, which were about a quarter of an inch long. When a week 
old a soft coat of fur appeared over the bodies, plumbeous gray over 
the dark parts, and white over the light parts in the same pattern 
as in adults. There were no teeth, and the eyes and ears were not 
yet open, although the tips of the ears had straightened up. The 
claws had become well hardened, and those on the front feet were 
curved, and were used in climbing about the nest and clinging to 
the mother's fur, 


At 8 days old they weighed 19.5, 19, and 13.3 grams, and the 
largest one measured in total length, 110; tail, 45; and hind foot, 29 

On May 23, at 11 days, the incisor teeth appeared through the 
gums as hard points or edges but not curved or hooked as in the 
young of .some rodents. Their eyes opened on May 26, at 14 days. 

On May 28, when 16 days old, the color pattern was well marked, 
as shown in the photographs, and the largest young weighed 29 
grams and measured in total length, 165; tail, 85; and hind foot, 40 
millimeters. At 23 days old it weighed 42 grams and measured 
220, 120, and 46 millimeters, respectively. At 2y 2 months old they 
were almost full grown but still showed a color difference from the 
inother. When 4 months old they were apparently fully adult in 
size and color, the largest a male weighing 132 grams, 6 grams more 
than its mother, and the largest female young 125 grams, only 1 
gram less than its mother. 

Their growth and development were very rapid for animals of 
their size, and in this manner they are especially fitted to desert 
conditions, where life may depend upon storing a year's supply of 
food from the crop of seeds produced by one rain, and the same rain 
that awakened the sexual impulses in their parents. 

The care of the mother banner-tail for her young was remarkable 
throughout their growing period. For the first few weeks she 
hovered them as a bird would its young, spreading her body wide and 
covering them under her in the nest and pushing away the hand if 
anyone tried to get them from under her. 

She made a beautiful nest of cotton, filling the nest box over and 
under and all around them and closing the doorway securely so that 
she and the young were in the middle of a soft globe or ball of 
cotton. No wonder a big-footed old male was not wanted around 
the house at this time. Even after their eyes were open she watched 
the young closely, and if one was taken out and left in the cage 
outside of the nest box she promptly brought it in and closed the 
door securely behind her. 

If the writer persistently annoyed her by removing the young 
and opening the nest, the mother would dig down into the corners 
of the nest box and bury them, one in a place, out of sight under the 
nest material, and sometimes even carry them outside and hide them 
under the wheel until he was gone and she could safely bring them 
back. Up to the time they were 16 days old and weighed 19 grams 
she would pick them up in her mouth with her jaws well around a 
large part of their bodies and carry them anywhere with ease, but 
only one at a time. As they grew larger and up to half her own 
size she would pick them up with her mouth, but also use her hands 
in holding and carrying them, sometimes reaching her arms around 
their bodies much as a human mother would carry her baby. On one 
occasion when the mother and a half-grown young were being 
photographed in a box she got excited and picked up the young one 
in her mouth and arms and jumped over the top of the box about a 
foot high and started to run away with it to some safe place where 
she would not be bothered. 

When the young were being carried they held perfectly still in 
any position, and if laid down for a better hold they did not move 


or try to get away, seeming to understand that their lives might 
depend upon obedience. If hidden and covered by the mother they 
remained motionless while small, but as their strength and experience 
increased they would not always stay where put, and the mother 
had many worries. 

The play instinct began to show at about 20 days old, soon after 
they began to venture out of the nest box by themselves. They 
began to hop about, trying their long and rather wabbly legs, 
rolled in the sand, and tried in an amateurish way to run on the 
revolving disk. When 24 days old they could run fairly well on 
the wheel if alone, but when the mother was also running they got 
all mixed up and fell off or got in the way of their mother and spoiled 
all the fun. Sometimes one or more would get in the middle of the 
wheel and ride around for a while, but usually their long tails or 
legs got out on the side and tripped up the mother until she became 
exasperated and would grab one in her mouth and arms and carry 
it to the nest box and push it inside. Sometimes she would put all 
three inside of the box and then start to run on the wheel, but they 
would soon be out and under her feet again. Sometimes she got 
almost cross with them and pushed them off the wheel or into the 
nest box so roughly as to discourage them for a little while, but it 
would not last. Before long the young gained such skill on the 
wheel that they could run with and keep in step with their mother, 
and sometimes the whole family would be dancing up one side of the 
wheel and down the other, their long tails all curved to one side to 
keep their balance in a circular course. By the time the young were 
a month old they had attained great skill on the wheel and would do 
the most difficult stunts, jumping off and on the revolving wheel 
without stopping it, jumping from the spinning wheel into the nest 
box and back again without interfering with the other members of 
the family running on the wheel. 

Sometimes the young when not on the wheel would reach up with 
their hands and try to catch the bobbing white tip of their mother's 
tail as she danced along the side of the wheel, and they showed many 
little playful, childish ways that were later lost with maturity. 
Their passion for running the wheel, however, only increased with 

When nearly full grown the young were given a new cage with a 
wheel and nest box, plenty of food, and more fresh, clean sand than 
they had ever seen before. They tried the wheel and the eats, in- 
spected the nest and corners of the box, took a roll in the sand and 
then began to hunt for a place to get out, jumping at the top and 
showing great dissatisfaction. It was not home and did not smell 
or look natural, and their mother was not there. After an unhappy 
hour or so they were returned to the old cage, much to their satis- 
faction and that of the mother. 

When 24 clays old the young were given a fresh supply of dry clean 
sand in which they had a regular frolic, immediately rolling and 
playing and digging in it, rubbing their bellies, stretching their legs 
forward and back, rolling halfway over and rubbing their sides 
and almost onto their backs, kicking and pushing the sand and pok- 
ing their noses into it in a friendly sort of way. Such antics are 
64909°— 32 17 


often recorded on wind-blown sand beds in a medley of tracks and 
strange marks that have puzzled naturalists for years. 

After playing in the sand the young would make elaborate toilets, 
shaking the dust out of their fur, scratching and combing with the 
front claws over all parts of the body, smoothing out the long 
whiskers, and carefully combing the tail from base to tip with special 
care to get every hair in the long white brush straight and free. 

On June 6, when 25 days old, the young were first noticed filling 
their cheek pouches with rolled oats to be carried into the nest box 
before retiring early in the morning. They had been seen eating 
rolled oats, seeds, clover, and lettuce leaves for several days and 
were probably being weaned. Each new kind of food was tested. 
A piece of watermelon rind was given them and they licked and 
nibbled it a little but got their hands wet and immediately ran to 
the sand pile and rubbed them in the sand until dry and clean. 
They did not eat any more and evidently decided it was no fit food 
for desert habitants. 

When first born, the young made fine complaining little cries if 
disturbed, and as they grew up they often gave vocal expression to 
their feelings of hunger, impatience, pain, or anger. One at 36 
days old, while waiting on the desk to be weighed, ran into a corner 
where there was nothing to interest it, and feeling lost and lonesome 
began to cry, making two or three whining little calls, probably 
intended to reach its mother's ever-attentive ears. When fully grown 
they rarely make any vocal sounds unless two are quarreling and 
scolding at each other; on rare occasions, if one is injured, it makes 
a sharp squeak of pain. Their calls and signals are generally tap- 
pings or drumming or thumping with the feet. 

Sanitation with the young was soon as carefully observed as in 
the adults. The nest was always kept clean and neat, but the little 
dry, hard, black pellets were scattered carelessly anywhere outside 
of the nest box and soon became mixed with the sand and food refuse 
and eventually were kicked into the corners just as in their native 
homes the refuse is thrown out and used to build up the mounds. The 
rather copious urine was carefully deposited by all the members of 
the family in one place, a far corner of the cage or on one place in 
the sand under the wheel, and when the cage was cleaned out a cake 
of wet sand was found in its proper place. Either purposely or 
accidentally dry sand was kicked over the wet spot, and it was left 
as inoffensive as possible. When given a nest box half buried in 
sand, they soon completely buried the box in sand and then used the 
roof as a urinal and built it up by kicking more sand over the top. 

Storing food by the young was begun in the middle of July when 
they were about 2 months old and nearly full grown. All the sur- 
plus food given them would be gathered in the cheek pouches, the 
leaves and stems cut in short sections, and neatly placed under the 
wheel and sand banked up around one side to hide it from view, and 
later when given empty boxes these were filled with the food that 
was not needed for immediate use. Apparently the mother and young 
stored together or in close proximity, a fact that would indicate the 
continuance of this part of the family life through the fall and winter 
and that may also account for the several storage chambers and food 
caches found in most of the mounds. Seeds, grain, rolled oats, and 



green plants were stored together, but the seed and grain formed most 
of the stores. Sometimes the nest boxes would be filled so full of 
food that the nest and finally the animals were crowded out. 

Their relation to other animals was slightly suggested when a deer 
mouse got out of its cage and evidently went into the nest box of the 
family of kangaroo rats. Next morning its body was found torn half 
in two just outside the door to the nest box, evidently kicked and 
killed by the mother banner-tail. 

Later when the young banner-tails were fully grown an old grass- 
hopper mouse got out of his cage and ran into the nest box where 
the four big fellows were sleeping. In a moment one of the banner- 
tails came rushing out, shaking its head and acting very peeved, then 
another came out on a run. Opening the nest box, the writer saw 
the nest material boiling about in a lively manner, and soon the other 
two banner-tails left it in full possession of Onychomys. On reach- 
ing into the nest to take it out, the writer was met by a savage bite 
on the end of a finger that made the blood run. After evicting the 
four owners of the nest, each three times its own weight, the savage 
little grasshopper killer evidently was ready to "lick its weight in 
wild cats " or anything else. 

Economic status. — The injury to the stock range where these 
mound-building, food-storing rodents are abundant has been so fully 
set forth by Vorhies and Taylor (1922) that little need be added. 
The injury to the range is mainly from the consumption of large 
quantities of seeds of grasses and other forage plants, which in good 
years may be of little consequence, but in dry years may take a large 
part of the available seed and leave little for reproduction. 

There are many areas in southwestern New Mexico where the 
kangaroo rats are so numerous that their mounds and the bare 
patches of desert around them are conspicuous features of the land- 
scape. When they are in great abundance on range lands it would 
undoubtedly be well worth while to reduce their numbers. Their rate 
of breeding is so slow that where this is done they will not soon 
return sufficiently to do serious damage. 

New Mexico Banner-tail 
Dipodomys spectaMlis baileyi Goldman, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 36: 140, 1923. 

Type. — Collected 40 miles northwest of Roswell, N. Mex., June 13, 1899, by 
Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — Size decidedly larger than typical spectaMlis and body 
colors slightly paler, with stronger contrast of black markings ; skull .more 
massive with more expanded zygomatic arches. 

Measurements. — Type, adult male : Total length, 385 ; tail, 283 ; hind foot, 58 
millimeters. Weight of large male, 176 grams. 

Distribution and habitat. — These largest and handsomest of all 
the kangaroo rats occupy most of the Upper Sonoran Zone of New 
Mexico and northwestern Texas in the open plains country below 
the level of the nut pines and junipers, and in places come slightly 
into the upper edge of Lower Sonoran valleys. (Fig. 44.) 

In the Pecos Valley they are common across the valley from at 
least 30 miles east of Carlsbad to the foot of the Guadalupe Moun- 
tains 30 miles west, and up to 5,000 feet to the extreme upper limit 


of the Lower Sonoran Zone. Near Roswell the characteristic mounds 
of the species were first seen along the east side of the valley about 15 
miles northeast of town. None were observed in the immediate 
vicinity of Koswell, but from about 12 to 50 miles northwest their 
burrows and mounds were abundant over the grassy plain in 1899. 
From the railroad their mounds were also observed in many places 
between Roswell and Carlsbad, and in 1902 Hollister found them 
abundant from 15 miles north of Roswell to north of Fort Sumner; 
in 1903 the writer found them common over the valley about Santa 
Rosa and 8 or 10 miles farther north. Gaut found a few dens and 
collected two specimens of the animals at the northwest base of the 
Jicarilla Mountains. Their mounds were common along the eastern 
border of the Tularosa Valley and near Jarilla at the southern end 
and at the eastern base of the Franklin Mountains. Along the east 
side of the Rio Grande Valley the big mounds and burrows were 
common on the mesa from 8 miles east of Mesilla Park at 4,800 feet 
to the base of the Organ Mountains at 5,200 feet altitude. No trace 
of them was seen in the lower part of the valley about Mesilla or Las 
Cruces. There were many mounds through the Jornado Valley, and 
at Albuquerque specimens were caught on the mesa 3 miles east of 
town. In 1889 E. W. Nelson found their mounds common on the 
mesa 6 miles east of Algodones. West of the Rio Grande Valley 
Hollister found them abundant on the edges of the San Augustine 
Plain and up to the foothills of the Datil and Gallina Mountains ; in 
places actually extending up to the edge of the yellow-pine forest. 
He also found them abundant around the base of the Bear Spring 
Mountains and Jara Peak and thence over the plain to near Magda- 
lena. Their characteristic mounds and burrows were seen in the 
valley of Salado Creek both east and south of Cabezon, and a few 
specimens were secured at Juan Tofoya at the eastern base of the 
Mount Taylor Range, and tracks and burrows were seen near Laguna, 
Cubero, and Chavis. A few of their mounds were found in a valley 
15 miles southwest of Acoma. Specimens were collected a little 
west of Gallup, and the big mounds and burrows were found in the 
San Juan Valley along the east base of the Chuska Mountains and 
scattered over the valley bottom to near Fruitland on the San Juan 
River ; also along the sandy bottoms of the Blanco and Largo Can- 
yons farther east, and in the Chaco Canyon and the Escavada and 
Kimbetoh Valleys and north of the Hosta Butte Mountains. A few 
burrows and tracks were also seen near Bloomfield on the north side 
of the San Juan River, but none along the bottom part of the river 
valley. Farther south they are common along the west side of the 
Rio Grande Valley from Socorro north. None were found in the 
immediate vicinity of Socorro, but E. A. Goldman found mounds 
and burrows on the barren mesa 3 or 4 miles to the northwest. Along 
the upper part of the Alamosa River he found them abundant ; also 
on the mesas about Cuchillo and a few on the mesas near Las Palo- 
mas. A few burrows were noted along the road from Garfield to 
Rincon, but none in the vicinity of either place. At Lake Valley 
they were rather common. 

General habits. — In no important way do the habits of the New 
Mexico banner-tails differ from those of typical spectaMlis, and like 


that species they are mound builders and are recognized over their 
range by the large mounds with open or closed holes in the sides. 
Near Santa Rosa on May 28, 1903, one of these mounds was dug out 
in the hope of finding the young and nest, as the old nursing female 
had been caught at the entrance of one of the burrows the previous 
morning. This mound was about 3 feet high and 8 feet wide and 
was built around a cluster of low mesquite bushes that rose a foot or 
so above the surface. It had nine holes leading into many galleries, 
which ran close to the surface. On digging into the mound, the 
writer found the walls thin and the partitions between the chambers 
and tunnels merely thick enough to support the weight of the struc- 
ture. The whole was veritably honeycombed with tunnels and cham- 
bers irregularly arranged in three tiers one above the other. The 
materials of the partitions of the mound were a mixture of earth and 
old food and nest material, resembling the adobe walls of the Mexi- 
can houses, which are built of earth and chopped straw. This is the 
result of the occasional house cleaning when old nests and chaff are 
scraped out with the fresh earth, this material from time to time 
being added to the top of the mound. With time and rain the whole 
mass becomes packed and matted together, making a stronger and 
lighter structure than would the solid earth. The large burrows wind 
about through the mound in ascending and descending tunnels, ap- 
parently all connected and in many places widening out into cham- 
bers. In three of the larger cavities were found nests of soft grass 
and leaves, and in the largest of these nests a young kangaroo rat 
probably a week old. Its eyes and ears were not yet open, and its 
soft, almost naked, skin was distinctly marked with the pattern of the 
adult, all of the white markings of the old one appearing in pinkish- 
white lines and areas and the dark colors in plumbeous. If there 
were other young in the den, they could not be found, and the two 
other nests were empty. The nest chambers were 6 to 8 inches in 
diameter and about half filled with the soft nests of grass fibers. 

Although strictly nocturnal and closely shut in their dens during 
the daylight hours, they are evidently not entirely inactive. If you 
tap or scratch on the earth at the closed doorways there is sometimes 
a prompt response in a low drumming or thumping noise from 
within. The actual method of producing this sound has been a mat- 
ter of much discussion but of very little observation. E. A. Goldman, 
while camping one night near the Burro Mountains, heard this drum- 
ming sound during the evening and describes it carefully. He says : 

I took a lantern and approached the nest cautiously until within 10 feet. The 
kangaroo rat was just outside the entrance to one of its holes and showed but 
little fear and kept up the drumming or thumping at intervals. When making 
the sound the animal was standing with fore-feet on the ground and the tail 
lying extended. I could see the vibration of the hind feet, and the noise seemed 
to be made with the hyid feet only. The tapping was kept up for a second or 
two at a time, the sounds coming in two beats close together repeated after a 
very short interval rhythmically and suggesting the distant galloping of a 
horse. After tapping a short time the animal turned quickly about and began 
moving its head up and down in the opposite direction. It appeared to pay little 
attention to my light, but finally gave a sudden bound and entered one of its 
holes about 4 feet from where it was standing. Except for this drumming the 
animals are usually silent, and it is probable that their drumming is a signal 
code of special value to them in their partially underground life. 


Unlike the smaller species, these kangaroo rats seem to prefer a 
firm and solid soil for their habitat, and rather avoid the mellow 
sands. The open mesa top with short grass and scattered vegetation 
is often dotted over with their mounds. 

The mounds (pi. 14, B) are often 3 feet high and 10 or 12 feet in 
diameter at the base. They are built up mainly from the earth 
thrown out in excavating the burrows, but some of the surrounding 
surface soil is also scraped back upon them to increase their size. 
The numerous doorways, often six or eight in number, enter the sides 
and lead downward to the underground chambers. Usually part of 
the doorways are closed during the daytime, apparently those last 
entered by the animals. 

The mounds are not only residences but also storehouses, where 
sometimes a bushel or more of seeds of various plants are stored in 
numerous cavities for future use, not only for winter but also to pro- 
vide food for long dry periods when little or nothing grows. In time 
of abundance some of the food caches are not used but become moldy 
and later are discarded or thrown out to make room for fresh stores. 

Numerous well-worn trails lead from one mound to another or 
from the mounds to the nearest weed and seed patches and across 
wide stretches of bare ground are often as conspicuous as where they 
run through the short grass and low desert vegetation. The long 
paired tracks of the hind feet show in sandy or dusty spots, but rarely 
is a print of the delicate little hands seen on the ground. 

Food habits. — The banner-tails are dainty feeders, the small stom- 
achs showing mainly the white starchy dough from numerous small 
seeds, the shells and hard parts all removed so there is little to show 
what kinds of seeds are eaten. The contents of the food caches and 
the refuse in the feeding chambers in the mounds, however, serve to 
identify a great variety of food plants and the list includes seeds of 
most of the grasses and other seed-bearing plants of the vicinity. 

Several chambers in one house near Santa Rosa contained stores 
of food, mainly thickened bases of grass, including several species of 
Bouteloua, probably hirsuta, oligostaohy®, and ouriipendula, and a 
few seeds and seed capsules and some flowers of snakeweed (Gutier- 
rezia). There were several quarts of the grass bases forming the 
principal part of the food stores. These little grass stems, each in 
its husk of base leaves, are slightly swollen, almost bulblike, and 
although dry are sweet and starchy with a nutty flavor. At this 
particular place the excrement of the kangaroo rats was largely com- 
posed of minute fibers such as are contained in these grass stems, and 
the stomach contents of the animals, although finely pulverized, 
agreed well with the texture of the grass. 

The food evidently varies at different times of year according to 
the local supply. In September Gaut found the animals with 
leaves of the thread-leafed sagebrush (Artemisia fJifolia) tucked in 
the cheek pouches, and E. A. Goldman examined the pouches of two 
specimens that contained seeds of pigweed and whole heads of a wild 
sunflower (Ximenesia exauriculata) , seeds and capsules of common 
purslane (Portulaca oleracea) , and the seed heads of several grasses, 
including Bouteloua oUgostachya and Munroa squarrosa. At an- 
other locality in November, he found one whose pouches contained 
about a dozen heads of the little wild sunflower {Ximenesia exauric- 

North American Fauna No. 53. U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. Biological Survey 


B23449 B23457 

A, Merriam's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami merriami), captive photographed in glass box; 
B, Ord's 5-toed kangaroo rat (Perodipus ordii ordii), photographed in captivity 


uTata). In other places it was very difficult to attract them, with 
rolled oats or grain bait when there was an abundance of wild sun- 
flower seeds to be had, and it is evident that these are a favorite food 
with the kangaroo rats as with many other species of rodents. 

In November, in the San Juan Valley, Birdseye reported Gutier- 
rezia heads as forming the principal contents of the cheek pouches 
of specimens taken and of the food debris scattered around the 
mounds. In September the writer found the pouches containing 
the seeds of tumbleweed or Russian thistle (Salsola pestlfer). Near 
Albuquerque in July the animals were feeding to a great extent on 
the seeds of a little plantain {Plantago patagonica), which was 
abundant over the mesa, and the ripe heads of which were found 
scattered about the mounds and mixed with the earth thrown out of 
the burrows. 

Economic status. — In very little of their range do these kangaroo 
rats affect agricultural pursuits other than grazing. There are many 
complaints against them from cattlemen who object to riding over 
the burrows and being thrown as the horses break through into the 
underground chambers. This is a real danger, as low mounds may 
be ridden over without being seen, and in some cases the burrows 
enter the ground without noticeable mounds. A horse will often 
break through and drop a foot or two into the ground without warn- 
ing, with serious results to both horse and rider. Riding after 
stock over ground where kangaroo rats are common is especially 

Another matter of serious importance is the quantity of grass de- 
stroyed by these kangaroo rats about their dens. In places it is 
evidently considerable, and some of the best range grasses are dug 
up by the roots and carried to the dens to be eaten in rather large 
quantities throughout the winter months. The ground is usually 
almost denuded of grass for some distance around the dens and in 
places these bare spots may be seen dotting mesas which otherwise 
afford good grazing. From a slight elevation the writer has counted 
more than a hundred of these bare patches. In the total this injury 
to the range must be of serious consequence, and as range improve- 
ment progresses it will probably be necessary to reduce the number 
of the animals in many places. 

Meeriam's Kangaroo Rat 
Dipodomys merriami Mearns, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 2 : 290, 1890. 

Type. — Collected at New River, Ariz., May 16, 1885, by E. A. Mearns. 

General characters. — This little, dull-colored kangaroo rat of the 4-toed genus 
Dipodomys is the smallest of the kangaroo rats in New Mexico. 

Measurements. — Adult specimens measure : Total length, about 248 ; tail, 150 ; 
hind foot, 38 ; ear from notch, 14 millimeters ; weight, 40 to 50 grams. 

Distribution and habitat. — Merriam's kangaroo rat (pi. 15, A) oc- 
cupies the whole Lower Sonoran area of southern Arizona and New 
Mexico and extends into Mexico and western Texas. (Fig. 45.) In 
New Mexico it occupies the same ground with the very similar little 
Perodipus ordii, which, however, can always be distinguished by its 
minute thumb, or fifth toe, on the inner side of the hind foot. In 



[No. 53 

habits as well as habitat the two species are very similar and are 
often caught in the same traps and even at the same burrows. Of 
the 4-toed species there are specimens in the Biological Survey col- 
lection from Carlsbad in the Pecos Valley, from Jarilla and Tula- 
rosa in the bottom of the Tularosa Valley, and from Las Cruces to 
Socorro in the Rio Grande Valley over the Deming Plain, from about 
Deming and Hachita, in the Animas and Playas Valleys, and from 
Eedrock in the Gila Valley. They do not extend up into the moun- 
tains to any extent, but may be found wherever the mesquite tree 
grows and the soil is sufficiently mellow for their burrows. 

General habits. — These small kangaroo rats are most abundant in 
the sandy and mellow soil of the desert valleys, where their charac- 
teristic burrows, trails, and tracks are conspicuous each morning 

before the sand has blown 
over them. Among the 
sand dunes and open sandy 
areas during the day the 
tracks and trails and even 
the burrows are often oblit- 
erated by shifting sands. 

As usual in this group, 
the animals are strictly noc- 
turnal and are never seen 
moving about in the day- 
time. The burrows are 
usually closed before day- 
light and not opened again 
until after dark. They are 
generally placed under the 
edges of sheltering bushes, 
cactus, or other desert 
plants, which afford shade 
and probably other protec- 
tion. In the Tularosa Val- 
ley, Gaut reported them as 
usually found under mes- 
quite or creosote bushes or 
in some cases under cactus. In the Rio Grande and Gila Valleys 
E. A. Goldman reported them under creosote, mesquite, and other 
bushes, and under the edges of sotol and bunches of cholla cactus. 
There seems to be no preference, however, of one bush over another, 
as the choice is evidently for shade and the protecting roots or 
spines, which make it difficult for enemies to dig out their shallow 
burrows. Like the rest of the group, the animals are timid and 
without means of defense other than their long legs and rapid flight 
and the protection of their dens. 

Food habits.— Their menu, as shown by the contents of cheek 
pouches, consists mainly of seeds, but probably to some extent of 
other vegetation. At Tularosa, in November and December, Gaut 
found mesquite beans and the seeds of the creosote bush in their 
pockets. At Deming, in September, and at Cuchillo, in October, 
E. A. Goldman found several with their cheek pouches partly filled 

Figure 45. — Distribution of Merriam's kangaroo 
rat, Dipodomys mcrriami merniami, in New 


with the seeds and seed capsules of purslane. At Socorro, in August, 
he recognized the seeds of ocotillo in their pockets, and at Las 
Palomas, in October, he found the seed-bearing heads of grama grass 
{Bouteloua oligostachya) in their pockets. Many other seeds were 
found that could not be identified and some fragments of grass and 
other material that may have been intended for nest building rather 
than for food. 

Breeding habits. — One specimen collected by E. A. Goldman at 
Socorro in August contained two embryos, but others have been taken 
containing three, which is probably the normal number of young 
produced at a birth. There seems to be nothing to indicate that they 
breed more than once during the season. 

Disposition. — These little 4-toed animals are the most gentle and 
attractive as well as the most delicate and graceful of the kangaroo 
rats. When caught in the hands or taken out of " live " traps they 
are generally quiet and unafraid, rarely struggling to escape and 
never offering to bite. As pets they are the gentlest, most interest- 
ing, and most easily kept of our small rodents, apparently perfectly 
contented and happy if given a warm nest box, a revolving disk for 
exercise, a box of sand in which to roll and dust their coats, a few 
seeds, a little green grass, and a very small dish of water. They are 
the cleanest, neatest little animals imaginable and seem to enjoy being 
held in the hands and stroked or petted. Several will usually live 
harmoniously together in close quarters and snuggle up in the nest 
box, but some care must be used in mating them, as they have strong 
individual likes and dislikes. 

Economic status. — As they are strictly desert animals, avoiding 
water and dense vegetation, Merriam's kangaroo rats come but 
little in contact with cultivated crops. In irrigated valleys, however, 
they often burrow into the banks of ditches, occasionally producing 
leaks and breaks, while also carrying away some of the grain or other 
seeds from the fields. As most of the grain taken is the scattered or 
waste seeds left on the ground and of no especial value, their rela- 
tion to agriculture is not important. On the stock range, however, 
they may have a serious effect in carrying away and consuming the 
seeds and heads of numerous grasses and other forage plants, thus 
slightly reducing the carrying capacity of the range. Apparently 
they do not store food for winter use, but their food habits are not so 
well known as those of some of the storing species of kangaroo rats. 

Ord's Five-toed Kangaroo Rat 

D [ipodomys] ordii Woodhouse, Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. Proe. 6 : 224, 1853. 
Perodipus ordi Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proe. 9 : 115, 1894. 

Type locality. — El Paso, Tex. 

General characters. — The long tail, long hind legs and feet, small hands, and 
fur-lined external cheek pouches serve to distinguish the kangaroo rats from 
other rodents. The general buffy or yellow-brown color with pure-white 
underparts and black and white markings are more or less similar in the differ- 

23 In the present paper the genus Perodipus is used for the 5-toed kangaroo rats, not- 
withstanding the fact that two subspecies in California sometimes fail to produce a 
toenail on the first digit of the hind foot, and that the genus is considered invalid by 
some authors who employ Dipodomys for the entire group. 



[No. 53 


ent species, but in most cases vary sufficiently for recognition. This is the 
smallest of the four species of 5-toed kangaroo rats found in New Mexico. 
The length of the hind foot will readily distinguish the species from the larger 
longipes, montanus, or riehardsoni, but the color and markings of all are very 
similar. The resemblance is so close, however, to the little Dipodomys mer- 
riami, which occupies the same ground, that it is usually necessary to count 
the toes to tell them apart, the small inner fifth toe of the hind foot being 
present in Terodipus and absent in Dipodomys. 

Measurements. — Adults : Total length, 240 ; tail, 134 ; hind foot, 38 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Perodipus ordii (pi. 15, B) inhabits 
the Lower Sonoran valleys of southern New Mexico, extending north- 
ward as far as Carlsbad in the Pecos Valley, Tularosa in the valley 
of that name, Socorro in the Kio Grande Valley, and up the Gila 
and San Francisco Kivers to Cliff and Alma. (Fig. 46.) The ani- 
mals are abundant throughout practically all of the Lower Sonoran 

area of the State, but do 
not extend to any distance 
into the Upper Sonoran 
Zone. Their range in 
Texas, Mexico, and Ari- 
zona is also mainly Lower 
Sonoran. At Carlsbad, in 
1892, Dutcher wrote of 
them : " Exceedingly com- 
mon, swarming among the 
sandhills where the hill- 
sides afford an opportunity 
to dig their horizontal bur- 
rows. Also common on 
hard and stony ground of 
the mesas." At jarilla and 
up through the great Tula- 
rosa Valley Gaut reported 
them as "common and 
living in the same situa- 
tions with Dipodomys 
merriami? In fact, he 
often caught them at the 
entrance of the same bur- 
rows and found them with much the same habits. In the Rio 
Grande Valley at Mesilla Park and Las Cruces they are especially 
abundant in the dunes and sandy soil of the valley bottom, but they 
are also found in many places over the surrounding mesas to the foot 
of the adjoining mountain slopes. At Socorro, E. A. Goldman re- 
ported them rather scarce. One was taken among dalea (Parosela) 
bushes on a sand drift just above high water level on the west side 
of the river, and another at a hole in the bare ground in the little 
valley of Ojo de la Parida, 10 miles northeast of Socorro at an 
altitude of nearly 5,000 feet. Specimens have not been taken fur- 
ther up the Rio Grande Valley, but it is probable that a few may 
extend somewhat farther, as they extend out onto the San Augustine 
Plain, where a few burrows were seen and a specimen collected. Over 
the great Deming Plain they are abundant everywhere, especially in 
the mellow soil of the washes and sandy bottoms. 

Figure 46. — Distribution of 5-toed kangaroo rats 
in New Mexico : 1, Perodipus montanus mon- 
tanus; 2, P. montanus richardsoni; c, longipes; 
4, P. ordi ordii. Type locality circled. 


General habits. — Though these small kangaroo rats are often 
found in hard or gravelly soil, into which they burrow with con- 
siderable freedom, they seem to prefer and often fairly revel in the 
mellow sand of dunes and valley borders. Here their burrows are 
also more conspicuous and their trails and peculiar tracks are seen 
in great numbers over the surface of the shifting sands. In many 
cases the burrows enter the ground under the edge of cactus or 
some of the low bushes or spreading plants that seem to offer them 
shelter and protection, but in other cases they are in the most ex- 
posed and unprotected situations. A sand bank or sloping dune is a 
favorite site for the burrow, which always enters the ground at a 
nearly horizontal position, often with the doorway slightly lower 
than the main shaft of the burrow. They do not, as some other spe- 
cies, build mounds over their dens, but the burrows are often in 
groups of three or four or even more, radiating from a common 
underground center. For the size of the animal the burrows are 
rather large, and at times considerable earth is thrown out, usually 
to quite a distance from the entrance. Part of the burrows are 
closed during the day, apparently to keep out snakes and other 
enemies, but some are always left open, and it is probable that the 
closed burrows are the ones occupied. The little animals are strictly 
nocturnal, very timid, and practically defenseless, but in times of 
danger the speed of their long legs must generally enable them to 
reach their underground dwellings. Their method of progress is 
by long leaps, the hind feet only being used for running or hopping 
about. The delicate little hands are used mainly in gathering and 
holding food, in filling and emptying the cheek pouches, and in 
digging for food or extending their burrows. The loose earth from 
their burrows is brought out and kicked backward to considerable 
distances from the entrance by means of the strong hind feet, but 
the front feet are used in loosening the earth and also to support 
the weight of the animal's body when the hind feet are being used 
to throw the earth backward from the burrow. If the closed door- 
way is opened during the daytime it is usually closed again in a 
short time, showing that the animals are alert while shut in their 
dens and usually supposed to be sleeping. On several occasions the 
writer has watched them bring the earth to the entrance of a freshly 
opened burrow and kick it back of them until the doorway was again 
closed. From the entrance of the occupied burrows there are usually 
runways or well-beaten trails leading away to the feeding grounds 
or from one burrow or group of burrows to another. These trails 
may sometimes be followed for many rods as they extend in straight 
lines across the open or wind about to avoid obstructing vegetation. 
The peculiar paired tracks of the long hind feet may also be seen 
over the surface of fresh sand, and in places the distance of 3 to 5 
feet between these tracks shows with what speed the frightened 
animals can progress. 

Food habits. — The principal food of the 5-toed kangaroo rats con- 
sists of seeds of a great variety of desert plants. As much of it is 
gathered and carried in the cheek pouches and stored and eaten in 
the burrows, the nature of it is easily determined. The animals 
caught in traps for specimens usually have more or less food ma- 
terial in their pockets, which is readily identified. At Deming, in 


December, 1889, the writer found that their pockets contained a 
great number of the fallen seeds of wild sunflowers; also the little 
hard beans of a dalea (Parosela), and in August, 1908, Goldman 
found them at the same place gathering in the seeds of the common 
mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa). In some localities it is very diffi- 
cult to trap them as they find an abundance of seeds, which they 
prefer to rolled oats or any other bait that can be offered them. At 
Glenwood on the San Francisco River, in early November, the 
writer was unable to catch them for this reason, as they were 
evidently feeding on the abundant wild-sunflower seeds (Helian- 
thus and Ximenesia), which covered the ground. Near Bedrock in 
the Gila Valley, in September and October, E. A. Goldman found 
the cheek pouches containing seeds of sandbur (Cenchrus) and 
sunflower seeds (Ximenesia ewazflricwlata) , and at Gila the pouches 
of one were partly filled with the prickly seeds of rag bush (Gaert- 
neria acanthicarpa) . Near there the pockets of another contained 
stems of grass cut into sections one-half to three-fourths of an inch 
in length and laid parallel in bundles in the pockets. A specimen 
caught at Cliff in November had one seed of a croton in one pocket 
and a section of green grass stem in the other. At Pleasanton, in 
October, E. A. Goldman collected another specimen that had some 
sections of grass stems in one pocket and the seeds of an amaranth 
in the other, and at Deer Creek in Grant County he found in the 
pouches of one the ripening seeds of the desertwillow (Chilopsis 
linearis). At Las Cruces in November he found pockets filled with 
seeds of tumbleweed (Atriplex eccpansa), a few of the spiny seeds 
of rag bush (Gaertneria acanthicarpa) , and a few leaves of 
marsh fleabane (Pluchea sericea). These were in addition to the 
rolled oats from the trap bait, which is usually found in their 
pouches. At Lake Valley he found pockets containing seeds of 
the common wild sunflowers (Ximenesia exwwiculata) and a few 
capsules and seeds of a purslane. At Cuchillo he again found the 
capsules of common purslane (Portulaca oleracea) and seeds of 
Compositae and other plants in the pouches, and at Rio Alamosa 
one well filled with the capsules and seeds of the same purslane. In 
December, Gaut collected specimens near Tularosa whose pouches 
were well filled with the seeds of creosote bush (Covillea tridentata), 
which at that time of year had dropped most of its seeds on the 
ground. It is evident that most of the food is carried to the bur- 
rows to be eaten at leisure or stored for times of scarcity, as large 
quantities of seed shells and other refuse are thrown out from the 
entrances. Like the other kangaroo rats, Perodipus does not hiber- 
nate and seems to be active even in the coldest weather. 

Breeding habits. — In adult females the mammae are arranged in 
3 pairs— 2 pairs of inguinal and 1 pair of pectoral. One female 
collected by E. A. Goldman at Gila, October 12, 1908, contained 
three embryos, which very probably represents the normal number 
of young in a litter. Of 10 adult females that the writer caught at 
Deming from November 29 to December 6, 1889, 4 were apparently 
nursing young, as the teats were full of milk. At the same time 
numbers of nearly full-grown young were being caught. 

Economic status. — Over most of their habitat these little kangaroo 
rats inhabit open desert country, where they can do no possible harm 


to crops but may seriously reduce the grazing capacity of stock 
ranges. In the irrigated valleys where crops of small grain are 
raised, they feed to some extent on the grain and may carry away 
and store considerable quantities. Their mischief in this respect is 
rather local and not very serious, but the constant menace of their 
burrows to the banks of irrigation ditches is a more serious matter. 
With other species of burrowing rodents, they must be constantly 
watched, for if allowed to inhabit the ditch banks frequent breaks 
are sure to occur. Their preference for burrowing into sidehills 
often leads them to select the bank of any ditch running along the 
edge of a valley where the ground on one side is lower than the level 
of the water. Fortunately, they are easily controlled, and in areas 
of special danger they can be reduced to practically harmless 


San Luis Kangaroo Rat; Tua-pena of the Taos Indians 
Dipodomys montanus Baird, Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. Proc. 7 : 334, 1855. 

Type. — Collected at Fort Garland, Colo., in 1853 by Mr. Kreutzfeld under 
Lieut. E. G. Beckwith. 

General characters. — Very similar in general appearance to ordii but slightly 

Measurements. — Adult males measure : Total length, about 253 ; tail, 141 ; 
hind foot, 40 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — From the San Luis Valley in southern 
Colorado, where it was first discovered, montanus extends southward 
along the upper Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico to Santa Fe 
southward in the high valleys east of the Rio Grande to Gran Qui- 
vera and the Jicarilla Mountains. (Fig. 46.) It is restricted to 
the Upper Sonoran Zone and inhabits both the open valley and 
plains country and the juniper and nut pine foothills of its region. 
It prefers the mellow soil and is usually most abundant where sandy 
ground is available for its burrows. In many places, however, it is 
found dispersed over the hard mesas and in soil that must require 
considerable strength and skill in digging. It is especially abun- 
dant over the sandy bottoms of the Rio Grande Valley about Es- 
panola and along the lower Chama River. 

General habits. — In habits this species does not differ from ordii 
except as the slightly different environment makes necessary its adap- 
tation to different types of food and cover. In a cooler and less 
arid climate the more northern animals have slightly different condi- 
tions to meet. At Espanola in January, 1894, Loring found them 
common on the weedy flats along the valley bottom and on January 
5 found their tracks in a light snow that had fallen the night before. 
To just what extent they are active during the time of deep snows, 
which occur in the San Luis Valley, is not known, but it is probable 
that their stores of food will carry them through considerable peri- 
ods when the ground and seeds are buried. 

Food habits. — Apparently the kangaroo rats feed to some extent on 
grass as well as seeds of various plants, as the writer has taken them 
with the heads of grama grass in their pockets. In the vicinity of 
Taos they would not touch traps baited with rolled oats, apparently 
on account of the abundance of seeds of wild sunflowers (Helianthus 
and Ximenesia) over the surface of the ground. Usually, however, 


they are very fond of rolled oats and are easily caught by setting 
the trap near their burrows or at the edge of their runways and 
sprinkling this bait over the trigger. Where there are no well-defined 
runways in which to set the traps, a long mark may be made by 
dragging the foot along the ground to make a smooth trail. Any 
kangaroo rat that finds such a trail is almost sure to follow it, and 
a trap set across it and baited with rolled oats will usually secure a 

Breeding. — The breeding habits of this species are little known, 
but probably do not differ from those of ordii or other closely re- 
lated members of the genus. 

Economic status. — A large part of their range lies within a re- 
gion where agriculture is largely dependent on irrigation. For this 
reason the burrows of the animals are a menace to the banks of many 
of the ditches that follow the valley borders. But for their natural 
enemies, hawks, owls, foxes, coyotes, cats, and weasels, they would 
undoubtedly be present in such numbers that they would do far 
greater damage. By the application of control measures in locali- 
ties where they are especially troublesome, in addition to the wise 
protection of some of their natural enemies, serious trouble from these 
rodents can probably be avoided. 

Richardson's Kangaroo Rat 
Dipodops rwhardsoni Allen, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 3 : 277, 1S91. 

Tupe. — Collected at Beaver River, Beaver County, Okla., October 26, 1887, by 
Jonness Richardson and John Rowley, jr. 

General characters. — Slightly larger and brighter yellow than P. m. montanus, 
with which it apparently intergrades in the region west of the upper Pecos 
Valley. The dark stripe on the lower surface of the tail reaches only about 
half the length of the tail, while in the other species it reaches the whole 

Measurements. — Average of adults: Total length, 258; tail, 139; hind foot, 
42 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — Richardson's kangaroo rat is a wide- 
ranging species of the Great Plains, in the Upper Sonoran Zone, 
extending from Montana to west-central Texas and covering practi- 
cally all New Mexico east of the Pecos River Valley and Sangre de 
Cristo and Raton Mountains. (Fig. 46.) Specimens from Clayton, 
Raton, Santa Rosa, Fort Sumner, and the region about Roswell are 
referable to this species, while at Carlsbad the smaller and apparently 
distinct ordiii almost, if not quite, meets its range. The animals are 
especially abundant where the soil is mellow and sandy, but in many 
places they burrow into fairly firm prairie soil. Generally they 
are on the open plains, but in many localities they are found among 
the scattered junipers and nut pines where soil and other conditions 
are suitable. 

General habits. — The habits of richmdsoni are very similar to those 
of other species of the genus. The animals make lone:, horizontal 
burrows usually in groups of two or three radiating from a common 
center and opening out sometimes 6 or 8 feet apart. The occupied 
burrows are usually closed during the dav and not opened until after 
dark. Well-worn trails often lead from* the doorways to a consider- 


able distance, especially where the low vegetation is sufficiently dense 
to make traveling easier in trails than in the standing grass, but 
even on sandy and open ground the trails are often well worn and 

Food habits. — Apparently these kangaroo rats also live mainly 
upon the seeds of various plants and grasses, but in many cases the 
leaves and stems of grass and other plants have been found in their 
pockets. At some of the burrows the chaff, remains of grass stems, 
and heads are thrown out in considerable quantities, which indicates 
that their food is not entirely seeds but comprises some of the green 
foliage or dried parts of plants. Near Santa Rosa the pockets of one 
specimen contained a few leaves of a little saltbush (Atriplex), some 
yellow leaves apparently of loco weed (Oxytropis), and a few seeds 
of juniper berries. Oatmeal from the trap bait is commonly found 
in their cheek pouches and occasionally a little wheat or other grain 
from the fields. The grain, however, seems to have been picked up 
from scattered or sown grain, and the writer knows of no evidence 
that they pull or cut down the stalks of growing grain. 

Breeding habits. — As with other members of the genus, the mam- 
mae are arranged in 3 pairs, 2 pairs of inguinal and 1 pair of pectoral, 
and there are records of two and four embryos. Out of a large num- 
ber of specimens collected, there are no very small young taken late 
in the season, and it seems probable in their zone and climate that 
not more than one litter is raised in a year. 

Economic statws. — For many years the country occupied by this 
species has been mainly stock range, but in recent years the " dry- 
farming " methods have made little ranches possible and carried con- 
siderable agriculture into their area. The kangaroo rats undoubtedly 
take a small toll of planted seeds and possibly of ripening grain, but 
their depredations are of little consequence by themselves. Added to 
those of many other species of rodents, however, they help to swell 
the total, which means a steady drain on the returns of farm labor. 


Moki Kangaroo Rat; Bar-hu of the Mold Indians (Fisher); Natjshestoyi 

of the Navajo Indians 

Dipodops lo-ngipes Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 3, p. 71, 1890. 

Type. — Collected at foot of Echo Cliffs, Painted Desert, Ariz., September 22, 
1889, by C. Hart Merriam. 

General characters. — Largest of the 5-toed kangaroo rats occurring in New 
Mexico. In color it differs but little from the bright buffy richardsoni further 
east, but the dark stripe runs the whole length of the lower surface of the 

Measurements. — Total length, about 275 ; tail, 165 ; hind foot, 42 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The species longipes, which was first 
described from the Painted Desert, in Arizona, extends over a large 
area of high arid plains in northwestern New Mexico. (Fig 1 . 46.) 
It occupies the great San Juan Valley and the Zuni Plains south to 
the northern base of the Datil Mountains and east to Laguna and 
Kiley on the western edge of the Rio Grande Valley. It probably 
fills the whole Upper Sonoran Zone of this region, but the borders 
of its range and its relationship with neighboring species have 
not been fully determined. There are specimens from Blanco, 


Fruitland, Fort Wingate, Gallup, Juan Tofoya, Laguna, Quemado, 
Kiley, Shiprock, Thoreau, Wingate, and Zuni Kiver. 

General habits. — The large size of these kangaroo rats makes it 
possible to distinguish their burrows and tracks from those of smal- 
ler species. The burrows often seem unnecessarily large for the size 
of the animal, especially in the mellow sand, where digging is easy 
and where natural mounds are abundant, into the sides of which the 
burrows penetrate in almost horizontal positions. In sandy places 
in the San Juan Valley there is often a suggestion of an artificial 
mound over and around the entrance of the burrows. The earth 
that is brought out of the burrows is thrown backward to build up 
an artificial mound evidently to protect the underground den from 
which the burrows open out on all sides. The mound-building habit 
is but slightly developed in this species and is only occasionally 
noticeable, while in some other species, as in Perodipus panamintinus 
and Dipodmivys spectabills, it is highly developed. As a general 
thing, however, the burrows enter the ground singly or in groups 
in the ordinary way and show the same type of structure with the 
same radiating trails as in other species of the genus. The animals 
are often abundant, and early in the morning the barren areas of 
sand show networks of their tracks and trails. These are usually 
wiped out before night by the drifting sands, only to be reprinted 
with some variety in each early morning edition. The doorways of 
occupied burrows are usually closed during the day, and the animals 
are rarely seen unless one's horse breaks through into the under- 
ground den and a startled kangaroo rat pops out of the end of some 
burrow that leads almost to the surface but had been left with a 
thin covering of earth. 

Food habits. — As in other species of the genus, their food is gath- 
ered and apparently most of it carried to the burrows in the cheek 
pouches to be eaten in greater safety at home. In places they are 
eager for rolled oats or almost any grain offered them as trap bait, 
but again they will not touch any of these or any kind of bait that 
can be offered, evidently because they are finding their favorite 
seeds abundantly scattered over the ground. At Gallup in Septem- 
ber, 1908, the writer found them numerous, but at that season they 
would not touch the trap bait and only one specimen was secured. 
This one had a small collection of seeds of tumbleweed, or Kussian 
thistle (Sal-sola pestifer), in its cheek pouches. In June, of 1905, 
Hollister found them abundant at Wingate, where he says their dens 
were commonly placed near the base of some bush where the sand 
was built up in a mound, but many were found in open places with 
no protection. Numbers of the animals were seen running about 
soon after sundown, scampering from one bush to another. They 
seemed to be busy gathering seeds of plants, and specimens shot often 
had their cheek pouches filled with seeds. In October of the same 
year he found them in the edge of the Gallinas Mountains, when the 
cheek pouches of the specimens taken were partly filled with seeds of 
various common plants of the vicinity. In the San Juan Valley in 
October and November, 1908, Clarence Birdseye found them abun- 
dant but very difficult to trap, as they did not care for the trap bait. 
By using an abundance of squash seeds, wheat, oats, and rolled oats, 
he succeeded in catching a few, but was obliged to set small steel 
traps in their runways to get a series of the animals. The traps 


were sunk in the runways and. covered with tissue paper, over which 
sand was sprinkled, and in several cases parts of the tissue paper 
were found in the pockets of the rats, evidently being carried away 
for nest material. The pockets of those caught contained seeds of 
the Russian thistle (Salsola pestifer) , rabbit brush (Bigelovia and 
Gutierrezia) , and bee plant {Gleome serrulatum) . 

Breeding liabits. — In the latter half of June, near Wingate, Hol- 
iister caught numbers of half -grown young, and one female taken on 
June 20 contained four good-sized embryos. In September and. 
October the specimens taken were all nearly full grown, and it is 
probable that but one litter of young is raised in a season. 

Economic status. — In a great part of the country covered by these 
kangaroo rats there is no agriculture and but little white population. 
In the San Juan Valley, however, there is a large area of valuable 
agricultural land that has been developed under the irrigation system, 
and here the kangaroo rats do some slight damage to the banks of 
irrigation ditches. In other localities where irrigation is possible 
they do considerable mischief, although they are not so serious a pest 
as the pocket gophers. In passing through the valley at Zuni in 
September, 1908, the writer found an abundance of these kangaroo 
rats and their large burrows in the mellow soil of the valley. The 
great ditch for carrying the water from the reservoir to the farm 
land of the valley had at that time just been completed, but the water 
had not yet been turned in. This ditch ran for many miles along the 
sloping side of the valley, and its lower bank was built up in such a 
manner that the bottom of the ditch was as high as and in places higher 
than the slope below. The kangaroo rats had gathered along this 
new embankment of mellow sand as if it had been placed there espe- 
cially for their habitations. They had come from far and near and 
taken up their quarters in the mellow bank and were rapidly perfo- 
rating it with big, round burrows that began near the bottom and 
went straight back into the bank. In places there were three or four 
of these burrows in 8-foot sections of the bank that the writer's little 
camera would include at a distance of 10 feet. Most of the burrows 
were in the lower bank of the ditch. The writer was not present 
when the water was later turned into the ditch, but probably many 
breaks occurred. In such cases it would not be difficult to protect 
the ditches by killing the animals that had collected there. 

Baird's Pocket Mouse 
Perognatus fiavus Baird, Acad. Nat. Sei. Phila. Proc. 7 : 332, 1855. 

Type.— Collected at El Paso, Texas, in 1851 by J. H. Clark. 

General characters. — A small, smooth-furred, yellow mouse with short, 
rounded ears, and rather short, smooth tail. Upperparts rich pinkish huff 
clouded with dusky; spot back of the ear and a band along the side clear 
buffy ; underparts white. 

Measurements. — Adult specimens average: Total length, about 112; tail, 
50; hind foot, 15.8 millimeters. Weight of male, 7.3 grams; of female, 6.5 

Distribution and habitat. — Baird's pocket mouse (pi. 12, B), 
apparently the smallest rodent in America, is an abundant species 

64909°— 32 18 



[No. 53 

over a great part of New Mexico, occupying the valley country in 
both the Upper and the Lower Sonoran Zones. (Fig. 47.) Speci- 
mens have been taken at Carlsbad, Santa Rosa, Clayton, Chico 
Springs, Raton, Ribera, Taos, Manzano Mountains, Mesa Jumanes, 
Carrizozo, Tularosa, Deming, Hachita, Playas Valley, Glenwood, 
Diamond Creek, Fairview, San Augustine Plain, Riley, Datil Moun- 
tains, Quemado, Rio Puerco, Laguna, Grant, Fruitland, and Liberty. 
The species is also abundant at the type locality, El Paso, Tex., and 
extends south into Mexico, west into Arizona, and northward into 
Colorado and Nebraska. It is partial to mellow soil of the valley 
bottoms, where it lives among the scattered weeds and bushes and 
burrows in the sand. Occasionally it is found on the sidehills and 
even among the stones and on rocky ground, but always where there 

is mellow soil in which to 

General hah its. — At 
Deming in December, 1889, 
Baird's pocket mice were 
abundant among the scat- 
tered mesquite bushes a 
mile east of town. Their 
tiny burrows, usually 
closed during the day, were 
common, and little run- 
ways or lines of tracks led 
from them to neighboring 
patches of wild sunflower 
and other seed-1 a d e n 
plants. The little animals 
were evidently finding an 
abundance of choice food 
at that season and careful- 
ly avoided all traps and 
such bait as the writer 
could offer them. As the 
old cyclone traps were the 
only available mouse catch- 
ers at that time, he was 
obliged to remodel them by taking off one spring and bringing the 
other back to one side and flattening the trigger so they could be 
used as runway traps. With these carefully concealed in the run- 
ways, specimens were readily caught as they ran over the trigger. 
In the same way a little later he secured a series of topotypes at El 
Paso, where the mice were common on the sandy bottoms below 
town. Their burrows were generally in groups of three or four 
near together, evidently connecting below in a regular den. Often 
they were placed around the edges of a little tuft of desert brush, 
which afforded some shelter and protection. On warm December 
mornings their tracks were numerous in the light dust around the 
burrows and led away in trails from the burrows to the nearest 
sunflower or pigweed patches. 

At other times of year, when there are fewer ripe seeds on the 
ground, they take rolled oats with avidity and are easily caught in 

Figure 47. — Distribution of Baird's and Yavapai 
pocket mice in New Mexico : 1, Perognathus 
flavus flavus; 2 P. flavus bimaculatus. Type 
locality circled 


traps set near their burrows or in artificial trails made by drawing 
the foot over the ground. Their tiny burrows are easily recognized, 
and if specimens can not be secured in traps they can be driven 
out of the burrows and caught in the hands. The burrows are not 
extensive and in mellow soil can be opened with a stick or with the 
fingers and the animals forced out. In Canyon Largo the writer 
secured one by turning over a flat stone under which the burrow led, 
and as the sleek little creature popped out of its den underneath he 
caught it in his hands and had a good opportunity to examine it 
closely. Few small mammals are more beautiful than these silky, 
bright-eyed mice. They are timid and when caught in the hands 
will struggle to escape, but make no attempt to bite or scratch. If 
held gently they soon become quiet and may be stroked as they sit in 
the open hand. On the San Augustine Plains E. A. Goldman caught 
specimens at burrows in the loose sand under a saltbush (Atriplex) , 
and while digging for pocket gophers in September he dug into an- 
other of their dens and in a handful of earth threw out a young 
Baird's pocket mouse, which started off in short jumps but which 
he quickly caught in his hands. In the Datil Mountains Hollister 
found many of their burrows in the sandy soil, all with the entrances 
closed during the daytime. 

Food habits. — So far as known, the food of this little mouse con- 
sists mainly of seeds, the pure white contents of the stomach indicat- 
ing that they are carefully shelled and only the inner parts eaten. 
In captivity the mice eat a little green leaves, cactus pulp, lettuce, or 
other moist vegetation. In the Datil Mountains Hollister found the 
cheek pouches usually filled with small grass and weed seeds. At 
Santa Rosa in May and June, the writer found several with their 
pockets filled with seeds of juniper berries. Their partiality to the 
patches of seed-laden wild sunflowers and other composite plants, and 
patches of Croton would indicate that the seeds of these were favor- 
ite food, but their menu evidently varies with the season and the 
seed supply. At times they are very fond of rolled oats and will 
stuff their pockets full and carry it away to their dens. Very often, 
however, when more palatable seeds are available they refuse this 

Breeding habits. — The mammae of the females are arranged in 
3 pairs, 2 pairs of inguinal, arranged so far forward that they 
might almost be considered abdominal, and 1 pair of pectoral. A 
specimen examined at Santa Rosa on May 28, 1903, contained two 
half-developed embryos. This evidently is not the full number, 
however, as another female taken June 5 had lately given birth to 
six young. The normal number of young is more probably three 
to six. There seems to be great irregularity in the time of their 
breeding, or possibly two or more litters are raised in a season. At 
Higbee, Colo., Ned Dearborn took a less than half -grown young on 
April 16, and at La Junta, Lantz took two half-grown young on 
April 23. At Ribera, N. Mex., the writer caught a half-grown young 
on July 3. On the San Augustine Plains E. A. Goldman caught 
a quarter-grown young on September 15, and two half -grown young 
the next day. At Riley, Hollister caught a half-grown young 
September 23. At Deming and El Paso the writer found females 
with milk in their teats in December. 


Economic status.— Some claims have been made that these mice dig 
up the planted grains, but among the many other species of rodents 
to which the charge is also applied it is difficult to fix the guilt. 
Undoubtedly they do, where opportunity offers, consume some grass 
seed on the range and carry away a little of the planted grains from 
the edges of fields. Alone their depredations would be of little con- 
sequence, but added to that of many other rodents their mite adds to 
the tax levied upon the products of the soil. Their burrows often 
penetrate the banks of irrigation ditches, but in most cases are too 
small and shallow to be of serious consequence. On the other hand 
their destruction of weed seeds may well offset all their debts to 

Yavapai Pocket Mouse 
Perognathus bimaculatus Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 1, p. 12, 1889. 

y^pe—Collected at Fort Whipple, Yavapai County, Ariz., May 21, 1865, by 
Elliott Coues. 

General characters. — A robust form of the fiavus group, readily distinguished 
by its larger size and darker coloration. The young or half-grown specimens 
of fiavus are of a blue-gray color while of bbmaculatus they are conspicuously 
dusky gray. None of the New Mexico specimens are perfectly typical bimacu- 
latus, but those from Fort Wingate and Gallup, while somewhat intermediate, 
are decidedly nearest to this form. Those from the San Augustine Plain 
and San Juan Valley, while somewhat intermediate in characters, are referred 
to fiavus. 

Measurements. — Adult specimens of typical bimaculatus measure: Total 
length, 118 ; tail, 53 ; hind foot, 17 millimeters. 

Distribution and h-abitat. — With most of its distribution in the 
plateau region of Arizona the Yavapai pocket mouse extends up 
the Rio Puerco branch of the Little Colorado River into western 
New Mexico and may well have a wider distribution over the sur- 
rounding plateau country. (Fig. 47.) It seems to be mainly an 
Upper Sonoran form. 

General habits. — In habits these mice seem to be identical with 
the small fiavus. At Fort Wingate, in June, Hollister found them 
common and easily trapped at their burrows under the edge of 
bushes on the sandy flats of the Puerco Valley. Unfortunately most 
of the specimens caught were devoured by other mice, probably by 
the grasshopper mice, which were taken at the same locality. Hol- 
lister says their cheek pouches were nearly always filled with tiny 
seeds. At Gallup, in September, the writer found abundant traces 
of them all over the valley in sandy soil, but only one specimen was 
caught. They refused to touch any kind of bait at this season, and 
the one caught accidentally got its tail in a trap in running across it. 
Their little burrows both closed and open, were common under and 
around bunches of sagebrush, rabbit brush, and saltbush. On still 
mornings the tiny tracks were seen all around the traps, but the 
traps were carefully avoided. The one specimen taken had a few 
seeds of tumbleweed, or Russian thistle {Salsola pestifer), in its 
pockets. At this season, however, there was an abundance of other 
ripe weed seeds on the ground, and the mice were evidently busy stor- 
ing a supply of their favorite foods. 




Breeding habits. — These are probably identical with those of P. 
■flavus as the mammae are of the same number and arrangement. 
There is one record from the type locality of a female containing 
four embryos. 

Economic status. — As the range of the species is mainly over a 
region of grazing land where there is little attempt at agriculture, 
it has little economic importance. Its consumption of weed seeds 
may even prove of some benefit to the range, especially if it succeeds 
in checking the abundance of such injurious plants as the tumble- 


Apache Pocket Mouse 
Perognathus apache Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 1, p. 14, 1889. 

Type. — Collected in Keam Canyon, Apache County, Ariz., May 22, 1888, by 
J. Sullivan. 

General characters. — This buffy or pale yellow pocket mouse is noticeably 
larger than flavus or Mmaculatus and has relatively smaller ears and longer 
tail than either. It is clear 
light buff above and pure white 

Measurements. — Adults aver- 
age: Total length, 139; tail, 
67; hind foot, 18.5 milli- 

Distribution and habi- 
tat. — In distribution the 
Apache pocket mouse is 
mainly an Upper Sonoran 
desert plains species, occu- 
pying the higher levels of 
the Rio Grande and San 
Juan Valleys and the pla- 
teau country of northeast- 
ern Arizona. (Fig. 48.) 
Deming, in the edge of the 
Lower Sonoran Zone, is 
the southernmost locality 
from which the species is 
known. Hollister took 
specimens among the yel- 
low pines in the Gallina 
Mountains, but most of the 
known range of the species lies on the open plains from 5,000 to 
7,000 feet. 

General habits. — In December, 1889, the writer collected three 
specimens of the Apache pocket mouse on the sandy river bank near 
Deming. These were caught at one group of burrows in the mellow 
sand, and from the burrows their trails led away to the nearest 
patches of wild sunflowers and other seed-laden plants. They care- 
fully avoided the traps and refused to take rolled oats as bait, prob- 
ably because they could get an abundance of better food in the form 
of little dalea beans, wild sunflower, and other fallen seeds. In July 
of the same year the mice were caught in traps baited with rolled oats 
at San Pedro. Here they were living in the open park among scat- 

Figure 48. — Distribution of three little pocket 
mice in New Mexico: 1, Perognatlius apache 
apache; 2, P. apache melanotis; 3, P. merriami 
gilvus. Type locality circled 


tered junipers. In the sandy valley of the Chama Eiver near Abiquiu 
in October their burrows and tracks were common, but the mice 
persistently avoided the traps. As a last resort the writer dug one 
out and caught it in his hands. A little later near Espanola Gaut 
succeeded in catching a few in traps, and in June of the following 
year Surber collected three more there. In the river valley a few 
miles above the pueblo of Jemez early in September, their tracks and 
burrows were numerous, but even then the animals were not easily 
caught. One specimen that blundered into a trap had its cheek 
pouches well filled with the seeds of spurge (Croton texensis) and 
some seeds of a composite, probably tarweed (Grindelia). Near 
Laguna two were caught but were so badly eaten by insects that only 
the skulls were saved. At Wingate, in June, Hollister collected four 
specimens at little burrows under the bushes on the sandy plateaus 
of the Puerco Valley. The cheek pouches were nearly always filled 
with tiny seeds. In habits this species does not differ materially 
from the several other species of small, smooth-tailed pocket mice in 
New Mexico, and it is usually impossible to tell from the burrows or 
tracks which to expect in your traps. Like the others, it is mainly 
nocturnal and almost never seen alive except as forced out of its 

Apparently nothing is known of its breeding habits or of its eco- 
nomic status. 

Black-eaked Pocket Mouse 

Perognathus apache melanotis Osgood, North Amer. Fauna No. 18, p. 27, 
September 20, 1900. 

Type. — Collected at Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico, May 21, 1899, by 
E. A. Goldman. 

General characters. — A dark form of apache, with deeper yellow of the 
upper parts and with inner surface of the ears blackish instead of buff. 

Measurements. — Though the measurements are about the same as those of 
apache, the skull is conspicuously smaller with narrower mastoids. 

Distribution and habitat. — The type and only known specimen of 
melanotis at the time of its description was from Casas Grandes in 
northern Chihuahua. Specimens taken since at Gran Quivera, Pecos, 
Glorieta, Santa Fe, and at Stinking Spring Lake [Burford Lake] on 
the Jicarilla Indian Keservation, are so nearly identical with the type 
of melanotis that they can not well be referred to any other form. 
The range thus shown is illogical and can only be accounted for by 
predicating a much wider former range, at present unknown. (Fig. 
48.) All the localities represented are in the Upper Sonoran Zone 
and several of them at the extreme upper edge of the zone. A speci- 
men of apache from San Pedro, in the Sandia Mountains, shows a 
tendency toward melanotis in the dusky inner surface of the ears, but 
it is too young to show good skull characters. 

General habits. — Near the old pueblo of Pecos and at Glorieta, at 
respectively 6,800 and 7,200 feet altitude, these little mice were com- 
mon among the junipers and nut pines of the Upper Sonoran Zone. 
They were living in dry, sandy, or mellow soil in burrows among 
scattered weeds, under the edges of stones or along the cut banks of 


the creek. Their little burrows were numerous in favorite places, 
part of them standing open and others closed during the day. As 
usual, the closed burrows were the ones where earth was thrown out, 
and the open ones, those not in recent use, or else they were partly 
concealed back doors from which the animals, if disturbed, could 
easily make their escape. Similar burrows made by this species 
were found near Santa Fe, and one specimen was taken. Near 
Stinking Spring Lake [Burford Lake] the mice were fairly common 
and two were caught in traps close to camp. One of these was caught 
in the daytime by opening its burrow and setting a trap inside, for it 
soon came out to close the burrow. The one caught near Santa Fe in 
July had its cheek pouches full of seeds of ryegrass (Lollum per- 
enne). At Pecos the mice were eager for the rolled oats with which 
the traps were baited, and, during July and August, 17 specimens 
were collected. Four half-grown young were taken on August 26 
and larger young of the year on July 4 and August 25 and 26. 

In habits as well as distribution there is still much to be learned of 
this interesting little animal. 


Dutcher's Pocket Mouse 

Perognathus merriami gilvus Osgood, North Anier. Fauna No. 18, p. 22, 1900. 

Type. — Collected at Eddy (now Carlsbad), Eddy County, N. Mex., September 
18. 1892, by B. H. Dutcher. 

General characters. — This sleek, little yellow mouse, with white belly, short 
rounded ears, and short, smooth tail, is slightly larger than flavus, which it 
resembles, but it belongs to a distinct group, and occurs at the same localities 
with flavus. 

Measurements. — Total length, about 122 ; tail, 60 ; hind foot, 16.5 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — There are specimens of gilvus from the 
type locality, Carlsbad, from 40 miles west of Roswell in the Pecos 
Valley, and from 25 miles west of Tucumcari at the northernmost 
point of the Llano Estacado. (Fig. 48.) Most of the range of the 
species, however, lies in western Texas and is practically all within 
the Lower Sonoran Zone. At Carlsbad, Dutcher found these little 
pocket mice inhabiting the low stony mesas, and at Cedar Point, 
about 40 miles west of Roswell, the writer took one specimen on 
the open prairie. Near the northern end of the Staked Plains, 
about 25 miles west of Tucumcari, two were collected among the low 
mesquite bushes at the edge of the valley. 

General habits. — In habits gilvus is very similar to flamus with 
which it occurs at Carlsbad, but it is more often found on stony or 
hard ground than in the mellow sandy valley bottoms. Nothing is 
definitely known of its food and breeding habits. 

Kansas Pocket Mouse 
Perognathus paradoxus Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 1, p. 24, 1889. 

Type. — Collected at Banner, Largo County, Kansas, October 17, 1884, by A. 
B. Baker. 

General characters. — A large, stout pocket mouse with harsh fur and rather 
long but not bushy tail. The upperparts are grizzled buff with clear buffy 
stripes alone the sides, and the underparts are white. 

Measurement.— Adults measure: Total length, 222; tail, 108; hind foot, 
26.5 millimeters. 



[No. 53 

Distribution and Jwbitat. — The Kansas pocket mouse is a plains 
species covering the Pecos Valley and eastern New Mexico and 
occurring in the Tularosa, Rio Grande, and Gila Valleys. (Fig. 49.) 
Though most of its range lies in the Upper Sonoran Zone, it also 
comes into the edges of some Lower Sonoran valleys. Specimens 
have been taken at Las Vegas, near Roswell and Carlsbad, at Tula- 
rosa, near Mesilla Park, near Redrock, at Gila, and on Dry Creek 
betwen the Gila and San Francisco Rivers. They have also been 
taken just outside of New Mexico near the northeastern, southeast- 
ern, and southwestern extremities of the State. 

General habits. — Over a wide range of open plains country these 
pocket mice burrow in any convenient place without regard to shelter or 

cover. Often their smooth, 
round burrows go into the 
bare earth, where it would 
seem that the animals must 
inevitably be picked up by 
owls and nocturnal enemies 
as soon as they appear on 
the surface. Even in the 
desert valleys, where low 
shrubby vegetation is abun- 
dant, they make their bur- 
rows in the open more often 
than under the shrubbery. 
They are not even particu- 
lar about sandy soil, as 
their burrows are often 
found in firmly packed and 
rather hard soil formations. 
The burrows of this species 
are apparently left open 
during the daytime, and 
they usually go almost 
straight down instead of on 
the gradual slope, as with 
most species of the genus. Often it is difficult to locate the burrows 
or find where the animals run, but a long mark simulating a runway 
commonly attracts them and they will follow it for its full length 
or until caught by a trap. Though apparently a common species, 
not many specimens were taken, owing to the difficulty in finding 
where they live. 

Food habits.— Generally these mice are fond of rolled oats, which 
seems to be the most successful trap bait used. In the cheek pouches 
of specimens caught are found a great variety of seeds. Near Gila 
E. A. Goldman found those of Johnson grass {Holcus haiepemis) 
and wild morning-glory (Ipomoea) in the pockets of one. Wild 
sunflowers, parsnips, and other seeds have also been reported in their 
pockets. Of their breeding habits apparently nothing is known. 

Economic status.— -These pocket mice may have some economic 
importance, owing to their large size and their occupation of exten- 

Figfre 49. — Distribution of the Kansas pocket 
mouse, Perognathus hispidus paradoxus, in New 


sive areas of farming land. In grainfields they are said to carry off 
some of the grain, but this is not well authenticated and in any case 
would naturally be mainly the scattered and waste kernels. Some 
grass seed is undoubtedly destroyed on the range, but the destruction 
of weed seed would partially compensate this loss. Their burrows 
may in rare cases injure ditch banks, but the mice are not sufficiently 
abundant to be considered an important pest. 

Desert Brush-Tailed Pocket Mouse 

Perognathus (Clmetodipus) eremicus Mearns, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 10: 
300, 1898. 

r?/pe.— Collected at Fort Hancock, El Paso County, Tex., June 27, 1893, by 
E. A. Mearns. 

General characters. — So similar to intermedins in size, color, and general 
appearance that the two are often mistaken, but the skulls show the two species 
to be entirely distinct. P. eremicus is readily distinguished in the flesh, how- 
ever, by the pink instead of dusky soles of the hind feet. 

Measurements. — Adult specimens : Total length, about 176 ; tail, 98 ; hind foot, 
22 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The desert brush-tailed pocket mouse 
is a Lower Sonoran species extending into New Mexico from the 
south. It is common at El Paso and thence north to Garfield and 
Tularosa. It is probable that it occupies the southern part of the 
Pecos Valley in New Mexico, as it comes close to the line at Pecos and 
Monahans, Tex. To the westward it extends over the Deming Plain 
to Playas Valley. Unlike intermedium, which is mainly restricted to 
rocks and cliffs, eremicus occupies the sandy desert valleys, where 
bushes and small plants afford some protection. At Tularosa, Gaut 
collected a series of 31 and reported them as living in burrows under 
the creosote bushes in the valley. At Garfield, E. A. Goldman found 
them living along the edge of the sandy valley in burrows under the 
bushes. Near Deming he caught specimens at burrows under the 
weeds and bushes bordering the sink of the Mimbres, and at the 
Cienega Ranch in the Playas Valley he took them among bushes on 
sandy soil. The species probably has a considerably wider range in 
the State than these few localities show, as only the most expert 
trapping produces specimens. 

General habits. — In its occupation of mellow valley soils eremicus 
has a less restricted habitat than the rock-loving intermedins. The 
reason for this division of the ground between the two species is not 
entirely apparent, but it does not serve to keep them entirely apart, 
as specimens have been taken in the same traps at burrows near the 
cliffs. In habits the two may differ in some points, but the difference 
is not known. The closed burrows from which the sand has been 
thrown well out on one side are easily recognized, but little else is 
known of their habits. It is even doubtful if they are strictly noc- 
turnal, as they seem to be active in their dens during the daytime, 
and if a burrow is opened it is quickly closed from within. They 
may thus be caught at any time of day by setting traps inside the 
burrows and leaving them open. 

Food habits. — These pocket mice are usually eager for rolled oats 
and when caught often have their cheek pouches stuffed with those 


used as trap bait. At Garfield, in November, E. A. Goldman caught 
one with 92 seeds of mesquite in its pockets. At Tularosa, in Novem- 
ber, Gaut reported their cheek pouches containing mainly seeds of 
creosote bush and snakeweed (Gutierrezia) . These few notes, how- 
ever, do not indicate a limited menu, as many undetermined seeds are 
also found in their pockets. 

Breeding and economic status. — Of breeding habits apparently 
nothing is known. The economic status of the species is of little im- 
portance, owing to its scarcity and limited distribution in occupied 



Intermediate Pocket Mouse 

Perognathus intermedms Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 1, p. 18, 1889. 
Perof/nathus obscurus Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 1, p. 20, 1889. Type 
from near Hachita, N. Mex., collected April 30, 1886, by A. W. Anthony. 

y^r.— Collected at Mud Spring, Mohave County, Ariz., February 26, 1889, 
by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — This large pocket mouse has a long tufted tail and 
pointed ears, rather harsh buffy-gray fur and the lower parts clear salmon buff. 
From the very similar eremicus with which it is often associated it is conven- 
iently distinguished in the flesh by the dusky soles of the hind feet. From all 
the smaller species occurring in New Mexico it is distinguished by the long and 
bushy tail. 

Measurements. — Total length, 1S5 ; tail, 102; hind foot, 22 millimeters. 

Distribution and habitat. — The pocket mouse mtermedius extends 
into southwestern New Mexico and up the Rio Grande Valley to 
Isleta. There are specimens from El Paso, from the San Andres 
Mountains, Lake Valley, Las Palomas, Socorro, Rio Puerco, Isleta, 
and from old Camp Apache and near the Hatchet Mountains in 
Grant County. The range of the species is entirely within the Lower 
Sonoran Zone, but as the animals are partial to rocks and cliffs they 
are most often found along canyons or at the foot of the mountains 
and edges of the valley. They do not occur in the open part of broad, 
mellow valleys, so the range is by no means continuous. In the Frank- 
lin and San Andres Mountains, Gaut collected specimens about the 
rocks and cliffs in canyons and foothills up to 4,800 feet altitude. 
Near Isleta, Hollister collected a fine series of specimens on the rocky 
hillsides. Near Hachita, E. A. Goldman collected specimens among 
the loose rocks and cliffs along the adjoining hills and in similar situ- 
ations in the foothills of the Big Hatchet Mountains. At Lake Val- 
ley, Las Palomas, and Socorro he also collected them in rocky 
situations along hillsides or cliffs. 

General habits. — The mice live in burrows of their own construc- 
tion and seem to prefer the mellowest sandy soil, but for greater 
protection they take special pains that these burrows shall enter 
the ground under some rock or between the narrow layers in cliffs. 
The burro ws a re small, inconspicuous, and often closed during the 
daytime, while tiny trails and lines of tracks lead away over the 
sandy ground to feeding places among the plants. The little ani- 
mals are easily caught in traps baited with rolled oats and set along 
these trails or where their tracks are found near the bases of the 
cliffs. They are nocturnal, and little is known of their habits save 
what is shown by the specimens taken from the trap lines in the 

North American Fauna No. 53, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey 


B8165 B7214 

A, Skin of jaguar ( Felis onca hernindesi) killed in the Datil Mountains in 1902 (photo by X. Hollister, 
1905); B, bobcat (Lynx rufus baikyi) in sagebrush near Antonita, Colo. 


Food habits. — The food of this as of other related species ap- 
parently consists mainly of seeds of small plants. They usually are 
eager for the rolled-oat trap bait, and are often found with their 
cheek pouches well stuffed with the crushed grains. At Isleta, Hol- 
lister reported the pouches of trapped specimens well filled with 
seeds of various weeds. 

Breeding habits. — Of their breeding habits practically nothing 
is known except that by midsummer the well-grown young are 
caught more frequently than adults. The number of young in a 
litter and the number of litters in a year are unknown except as 
may be judged from other related and better-known species. 

Order CARNIVORA : Flesh Eaters 

Family FELIDAE: Cats 
Jagtjae; El Tigre of Mexico 
Leopardus herncmdesii Gray, Zool. Soc. London Proc. 278 : 1857. 

Type locality. — Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. 

General characters. — Largest of the American cats and closely resembling 
the leopard in color and marking, but heavier and more powerful. 

Measurements. — A specimen collected near Center City, Tex., is reported to 
have measured in the flesh 6% feet from tip of nose to tip of tail ; 36 inches 
around chest ; 26 inches around head ; and 21 inches around the forearm ; and 
to have weighed 140 pounds. A skin belonging to Governor Otero measured from 
tip of nose to tip of tail, 7% feet ; tail, 27 inches ; width between tip of ears, 
11 inches ; spread across narrowest part of skin, 21 inches ; across front legs, 
5 feet. 24 

Distribution and habitat. — A few large spotted cats (pi. 16, A) 
have been found over southern New Mexico, where they seem to be 
native, although generally supposed to be wanderers from over the 
Mexican border. Probably the first record of jaguars for New 
Mexico was made by Coronado, in 1540, when on his way north to Zimi 
he reported both " tigres " and " ounces " among the mammals of that 
region, probably intending one name for the jaguar and the other 
for the cougar. (Whipple, et al., 1856, p. 110.) One was reported 
at Santa Fe in 1825 (Baird, 1859, p. 7), and in recent years a few 
have been killed and many reported in the southern part of the 
State. In 1855 (?) one was reported as seen by J. Weiss, of the 
Mexican boundary survey party, in Guadalupe Canyon in or near 
the southwest corner of New Mexico. (Baird, 1859, p. 7.) 

In May, 1900, Nat Straw, a hunter and trapper in the Mogollon 
Mountains, is reported to have trapped a jaguar near Grafton on 
Taylor Creek, Socorro County, N. Mex. He gave the length of this 
animal as 8 feet, 3 inches, but C. M. Barber, who saw the skin and 
made the report, did not say whether the measurement was taken 
from the skin or from the animal in the flesh. Barber (1902, p. 192) 
also reported several others that had been seen or killed in that 
region. In 1903 Governor Otero in his house at Santa Fe showed 
the writer a beautiful skin of a jaguar, which had been killed the 

24 Measurements of skins are very unsatisfactory, and it is greatly to be regretted that 
there are not on record more definite measurements and weights of these large cats. 


previous year in Otero County, made into a rug and presented to 
him. His brother, Page B. Otero, State game warden of New 
Mexico at that time, also reported a jaguar seen on Ute Creek in 
San Miguel County during the winter of 1902-03 and one seen in the 
region of Cow Springs a few miles southwest of Fulton during the 
summer of 1903. He had perfect confidence in these reports, as he 
knew the men who saw the animals. He said that jaguars also had 
been reported from the San Andres and Sacramento Mountains 
in previous years. In 1905 Hollister saw and photographed a skin 
that had been mounted as a rug and was in the possession of O. 
lieddeman, at Magdalena. The original skull was mounted in the 
skin and showed the animal to be an adult with well-worn teeth. 
Keddeman had purchased the skin from a Mr. Manning, whose wife 
poisoned the animal in the Datil Mountains in August, 1902. A little 
later, when in the Datil Mountains, Hollister visited Manning and 
obtained an account of the killing of the animal. Mrs. Manning 
had been in the habit of putting out poison to kill the predatory 
animals about their ranch, in the mountains 12 miles northwest of 
Datil, and among the victims of the poisoned baits was this jaguar, 
which had been killing stock on the ranch for some time. It had 
killed 17 calves near the house during a short period before it was 
secured. The ranch was located at about 9,000 feet altitude in the 
pine and spruce timber of this exceedingly rough range of moun- 
tains. At the time Hollister was there another jaguar was sup- 
posed to be at large in the general neighborhood. In 1908, while 
in the Animas Valley in extreme southwestern New Mexico, the 
ranchmen told the writer of a jaguar killed in 1903 in Clanton Creek 
Canyon about 6 miles west of the Gray ranch. It had killed a 
bull that had wandered back in the canyon and was shot while 
feeding on him. W. P. Burchfield told the circumstances of its 
capture and where the skin had been sent for mounting. E. A. 
Goldman also secured a record of one that had been killed by a 
hunter named Morris on the west slope of Sierra de los Caballos 
about 1904 or 1905. 

In Baird's report on the Mammals of the Mexican Boundary 
Survey (1859, pp. 7-8) there is a long and bloody account translated 
by Kennerly from Spanish records of a "tigre" that entered the 
Convent of San Francisco in Santa Fe, April 10, 1825, and without 
provocation attacked and killed four men before it was finally shot 
through a hole bored in the door of the sacristy. The narrative 
has an artificial sound throughout, and, even with the plausible 
explanation at the end that the animal had been driven by high 
water in the river to take refuge in the convent garden and had then 
entered an open door into the convent and made the attacks because 
it knew escape was impossible, the story sounds very improbable. 
Apparently there is no other record of the jaguar attacking human 
beings in either New Mexico or Texas, where a good many have 
been killed. One killed near Center City, Tex., in 1903 was treed 
at night by some boys and dogs, shot with a revolver, driven into 
some brush, surrounded by dogs and men, and, after it had killed 
one dog and one horse, finally killed ; but during all this time it did 
not attack any of the men even when surrounded in the dark. 
(Bailey, 1905, p. 165.) 





Rooky Mountain Cougar ; Mountain Lion ; Panther ; Tham-mena of the 

Taos Indians 

Fells hippolestes Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 11 : 219, 1897. 

Type. — Collected at head of Wind River, Wyo., November, 1892, by John 

General characters. — Largest of all the mountain lions and distinguished not 
only by its great size but also by its dark reddish-brown color and the relatively 
long and massive skull and narrow, elongated audital bullae. 

Measurements. — The type specimen, measured from a well-made skin, shows 
a total length of 2,600; tail, 930; and hind foot, 270 millimeters. A still 
larger male killed by Colonel Roosevelt, in Rio Blanco County, measured in 
the flesh 8 feet (2,440 millimeters) from tip of nose to tip of tail and weighed 
227 pounds. (Roosevelt, 1901, p. 435.) His largest female measured 6 feet 
9 inches (2,059 millimeters) 
and weighed 124 pounds. 

Distribution and habi- 
tat. — In the Biological 
Survey collection there is 
but one specimen from New 
Mexico that can be readily 
referred to hippolestes. 
This is the skull of a fine 
large male, picked up in the 
Jemez Mountains near 
camp on the head of Santa 
Clara Creek ; but the writer 
has seen several dark- 
brown skins from the Taos 
and Pecos River Mountains 
that were undoubtedly of 
this species. On the 
strength of this material he 
is referring all the notes 
from the mountains of 
northern New Mexico to 
hippolestes, and it is not 
improbable that some of 
the very large individuals recorded from the Sacramento Mountains 
might also be referred to this form. There is even some doubt as to 
whether those from the mesas and canyons of the San Juan River 
Valley may not prove to be nearer to aztecus than hippolestes. 
Much additional material is needed, however, before the ranges of 
the different forms can be satisfactorily determined. (Fig. 50.) 

Though these animals belong mainly to the forested mountains or 
rock-rimmed canyons and cliffs, they often wander considerable 
distances and have been recorded from localities well out on the 
plains and in the open valleys. Their distribution depends mainly 
upon the supply of game, and they are generally most abundant 
where the deer are plentiful. In times past they also fed extensively 
upon elk wherever they were available within their range. Probably 
the first record for New Mexico was by Coronado in 1540, when on 
his journey to Zuni he spoke of the " lions," among other animals. 

Figure 50. — Shaded area showing approximate 
distribution of the estimated 400 mountain 
lions in New Mexico in 1917, from map pre- 
pared by J. Stokley Ligon 


In 1903 they were common in the Pecos River Mountains, especially 
along the gulches and canyons on the roughest slopes of the head- 
waters of the Pecos, where their tracks were often seen. The follow- 
ing year they were found fairly common in the Taos and Culebra 
Mountains, where a few were killed every year. One was killed 
near camp at 9,400 feet altitude on the Costilla River in the latter 
part of August. In 1905 Hollister reported a few in the Mount 
Taylor Range north of Laguna and a few in the Zuni Mountains, and 
in 1909 E. A. Goldman again reported them in the Zuni Mountains 
and learned of one being killed a short time before he was there. 
In the San Juan Valley the ranchmen told the writer that they were 
common on the mesas and in the canyons, both north and south of the 
river, where they did considerable damage to stock. _ In 1910 officials 
of the Forest Service reported mountain lions as fairly abundant on 
the Carson National Forest and as still very common in the Jemez 
Mountains. In 1914 they reported 3 killed cm the Carson, 3 on the 
Pecos, and 2 in the Jemez National Forest ; in 1915, 4 on the Carson 
and 4 on the Santa Fe National Forests; and in 1916, 4 on the Carson 
and 7 on the Santa Fe National Forests. 

General habits. — Mountain lions, even where common, are rarely 
seen unless trapped or hunted with dogs. They are among the most 
cautious, secretive, and wary of the animals hunted by man, who is 
perhaps their only enemy worth considering. Their presence is 
generally made known by their tracks, which are often seen along the 
trails and sometimes close to camps where they come prowling at 
night. To a great extent they seem to be nocturnal, but when hunt- 
ing under the stimulus of hunger they are fully diurnal and appar- 
ently keep moving or watching for game until a good meal is secured. 

There is ample evidence both of their skill as hunters and also of 
their great strength. At the junction of Mora Creek with the Pecos 
River a Mexican, Christine Rivera, who lived there, showed the 
writer the gray winter skin of a large lion that he had caught 
during the preceding winter (1903) in a No. 6 bear trap. The lion 
had killed a full-grown horse in Willow Creek Canyon near there 
and was caught in the trap when it returned for a second meal of 
horse meat. The bear trap in which it was caught must have weighed 
at least 40 pounds, and the lion had carried it, together with a heavy 
green pole as a clog, a distance of about half a mile and had broken 
one of the springs of the trap in its struggles before being overtaken 
and shot. The great cats are said to kill many horses and colts 
and some cattle in this vicinity. At the pueblo of Taos, the same 
year, one of the Indians was tanning a very large skin of a mountain 
lion that he had killed a short time before in Lucero Creek Canyon 
back of the pueblo. This was probably one of the lions that earlier 
in the spring had killed and partly eaten one of the largest and 
strongest work horses belonging to the pueblo. Two other horses 
had come running into the pueblo with their necks severely bitten 
and torn and with long cuts and gashes down their sides, and when 
the Indians followed up the canyon whence the horses had come 
they found one that had been killed and partly eaten and buried 
under leaves, sticks, and earth. There were evidently two of the 
mountain lions that had attacked the horses, but they did not return 
to the carcass. 


Economic status. — As deer and other native game animals become 
scarce, the mountain lions turn their attention to domestic stock 
and seem especially to relish colts, but if these are not to be found 
they take horse meat of any kind. In spite of the bounty usually 
paid for their destruction and the efforts of stockmen and hunters, 
they have until recently held their own in the rougher parts of the 
country, but with the present organized effort it will not be long 
before they are sufficiently reduced in numbers to prevent any great 
losses. Any system of adequate game protection or the restocking 
of the mountain forests with elk and large game animals will make 
it imperative that the mountain lions be kept well under control. 

Mexican Cougar ; Mountain Lion ; Panther 

Felis hippolestes aztecus Merriam, Wash. Acad. Sci. Proc. 3 : 592, 1901. 

Type. — Collected at Colonia Garcia, Chihuahua, Mexico, October 17, 1899, 
by H. A. Cluff. 

General characters. — A large gray form of the group, but smaller than hip- 
polestes, with relatively shorter, wider skull and more rounded audital bullae. 

Measurements. — The type, an adult male, measured : Total length, 2,268 ; 
tail, 731 ; hind foot, 270 millimeters. An adult female topotype measured 
1,814, 630, and 230 millimeters respectively. 

Distribution and habitat. — A large series of specimens from the 
desert ranges of southern New Mexico are all referred to aztecus, 
of which they seem to be fairly typical. A skull of an old male 
from the Datil Mountains is rather large and heavy and shows evi- 
dent gradation toward hippolestes, but the writer is referring the 
specimens to aztecus, as an arbitrary division between the two forms 
seems necessary. (Fig. 50. ) 25 A series of 24 skulls from the Gila 
National Forest includes 10 adult males, 9 females, 2 half -grown 
individuals (unsexed), and 3 skulls of newly born kittens. These 
and the large series of mountain-lion skulls brought together by the 
trappers of predatory animals are especially important in the study 
of this rather difficult group. Mountain lions are or have been com- 
mon over practically all of New Mexico, but they are rapidly de- 
creasing in numbers and at present are rare or absent from most of 
the open plains country, but are still found in many of the rough 
or timbered mountain ranges, which afford them cover and game. 
In his report for May, 1917, J. S. Ligon estimates 84 killed during 
the year and 400 remaining alive, in New Mexico, distributed as 
shown on the accompanying map. (Fig. 50.) 

At the present time they are probably most common in the Mo- 
gollon Mountain region, and in the Animas, San Luis, and Sacra- 
mento Mountain Ranges, with a few scattered through some of the 
small desert ranges over the southern and western parts of the State. 
In 1899 they were reported common in and around the Capitan and 
White Mountains, and in 1900 one was seen near Cloudcroft while 
the writer was there. In 1902 the track of a large mountain lion was 
seen in the road near his camp on the head of Silver Springs Creek, 
10 miles north of Cloudcroft. In 1903, Gaut found cougars in the 

25 In the absence of specimens from more generally distributed localities over the 
State, the notes from the southern half of New Mexico are arbitrarily referred to 
aztecus, and those from the mountains of the northern part of the State to hippolestes. 


Capitan Mountains and learned of one that was killed near Jarilla 
during the previous autumn. In 1902 he reported them as common 
about Corona and at Carrizozo and a few at Tularosa. In the San 
Andres Mountains he reported two seen only a few years previously 
in the range south of Salinas Peak, and a few seen near Bear Canyon 
in the middle part of the range. In the Manzano Mountains in 1903 
he reported them as scarce, but on December 8 he struck a fresh track 
of one in the snow and followed it for two days without being able 
to start the animal. In 1905, Hollister reported them as of regular 
occurrence through the Datil and Gallina Kanges, where they were 
doing considerable damage to stock and were much complained of by 
the ranchmen. 

In 1906 the writer found them fairly common through the canyons 
and rough country on the head of the Mimbres, Sapello, and Diamond 
Creek region of the Gila National Forest and in the Tularosa Moun- 
tains north of the Mogollon peaks. Tracks were frequently seen, 
a good many lions had been recently killed in that region, and late in 
the fall the writer followed the tracks of one over the upper slopes 
of the Mogollon peaks. In 1908 in crossing this same region, he 
found that they were still rather numerous over the Gila and Datil 
National Forests. Hotchkiss showed him where he had caught two 
on Apache Peak at the head of Apache Creek the previous winter, 
and gave him their skulls for the Biological Survey collection. On 
the Negrito Creek the writer secured the skull of one recently caught 
there and saw the skin of another tacked on the barn of a Mr. 
Keener. There were said to be a few also in the San Francisco Moun- 
tains, where they were doing considerable damage to stock. Late in 
October of the same year E. A. Goldman found their tracks common 
in the snow in several places from 9,000 to 10,000 feet on the Mo- 
gollon peaks. He also reported them as occasionally found in the 
Burro Mountains, and tracks seen along the bottom of the canyon of 
the Gila 3 or 4 miles above Bedrock, and he was told that they also 
occurred in the hills north of Gila. The same year he reported them 
as occurring sparingly in the Florida Mountains and in the San Luis, 
Animas, and Cloverdale Mountains. At Hachita, on August 3, 1908, 
the writer saw two nearly full-grown young of the year, said to be 10 
months old. They had been caught in the Animas Mountains when 
young and were quite tame and of the light-gray aztecus type. A 
few days later he saw tracks of mountain lions high up in the can- 
yons of the Animas Mountains. In 1908 officials of the Forest Service 
reported for the preceding year 1 shot in the Magdalena National 
Forest ; 6 in the Lincoln National Forest ; 2 trapped on the San Mateo 
National Forest ; 6 killed during the previous year on the Sacramento 
National Forest; 3 killed on the Peloncillo National Forest; 6 killed 
on the southern division and 4 on the northern division of the Gila 
National Forest. In the autumn of 1909 E. A. Goldman reported a 
few in the Mimbres Mountains west of Kingston, and in the San 
Mateo Mountains near Monica Spring. In 1910 the Forest Service 
reported some damage each year to stock, particularly colts, by moun- 
tain lions, but stated that hunters had kept the numbers reduced. 
In 1915 they reported 3 killed on the Datil, 4 on the Alamo, and 1 on 
the Lincoln National Forests ; during 1916 the hunters of the Bureau 


of Biological Survey killed 9 in the Guadalupe Mountain region, 
and the Forest Service reported 3 killed in the Manzano, 1 on the 
Alamo-Lincoln, 8 on the Gila, and 25 on the Datil National Forests. 
This number does not represent all, but probably does represent a 
large part of those killed in New Mexico during the year. 

In 1917 the predatory-animal hunters in New Mexico killed 17 
mountain lions; in 1918, 14; in 1919, 41; in 1920, 63; and in 1921, 29. 
Most of these were killed in the Mogollon Mountain Region where a 
few still remain. 

General habits. — These big cats are hunters, and their prey is such 
species of deer, mountain sheep, and domestic stock as come within 
their reach. They are generally found where the deer are most 
numerous, and apparently deer are their favorite game. In the 
roughest, more inaccessible areas of mountain canyons and rim rock 
they find not only their prey but also secure retreats where they can 
live and breed with least disturbance. They are great wanderers 
and will cover long distances when hunting for food. In the Mo- 
gollon Mountains on the morning of October 23, 1906, the writer 
struck a fresh track in the snow at 10,000 feet altitude on the north 
side of the Mogollon peaks. It was so fresh that he followed it as 
rapidly as possible for several miles, confident of overtaking the 
animal soon or certainly in case it should capture a deer and stop 
to feed, but finally he gave it up, for the track turned across a deep 
canyon below the snow. The cat was not far ahead of him but was 
traveling steadily and was stepping just as far as the writer could 
step whether walking up hill or down. Evidently it was hunting 
deer, as there were abundant tracks in the snow and several of the 
deer had taken hasty flight. While following this track he found 
three places where the mountain lion had scratched up a little heap 
of earth and spruce needles from beneath the snow. At least two 
of these were evidently old scratching places that he had scented 
and was in the habit of visiting on his rounds. 

In the Manzano Mountains Gaut followed a track for two days, 
and estimated that the lion covered 30 miles without making a kill 
or stopping for any appreciable length of time, and as he then gave 
up the pursuit there was no telling how much farther it went before 
stopping. There is no knowledge of the actual distances they travel 
or the length of time they can go without food when necessary. In 
all this region where mountain lions are most common there seems 
to be no report of their having ever attacked any person, even when 
wounded or treed by dogs. In 1825, at the hot springs near the 
head of the Gila River, one came into the camp of a party of trap- 
pers at night and was shot in the midst of the camp, but apparently 
had no intention of making an attack. (Pattie, 1905, p. 88.) 

At that time they were evidently unaccustomed to firearms, but 
now they are one of the most wary and difficult animals to hunt, 
except by the use of dogs. Almost any good dog will chase one 
up a tree and keep it there until it can be shot. Though not easily 
trapped, sometimes by setting a trap at one of their fresh kills they 
may be caught on their return for a second meal. The scent baits 
that attract wolves and foxes seem to have no attraction for these 
cougars, either in the wild state or in captivity in zoological parks. 

64909°— 32 19 


Judging from their return to regular scratching places in the woods, 
it would seem possible to trap them by using for bait the urine and. 
scent of their own species, especially of the females. 

Food habits. — There are probably no more strictly carnivorous 
animals than these large cats, and most of their food seems to be 
of the larger game animals or domestic stock. It is probable that 
at times they catch rabbits and birds, but very little is known of 
their actual everyday habits. When venison and mountain sheep 
are not to be had they readily turn their attention to horses, cattle, 
and sheep, seeming to prefer colts among all domestic stock. 

Breeding habits. — Little is known of the breeding habits of these 
animals, but a litter of four kittens was taken by Hotchkiss on the 
head of Sapello Creek, April 9, 1908, and the skulls of three of these 
sent to the Biological Survey. They were very small, and none of 
the teeth had yet appeared, but no notes were furnished as to their 
condition or where found. Those seen in captivity at Hachita on 
August 3, 1908, were about half grown and were said to be then 10 
months old. 

Economic status. — These big cats are among the most destructive of 
predacious animals, not only to game but to a great variety of 
domestic animals. As the writer admired a beautiful large gray skin 
at the G. O. S. ranch in the Mogollon Mountains in 1906, Vick 
Culberson told him that just before the animal was shot it had killed 
a cow. At that time he said the cougars were becoming scarce in the 
mountains, although they had formerly been very abundant there and 
had done great damage to the livestock industry. A week later, on the 
head of the Mimbres, while trapping for wolves the writer saw the 
fresh tracks of a rather small mountain lion in a canyon below camp 
and one morning found it had dragged a 2-month-old calf, which it 
had recently killed, across the canyon and about a quarter of a mile 
up the steep slope and had partly covered it with sticks and earth. 
Hotchkiss, who was with him at the time, told him that he had 
previously found where one had dragged a full-grown cow and in 
another case a 2-year-old steer for a considerable distance. He also 
said that on Thanksgiving Day, 1897, while hunting at the head of 
Terry Canyon, he found a horse that had just been killed and buried 
in leaves and snow. On examining the horse he found that the 
heavy bell strap on its neck had been bitten nearly in two. He 
followed the tracks of the lion and toward night came upon it in the 
Mimbres Canyon and shot it while it was eating a calf that it had 
killed for supper. While following this track in the snow he said he 
had crossed the tracks of at least a dozen other lions, which had been 
hunting in the canyon. Some of the ranchmen in the country had 
given up trying to raise colts because lions were so numerous that they 
took practically all the increase. In October, 1890, he had helped 
Robert H. Bulwer, of Silver City, to put 70 brood mares and 40 saddle 
horses in the community pasture, a 40,000-acre tract partly inclosed by 
drift fences, near the headwaters of the Gila. The following May 
they found only 19 of the saddle horses, only a part of the mares, and 
no colts. The mountain lions had taken the rest, including all 
the colts. For the next 10 or 12 years a special effort was made by 
the ranchmen of the region to destroy the lions, and they were 
vigorously trapped and hunted with dogs until their numbers were 


greatly reduced. Around the Capitan Mountains, in 1899, the writer 
was told that they killed a good many sheep and calves and still 
more colts for the ranchmen located near the foothills. In the San 
Andres Mountains, in 1902, Gaut reported a few mountain lions, and 
the ranchmen of the vicinity complained of their killing some horses. 
In the Franklin Mountains, in 1903, just below the New Mexico line, 
he secured a skin of one that had been killed there and saw a mule that 
had been recently killed by another. The deep gashes in the neck of 
the mule he attributed to both teeth and claws. Many colts were 
being killed each year by the mountain lions in the Franklin Moun- 
tains. In the Datil Mountains, in 1905, Hollister reported the destruc- 
tion of many colts, but said that the ranchmen agreed that few calves 
were destroyed by mountain lions. In 1908 E. A. Goldman reported 
them as occasionally killing stock in the San Luis and Cloverdale 
Mountains, and in 1909 as killing some stock, mainly horses, on the 
range west of Rio Alamosa. In 1893 Townsend reported them as 
numerous in the Organ Mountains where he gave records of their 
having killed in one place five colts and numerous calves and sheep. 
(Townsend, 1893, p. 310.) 

Plateau Wild Cat ; Bobcat 

Lynx baileyi Merriam, North Amer. Fauna No. 3, p. 79, 1890. 

Type. — Collected at Moccasin Spring, Kanab Plateau, Ariz., December 28, 
1888, by Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — The examination of much more material than was 
available when the species was described shows the form to be a rather large 
bobcat, yellowish gray in winter and pale yellowish in summer. Although 
variable in markings, the upper parts are generally much spotted and often have 
one or two black stripes along the back with lateral bands over the shoulders, 
while the buffy throat and white belly are thickly marked with large black 
spots. The tail has, invariably, a white tip with black subterminal bar above 
and traces of several narrower bars back of this. The skull is short and wide 
with full-rounded audital bullae. 

Measurements. — The type, medium-sized female, measures : Total length, 745 ; 
tail, 132 ; and hind foot, 165 millimeters. A young adult male from the Hualpai 
Mountains, Ariz., measured 820, 175, and 170 millimeters, and two adult 
males from Blue River, Ariz., each measured 838, 152, and 178 millimeters, 
respectively. Weight of a rather small but fully adult female, collected at 
Fruitland by Clarence Birdseye, 20 pounds, and another at Embudo, collected 
by McClure Surber, 21 pounds. 

Distribution and habitat. — Bobcats (pi. 16, B) are common over 
practically every part of New Mexico, and specimens from all the 
southern and western parts of the State are referred to this form, 
while those of the higher mountains in the north and down to the 
Manzano and Sacramento Mountains are referred to the slightly 
larger uinta. Until the group is thoroughly studied the finer details 
of distribution can not be satisfactorily given, as the two forms blend 
into each other, and many of the specimens are intermediate in char- 
acters. The greater part of the range of baileyi is in the Upper 
Sonoran Zone, but zone limits are not strictly observed by these cats. 
They are also common in the Transition Zone, where the limited 
areas of the zone occur in the plateau region of Arizona and western 
New Mexico. They are also occasionally found in the Lower Sono- 
ran valleys. Their local distribution depends mainly upon two fac- 


tors, rough country and food supply. Though great wanderers and 
occasionally found in any of the open valleys, these cats are most 
abundant in the rough country, full of canyons, gulches, cliffs, and 
rocky slopes, and especially in the half -open juniper and nut-pine 
forests of the plateau country. Rocky situations, especially, appeal 
to them not only as furnishing dens and safe retreats but as yielding 
a rich harvest of the rodents and other small game on which they 
constantly prey. 

General habits. — These, like other cats, are largely nocturnal but 
are also perfectly adapted to daylight hunting, and in case of need 
they are often out looking for game during the brightest days. 
Normally however, they sleep during the day either in their rocky 
retreats or well hidden in thickets of brush or weeds or among old 
logs and tops of fallen trees. Occasionally one is frightened from 
its retreat and goes bounding away with almost rabbitlike motions, 
rather than with the smooth, soft running of the bushy-tailed 
animals, such as foxes and coyotes. Even at a distance they may 
be distinguished by their bobbing motion as they run. Though 
they show considerable speed for a short distance, they can not 
continue a long rapid flight. Usually they are quickly treed or run 
to cover by an ordinary dog and on good ground are easily overtaken 
by a man on horseback. Rabbitlike, they generally lie closely and 
depend on seclusion rather than flight. They are timid and even 
when caught in traps or closely cornered show little disposition 
to fight or defend themselves. If actually caught by a dog and 
forced to fight they do so with/both vigor and execution, often tearing 
and biting the dog severely, but they are lightly built and have not 
much strength or endurance. A dog of their own size will often 
kill one, while a large dog or two or three dogs will dispatch one with 
very little trouble. Those taken for specimens are usually in good 
condition and occasionally are covered with a layer of fat, indicating 
that they are good hunters and generally able to find an abundance 
of game. Like all the cats, they are active throughout the year and in 
winter put on a thick coat of long light fur in contrast with their 
summer coat, which is thin and harsh. 

Food habits. — The natural food of these cats is largely rabbits 
and other small rodents, including wood rats, kangaroo rats, pocket 
gophers, ground squirrels, chipmunks, and a great variety of mice 
and as many birds as they are able to catch. It is probable that their 
food also includes the young of many larger animals, such as deer, 
mountain sheep, and antelope, and in places they are very destructive 
to the smaller domestic stock, such as sheep and goats. 

Breeding habits. — Sets of 2, 3, and 4 embryos have been found in 
the females and the usual number of young is probably four, as 
with other closely related species. On August 3, 1908, at Hachita 
in southwestern New Mexico there were three sizes of young bobcats 
kept as pets at a store. One half-grown individual kept in a cage was 
very vicious, while a quarter-grown kitten running at large in the 
house was as gentle and playful as any domestic kitten. A third, 
about 2 weeks old, was too young to take much interest in life, but 
gave promise of being a gentle and interesting pet. 

Economic status. — In the San Juan Valley near camp at Fruit- 
land on October 26, 1908, Clarence Birdseye caught two bobcats, an 


adult female and a half-grown young, by setting the traps along 
trails in the brush on river bottoms and baiting them with pieces of 
rabbit. C. J. Collyer, on whose ranch the party was staying, had 
recently lost 11 fine large turkeys out of a flock of 12 that had been 
in the habit of roosting in the low trees back of his house, and it 
was not hard to imagine what had become of them. At Pleasanton, 
in October, 1908, E. A. Goldman secured the skull of a bobcat that 
had been recently killed at the ranch. This animal had been feed- 
ing regularly on chickens, and when finally captured it had just 
killed five full-grown hens which were scattered around on the 
ground and left uneaten. The chickens were killed during the day 
among weeds and bushes, which grew close to the farm buildings. 
At the Dalgar ranch, just below Joseph on the Tularosa River, the 
bobcats had been catching chickens for some time, and one day as 
the writer drove out of the gate a fine large bobcat came out of the 
weed patch near the barn and went bounding over the ridge into 
the juniper woods beyond. In the Organ Mountains in January, 
1903, Gaut reported bobcats numerous among the rocks of the moun- 
tain slopes, and a ranchman near Globe Spring told him that they 
came down to his ranch and caught his chickens and were especially 
troublesome in cold weather. In many places the bobcats kill so 
many of the lambs that certain rough areas are avoided by the sheep 
herders. In many cases they do not restrict themselves to lambs, 
but will kill any old sheep that is left unprotected, and some large 
individuals get in the habit of killing sheep and seem to prefer them 
to small game. The type of this species was caught by the side of 
a freshly killed and partly eaten full-grown sheep, which was still 
warm when found, and a trap set by the side of the sheep contained 
the bobcat the following morning. Constant care on the part of 
herders and dogs is necessary to protect the sheep from these cats 
as well as from coyotes. In spite of care the annual loss through their 
depredations is considerable. 

The loss in game animals is not easily determined, but undoubtedly 
amounts to a greater drain on the game resources of the country 
than is generally supposed. Among the ranchmen and residents of 
the country every effort is made to destroy the bobcats when possible, 
local bounties are generally paid for their scalps, and at the present 
time the Biological Survey hunters and trappers are carrying on 
control operations against them, together with other predatory ani- 
mals. During past years the officials of the Forest Service have 
made a special effort to catch and kill as many as possible, and in 
1908 reports were made by the supervisors of the number of bobcats 
killed on each of the national forests in New Mexico during the pre- 
vious year. The reports are incomplete and in many cases include 
those killed by others as well as officers of the Forest Service. 

Those reported to the Bureau of Biological Survey by the Forest 
Service as killed in 1908 are, by national forests, as follows : Sacra- 
mento, approximately 95; Guadalupe, 5; Lincoln, 98; Manzano, 30; 
Gila, 26; Magdalena, 1; San Mateo, 14; Mount Taylor, 2; total, 271. 
This number represents but a small part of those killed in the region, 
however, as large numbers are trapped for fur as well as for the 
bounty, and many are killed just for the protection of stock and 
poultry. They are easily trapped by using feathers or rabbit fur 


or rabbit meat for bait. They are much less suspicious than wolves 
and coyotes and usually will take bait readily if it is placed near the 
trails that they follow, where it can be plainly seen. During 1916 
the predatory-animal trappers of the Biological Survey killed 177 
bobcats in New Mexico, most of which were of this subspecies. 

Mountain Wild Cat; Pean-muse-ana of the Taos Indians 
Lynx uinta Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 15 : 71, 1902. 

Type. — Collected at Bridger Pass, Carbon County, Wyo., May 11, 1890, by 
Vernon Bailey. 

General characters. — Distinguished from oaileyi by its slightly larger size 
and relatively longer skull, slightly darker color with more conspicuous mark- 
ings, the yellowish summer coat of baileyi being slightly darker and more rusty 
in uinta. 

Measurements. — The type specimen, an adult male, measured: Total length, 
1,030; tail, 195; and hind foot, 200 millimeters; and weighed 31 pounds. 
An adult male from Conejos River near the Colorado-New Mexico line meas- 
ured 1,009, 203, and 196 millimeters, respectively, and weighed 29 pounds. 
One collected by Gaut in the Sacramento Mountains east of Tularosa measured 
980, 194, and 203 millimeters, respectively, and weighed 31 pounds. 

Distribution and habitat. — The New Mexico specimens of the large 
bobcat of the Rocky Mountain region are referred to uinta from 
Conejos River close to the Colorado-New Mexico line, and from 
La Jara Lake,, Dulce, Chama, Tres Piedras, Embudo>, Velarde, 
Cienega, Martinez, Halls Peak, Manzano Mountains, Capitan 
Mountains, and Sacramento Mountains. One skull from the Pecos 
Valley 35 miles north of Roswell suggests intergradation with 
texensis, but it is not sufficiently typical of that species to warrant 
its inclusion in the New Mexico list. Apparently this large Rocky 
Mountain bobcat extends southward in the higher mountains of 
northern New Mexico and along the Manzano and Sacramento chain 
of ranges between the Pecos and the Rio Grande Valleys. Over a 
large part of its range it is a Transition Zone species, but it also 
occupies the adjoining Upper Sonoran country. It is in a slight 
degree more of a forest animal than is bailey"?-, simply because more 
of the area that it occupies is covered with either open yellow-pine 
forest or juniper ? nut-pine, and scrub-oak forests of the foothill 
country. The animals are by no means restricted to forests, how- 
ever, and wander well into the open and occupy rocky cliffs and 
canyons wherever they occur far out into the plains. 

General habits. — In habits these cats do not differ materially from 
baileyi. Their homes are generally in rocky caverns, dense thickets, 
or forest windfalls. From these safe retreats the cats wander out 
over the surrounding country, as shown by their tracks, which are 
frequently seen in trails and sandy spots along creek margins and in 
the dust of caves and shelves of the cliffs and canyons. They are 
mainly night prowlers but are also found abroad hunting in the 
daytime, creeping through the weeds and bushes in quest of rabbits, 
prairie dogs, squirrels, and small game, or watching the sheep herds 
for an opportunity to pounce upon some strayed or lost member of 
the flock. Unless forced out of cover they are rarely seen. In the 
Gallinas Mountains of Rio Arriba County the writer almost stepped 
on one in the low brush at 10,400 feet while hunting rabbits on a 


fresh snow. The cat was evidently hunting rabbits also, and as the 
writer stepped into a patch of low bushes it bounded out from his 
very feet but disappeared so quickly into the next thicket that he 
had no time to get a bead on it. At the base of the Jicarilla Moun- 
tains, Gaut found their tracks common in the soft earth about the 
dens of the big Dipodomys spectabilis, for which they were evidently 
hunting. He trapped a number of these rats, and with the exception 
of one specimen they were all eaten in his traps by the bobcats. At 
the pueblo of Taos their fresh tracks were found on the trails up to 
9,500 feet, and in one place along the line of fresh cat tracks the 
stomach and intestines of a freshly eaten cottontail were seen. Half 
a dozen skins of bobcats hanging in the store at Taos were of this 
large, strongly marked species. One caught in a trap at Lake La 
Jara on the Jicarilla Indian Reservation had its stomach full of the 
mutton with which Gaut had baited his trap, but the lower intestines 
were also filled with rabbit fur from the previous meal. At Tres 
Piedras Gaut obtained a specimen of a fine old female that was 
brought to him by some boys who had killed it a short distance from 
there while it was carrying a prairie dog in its mouth, evidently to its 
young. In the Jemez Mountains the cat tracks were especially 
abundant along the canyons where the rock walls furnish the animals 
ideal homes and an abundance of wood rats and other small game 
for food. Along the canyon of Coyote Creek on the east slope of the 
Taos Mountains their tracks were unusually common along the basaltic 
cliffs, where the numerous cracks and crevices afforded large variety 
of choice homes for such cliff dwellers. The abundant excrement scat- 
tered along the rocky shelves showed mainly remains of rabbits and 
wood rats. In the Raton Range, A. H. Howell reported a few in 
Oak Canyon and one that was seen to steal a hen from the ranch a 
short time before he was there. In the Manzano Mountains, Gaut 
caught a series of specimens in traps from the foothills to the sum- 
mit of the range. A trap set within 50 yards of his camp at Box 
Spring caught several specimens. One caught October 24 on the east 
slope of the mountain at 8,000 feet showed signs of having recently 
eaten a small owl. One foot of the owl had been swallowed whole 
and served to identify the species. In the canyons near Santa Rosa 
a few cat tracks were seen in 1903, and near Cuervo the writer scared 
a large lynx out of the cliff and watched it run across the valley at a 
rapid pace, though with a very bobbing motion. Along the Pecos 
Valley above Roswell, Hollister reported them as fairly common in 
1902, and at Carlsbad in 1901 the writer found a few of their tracks 
along the river bottoms and in the mud around irrigated fields but 
did not secure any specimens to show what form of cat occurs in that 
vicinity. It is not improbable that the Texas species may occur along 
the valley bottom. Mr. Webster on the Vineyard stock ranch there 
reported that the previous year one of his men found a nest of young 
bobcats while mowing in the alfalfa field. The young were taken and 
kept for some time at the ranch. 

Charles Springer, chairman of the executive committee of the 
Council of National Defense, in a letter of January 6, 1919, to E. W. 
Nelson, then chief of the Bureau of Biological Survey, reported 177 
bobcats captured by one trapper on the Bartlett ranch in Colfax 


County during the preceding six months. These were probably all 
of this large species, as also was one reported in June, 1918, by J. S. 
Ligon in the Pecos Valley 50 miles north of Koswell, where a herder 
discovered it standing with its front feet on a ewe that it had just 

Economic status. — The wide distribution and the abundance of 
these large cats over much of the best stock country in the West 
make them a rather serious factor in the livestock industry, espe- 
cially with sheepmen. Though they undoubtedly have a certain 
value as a fur animal and locally serve as a check to the abundance 
of rodents, they are on the whole one of the most destructive of pred- 
atory animals. The extent of the damage they do in destroying 
young game animals is not easily estimated, but the tribute they lay 
on the sheep herds is second only to that of the coyote. Local boun- 
ties are usually paid for their destruction, and they are persistently 
hunted by ranchmen and almost every resident of the country. In 
spite of all efforts they hold their own surprisingly well and are not 
likely to be soon exterminated in any area well suited to their habits. 

Family CANIDAE: Wolves and Foxes 


Western Red Fox ; Cross Fox ; SaltPEen-e-ana of the Taos Indians 

Vulpes macr&ums Baird, Rept. Stanbury's Expedition to Great Salt Lake, 
p. 309, 1852. 

Type. — Collected in Wasatch Mountains, bordering Great Salt Lake, Utah^ 
in 1849 or 1850, by Captain Stansbury's expedition. 

General characters. — The western red, or cross, fox is the Rocky Mountain 
form of the group of red foxes, the relationships of which have not yet been 
thoroughly established. It is larger and yellower than the eastern red fox 
and more often of the dark-color variety known as the cross fox. In the 
light phase the general color is usually of a straw yellow, becoming slightly 
darker and more reddish over the shoulders, while the dark phase varies 
from a dusky band, along the back and another across the shoulders with 
the rest of the animal yellow, to the almost black but white-banded fur of 
the silver-gray and the entirely black, or melanistic, phase of the black fox. 
In all cases, however, the tip of the tail is strongly marked with white, and 
the feet and the back of the ears are black, even in the lightest color phase 
and in the young. 

Measurements. — The males are slightly larger than the females, one from 
Liberty, N. Mex., measuring: Total length, 1,080; tail, 422; hind foot, 175 
millimeters. A female from the Taos Mountains, measured 992, 388, and 173 
millimeters, respectively. 

Distribution and habitat. — Western red, or cross, foxes are fairly 
common throughout the higher mountains of northern New Mexico 
in the Canadian Zone, and in a few places they have been found 
in the lower valleys, even down to the Upper Sonoran Zone. They 
are fairly common throughout the Sangre de Cristo Range above 
10,000 feet altitude, where the writer found them around Pecos 
Baldy and in the higher mountains back of the pueblo of Taos. In 
the Pecos Mountains an old female was caught August 1, 1903, near 
a 11,000-foot camp, and they were frequently heard barking near 
camp in the evenings. Their tracks and burrows were often seen in 
these mountains and their pungent odor was frequently noticed 
along the trails. Their droppings, composed mainly of the hair of 


meadow mice and conies, were common on the top of Pecos Baldy 
at 12,600 feet, where they were in the habit of hunting over the bare 
peaks above timber line. Dyche found them common around the 
Truchas peaks in this southern end of the range in 1881. 

Farther north in the Taos Mountains in 1904 a den of these foxes 
was apparently located among the rocks at 12,400 feet on the west 
slope of Wheeler Peak well above timber line. The old fox was 
frequently seen here among the rocks and would sit on a large bowlder 
and bark at the writer and party as they were setting traps over 
the mountain side. Fresh tracks and droppings were also seen along 
the crest of the range up to 13,600 feet, and the strong characteristic 
fox odor could be noticed wherever they had been along the trails. 
Several skins seen at a miner's cabin near there were of the same 
light-yellow color as the fox seen on the rocks, and other skins that 
had been brought down into the valley were of the same character. 
Most of the droppings examined along the trails were composed 
largely of the fur of meadow mice, probably Microtus mordax, 
which were abundant over the high mountain slopes. At Twining, 
not far from there, the foxes were common about the garbage pile 
back of the mining camp at 10,000 feet altitude. During October, 
1903, McClure Surber reported as many as six seen at one time 
fighting over the garbage. 

In the Jemez Mountains west of the Rio Grande the strong odor 
of a fox was noticed near camp at 8,500 feet in the Canadian Zone 
near the head of Santa Clara Creek. No specimens were taken or 
seen, but it seems probable that the foxes in these upper valleys are 
of the red, or cross, group, as the odor is noticeably different from 
that of the gray foxes inhabiting the country lower down. While 
camped in the Mogollon Mountains near the head of Willow Creek 
at about 8,000 feet at the junction of the Transition and the Canadian 
Zones, the writer saw foxes pass along the canyon near camp on 
several nights. Besides their tracks they left a strong odor that 
was apparently of the cross fox. Their droppings noticed along 
the trail were composed mainly of mouse and pocket-gopher fur. 
In the San Juan Valley in northwestern New Mexico, Clarence 
Birdseye, in 1908, reported red foxes at Farmington, Fruitland, 
Liberty, and Shiprock and obtained from a trapper at Liberty a 
skin and skull and 11 extra skulls of foxes that had been trapped 
for fur near there. The trapper had caught 20 foxes during the 
previous season, and a trader at Shiprock told Birdseye that he had 
bought a very good silver-gray fox from a Navajo Indian for $50. 

There seem to be no records of black foxes for New Mexico, but 
they have been rejDorted from southern Colorado, where, however, 
they may have been only very dark silver grays. The light-yellow 
skins are the least valuable of any, but the dark cross-fox skins in 
good fur usually bring good prices. The number of these foxes 
caught in New Mexico is limited, owing to the restricted range of 
the species in the State, but much of the high mountain country is 
well adapted to fox farming and the artificial rearing of many other 
fur-bearing animals that require a cold climate. 

Food habits. — The droppings along the trails where these foxes 
hunt are usually composed of the hair and bones of meadow mice, 
pocket gophers, conies, and rabbits, but these by no means cover the 


range of species preyed upon. It is safe to assume that almost every 
small mammal and bird that can be procured serves as food, besides 
such berries and fruits as may be found. > 

Breeding habits.— A few records of four young in a litter indicate 
small families among these foxes, but the 6 mammae arranged in 
2 pairs of abdominal and 1 pair of pectoral suggest 4 as the minimum 
and 6 as the normal maximum number of young. 

New Mexico Desert Fox 
Vulpes macrotis neomexicanus Merriam, Biol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 15: 74, 1902. 

Type— Collected in San Andres Mountains, N. Mex. (about 50 miles north 
of El Paso, Tex.), April 4, 1899, by C. M. Barber. 

General characters. — Slightly larger than macrotis of the deserts farther west, 
but much smaller than the gray or red fox. Compared with the kit fox or 
swift of the Great Plains, it is distinguished by its much larger ears and slen- 
derer skull with large audital bullae. In color it is plain buffy gray with clear 
buff along the sides, middle of belly, and lower surface of tail, and white 
on throat and posterior part of belly. The tip of the tail is black. The orig- 
inal description of the species was based on a skull, and no measurements of 
typical specimens were then available. 

Measurements. — An adult male since collected near the type locality at 
Parker Lake on the east slope of the San Andres Mountains measures: Total 
length, 831; tail, 335; hind foot, 131 millimeters. A female from the San 
Augustine Plain measures 850, 325, and 140 millimeters, respectively. The 
oars in dried skins average about 70 millimeters from crown to tip. Two young 
adult males collected near Cliff, N. Mex., weighed 51/4 and 5y 2 pounds, respec- 

Distribution and habitat. — The little, large-eared desert foxes 
(pi. 17, A) are nowhere abundant, but seem to be generally distrib- 
uted in the Pecos Valley and westward through the more arid valleys 
of New Mexico in both the Lower and the Upper Sonoran Zones. 
Most of the localities where specimens have been taken are along the 
edge of the Upper Sonoran Zone, however, and apparently this is a 
slightly larger and higher ranging form of the Lower Sonoran 
macrotis farther west. Its range corresponds closely to that of the 
large kangaroo rat, Dipodomys spectabilis, in New Mexico, but does 
not extend into the mountains and probably not onto the plains east 
of the Pecos Valley. A specimen from Carlsbad in the Wright col- 
lection was sent to the Biological Survey for identification and 
proved to be typical neomexicanus. So far as known, this is its 
easternmost record. Other specimens in the collection are from the 
San Andres Mountains, Parker Lake, Tu]arosa, Loveless Lake (10 
miles north of Capitan Mountains), San Augustine Plains, Fay- 
wood, Cliff, and Cloverdale ranch in Animas Valley. The foxes have 
also been recorded from the south end of Animas Valley, Playas 
Valley, Deming, Jarilla, Engle, and Albuquerque. They have also 
been reported in the San Juan Valley near Fruitland and Shiprock, 
but no specimens from that region have been obtained to substan- 
tiate the reports. A little fox has also been reported from Santa 
Rosa, but more probably this may prove to be the plains swift, or kit, 

General habits. — These foxes generally occupy the open mesa 
country along the borders of the valleys, where they burrow into 

North American Fauna No. 53, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. Biological Survey PLATE 1 7 

B 12285 B8929 

A, New Mexico desert fox (Vuipes macrotis neomexkana) taken by E. A. Goldman on the 
San Augustine Plains in 1909; B, Arizona gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus scottii) on 
the rocky slopes of the Mimbres, 1906 


banks and the sides of ridges. They apparently hunt in the open and 
depend for protection on their extreme quickness and speed and the 
cover of such burrows as they are able to reach if hard pressed. 
Their motions are the consummation of grace and speed as they glide 
cautiously from place to place and dart with wonderful quickness 
across the mesas or from one concealing gulch to another. They are 
mainly nocturnal in habits and are not often seen during the day, 
unless one is accidentally discovered curled up in its bed near the den. 
Out in the open Jornado Valley a couple of miles west of the little 
town of Engle, the writer noticed not far from the roadside a furry 
ball near a low mound of earth. Its color blended perfectly with the 
desert soil, and the object would have been overlooked except for two 
sharp points that were conspicuously unearthlike. Keeping it in 
view until nearer, he became convinced that it was a little fox, but it 
did not move until he drew up the team a few rods from it, when the 
ball of fur quickly unrolled and the fox glided like a flash into the 
burrow near by. Near Cliff, a little town on the Gila River, while 
out setting traps toward sunset on the mesa top, the writer saw two of 
these foxes playing about their burrows evidently just waking up for 
their night of hunting. There were several large burrows close below 
the crest of the ridge that evidently constituted a breeding den, as 
there were signs of long occupation with well-worn trails and 
scattered remains of food. 

On the San Augustine Plains E. A. Goldman found a den of these 
foxes out in the open about 12 miles northwest of Monica Spring. 
There were two holes or entrances about 30 feet apart somewhat 
larger than prairie-dog burrows. In describing it he says : 

At about 5 o'clock in the evening while riding across the valley my attention 
was attracted by a fox sitting at the entrance of each burrow. They moved 
about restlessly, watching me intently meanwhile, and allowed me to approach 
on foot to within about 100 yards, when one suddenly disappeared and the other 
was shot as it ran across toward the other hole. 

Traps were set, and the following morning they held a fox at the 
entrance of each hole. At the southern end of the Animas Valley 
Goldman found another den of these foxes and saw one sitting at the 
entrance of its burrow near the international boundary line. This 
fox was shot and another trapped at a hole near by. 

At Albuquerque, in July, 1889, the writer saw a Mexican boy 
leading a fox by a string along the streets. A number of skins were 
also seen in the fur stores there, and they were said to be frequently 
brought in for sale. At that time they brought from 25 to 50 cents 
apiece. He also saw the track of a little fox, probably this species, 
on the mesa back of town. At Parker Lake in the Tularosa Valley, 
Gaut caught two of these foxes in traps baited with prairie dogs. 
Another specimen was secured at the edge of an alkaline arroyo 9 
miles south of Tularosa. Near Liberty, in the San Juan Valley, 
Clarence Birdseye was told by a trapper that these desert foxes were 
quite common in the open valley, and in the sand near Fruitland 
and Shiprock small tracks were noticed that may have been made by 
them, but no specimens were obtained. 

Food habits. — Very little is known of the actual food habits of this 
fox, but at a den near Cliff there were scattered bits and bones of jack 
rabbits, cottontails, and part of the skeleton of a bird that had served 


as food. The foxes are readily caught in traps baited with carcasses 
of prairie dogs, rabbits, or the small animals that have been skinned 
for specimens, but their regular fare undoubtedly includes most of 
the small nocturnal rodents of the region. The fact that their range 
corresponds so closely to that of the large kangaroo rat would suggest 
this as one of their favorite varieties of game. 

Breeding habits. — Judged from the dens where these foxes have 
been found at various seasons, the young are not only raised in the 
burrows but remain in them throughout the greater part of the year. 
The male apparently remains with the family and does its share in 
hunting and providing for the young. Apparently there is but one 
record indicating the number of young in a family — that of a set of 
four embryos noted in a female collected by Dutcher, February 8, 
1898, at Fort Grant, Ariz. 

Economic status. — The winter fur of these little foxes is soft and 
pretty but is of a pale color with no marked character of beauty. 
The skins are ranked of little value, and the scarcity of the animals 
renders them of slight importance as a fur-bearing species. Their 
scarcity also may be responsible for the absence of any complaints of 
mischief to poultry, and over most of their range they are not in a 
position to injure game to any great extent. In places they might 
serve as a check on the abundance of valley and scaled quail, but 
otherwise their food habits are largely of a beneficial nature. 

Kit Fox ; Swift 

[Canis] velox Say, Long's Expedition to the Rocky Mountains 1:487, 1823. 

Type locality. — South Platte River, Colo. 

General characters. — Resembles closely the New Mexico desert fox, but is 
readily distinguished by its much smaller ears, its pure-white belly, and by its 
relatively short heavy skull. In general color it has the same buffy-gray upper 
parts, bordered by a band of clear buff on the sides and neck and the black tip 
to the otherwise buffy tail. 

Measurements. — In dried skins the ears measure about 50 millimeters from 
crown to tip. 

Distribution and habitat. — So far as the writer can learn there is 
no specimen of the kit fox, or swift, available from New Mexico, but 
the species was reported to him at Santa Rosa as fairly common over 
the adjoining plains. There is, however, a chance that this may be 
the New Mexico desert fox, but the probabilities seem to be in favor 
of its being the swift of the Great Plains, which is commom in south- 
eastern Colorado and over the Staked Plains of northwestern Texas, 
and undoubtedly occupies the Upper Sonoran plains east of the Pecos 
Valley and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. 

General habits. — These little foxes live in burrows in the open 
plains country, usually selecting sidehills or the sunny slope of a bank 
in which to make their dens. They are mainly nocturnal, are 
wonderfully swift and graceful in their motions, but, unlike the red 
foxes, are so unsuspecting in their natures as to be readily caught in 
traps baited with the carcasses of mice or birds and are so unable to 
cope with the advanced civilization that they are rapidly disappearing 
from the face of the earth. 


Arizona Gray Fox ; Too-wha-tsu-le-ana of the Taos Indians 
Vrocyon virginianus scottii Meams, Bui. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 3 : 236, 1891. 

Type. — Collected in Pinal County (probably Oracle, at north base of Santa 
Catalina Mountains), Ariz., October 28, 1884, by W. E. D. Scott. 

General characters. — Slightly smaller than most of the red and cross foxes, 
with shorter, coarser fur. Further distinguished from the red foxes by the black 
tip of the tail and from both the red and the kit fox by the flattened or laterally 
compressed tail and the black stripe along its dorsal crest, as well as by pro- 
nounced skull characters. The clear gray back and orange-bordered sides and 
throat further distinguish this group from other foxes. 

Measurements. — Six adult males measured in the flesh show an average total 
length of 1,028; tail, 441; hind foot, 141 millimeters. The female is slightly 
smaller. Three females weighed 8, 9, and 12 pounds, respectively. 

Distribution and habitat. — The Arizona form of the gray fox 
(pi. 17, B) is generally distributed over the greater part of New 
Mexico and is most abundant in the Upper Sonoran Zone, to which it 
properly belongs. A few individuals are found here and there 
throughout the open yellow pine forest of the Transition Zone, and on 
some of the isolated and barren ranges of mountains they wander 
back and forth from the base to the summit. They are not usually 
found in the open nor in the Lower Sonoran valleys, except where 
neighboring canyons, cliffs, and rough country provide them with 
especially favorable homes and protection. Their greatest abundance 
is in the foothill region of nut pines and junipers, cliffs, canyons, and 
rocky gulches. Their occasional presence in higher and lower zones 
may be attributed largely to the natural wanderings of a predatory 

General habits. — These gray foxes, not having the fleetness of 
the plains foxes, closely associate themselves with cliffs and rocky 
or timbered country, where they can quickly take refuge among 
sheltering rocks or climb trees to escape from swifter foes. Their 
abundance depends largely on the character of the country. In 
such mountains as the Mogollon, Black, Sacramento, Guadalupe, 
Jemez, Zuni, and Chuska Ranges they find plenty of cliffs that 
furnish favorable cavities for dens and shelter and afford choice 
hunting grounds for their small prey. In these sections they are 
particularly numerous, often causing much inconvenience to the 
trapper by getting into his traps ahead of more desirable game, and 
also to the collector of small mammals by eating or carrying off a 
considerable part of his catch during the night. Their tracks and 
sign are seen along trails, in dusty places among the rocks and along 
the bases of cliffs, where they hunt and prowl at night. Under the 
cover of low brush and chaparral they often make well-worn trails 
along their re