Mammal Guide

This guide initially displays all common mammals. Use the selectors below to view mammals of a particular shape, include rare mammals, or search for them by name.

Mammals are defined as warm-blooded vertebrates with hair or fur and sweat glands — in the females mammary glands, modified sweat glands, produce milk to nourish the young. Most mammals develop a placenta which enables the feeding of the fetus during gestation and give birth to live young. In addition, although most mammals walk on land, many have specific adaptations that allow them to swim, fly, leap between tree branches or even dig extensive tunnels. Many wild mammals are used for both food and fur. while other have been domesticated for their agricultural and scientific importance.

New Mexico ranks high for mammalian diversity in the states in the US and the Pajarito Plateau is home to many of these species. This guide describes all of the larger wildlife found in the area as well as the more common smaller animals with the most abundant being rodents. Local species range from carnivores like the mountain lion and bobcat to ruminants like elk and deer to to several varieties of bats.

Mammal References

Biota Information System of New Mexico
Bogen et al. 1998 Continued Studies of Bat Species of Concern in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico [PDF]
Frey et al. 2006 Checklist of New Mexico Mammals [PDF]
New Mexico Tech Mammalian Field Guide
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History North American Mammals
Threatened, Endangered and Sensitive Species Profile – Los Alamos Laboratory Lands [PDF]
Tyrell and Brack 1992 Survey for Bats in the Los Alamos National Environmental Research Park

Subject Area Experts (all guides)

Steve Cary (butterflies)
Beth Cortright (insects)
Terry Foxx (invasive plants)
Leslie Hansen (mammals)
Richard Hansen (fish, mammals)
Dorothy Hoard (butterflies, trees)
Chick Keller (flowers, herbarium)
Shari Kelley (geology)
Kirt Kempter (geology)
Garth Tietjen (reptiles)
David Yeamans (birds)

Web Development and Content Management

Pat Bacha
Jennifer Macke
Graham Mark
Akkana Peck


Please contact us for local nature questions and sightings. We welcome comments, corrections, and additions to our guides.

For more information about local nature, please visit our Nature Blog or subscribe to PEEC This Week.

Make selection

Common     Include rare


Search for mammals:

Showing 1 of 58 mammals.
Common Muskrat

Photo: J.N. Stuart

Common Muskrat

Photo: Akkana Peck

Common Muskrat

(Ondatra zibethicus, Castor zibethicus)

Family: Cricetidae (New World Rats and Mice, Voles, Hamsters, and Relatives)
Size: 16.1 - 24 in (41 - 61 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: fresh marshy land along waterways
Typical location: Fenton Lake, Rio Grande, Upper Valle Caldera, White Rock Canyon

The Common Muskrat is a medium-sized semi-aquatic rodent named for its scent which is particularly strong during the breeding season. The muskrat has a rudder-like tail that is flattened side-to-side, partially webbed feet and a thick coat that traps air for warm and buoyancy. During the 20th century muskrats were heavily trapped for their pelts and were even introduced into Europe as a fur source. Muskrats normally live in groups consisting of a male and female pair and their young. During the summer they usually live in a tunnel dug into the river bank with an entrance located underwater. During the winter, they build lodges constructed of aquatic plants built atop of piles of roots or mud in or along river banks. Muskrats are most active at dusk and dawn and fed primarily on aquatic vegetation but also eat some small aquatic animals.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution