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The bat is the only mammal in the world that flies. It is a misnomer that bats are blind, although they do rely heavily on a supersonic sound emitted from the mouth which reflects off of the surrounding landscape, much in the way sonar technology functions. This is how the bat ascertains its position as it flies. Bats are often found in caves or other dark areas where they roost during the day. Bats do their food-gathering at night and can be seen at dusk, swooping through air in search of flying insects.
The beaver is a large aquatic rodent with webbed hind feet and a large, flat tail. The beaver is attracted to streams and rivers where it builds shelters of mud and sticks. Through the use of sharp lower teeth, the beaver can fell a small tree by gnawing at its base. Although widespread in the first half of this century, populations have dwindled due to urbanization and a demand for their pelts. The largest concentration of beaver can now be found along the Rocky Mountain range, the coasts of Maine and the Pacific Northwest, as well as the Lake Superior area.
Although found more often in Canada, these wild mountain sheep have a considerable range, favoring the Rocky mountain region and sometimes traveling as far south as New Mexico. About the size of a deer, its body is much stouter, more suited for the rocky terrain and harsh climte of higher elevations. Notable features are the curved horns of the male, and the whitish fur on the haunches of both sexes.
A large animal characterized by a large hump on the back between the shoulder blades. The hump joins powerful muscles and ligaments which help to support the large head. The head is covered in dense shaggy fur ranging from brown to brown-black in color, and both males and females have short, curved horns. Although bison often seem to move slowly, they can reach speeds up to thirty-five miles an hour. Once thought to be in endless supply, these massive animals are now near extinct in the wild.
The bear is most closely related to the dog family, with its short but strong limbs. The black bear can weigh as much as 350 pounds and can readily be found in forested and mountainous regions of the United States. With a powerful jaw and long claws, these creatures are fierce fighters; however, bears are omnivores, subsisting quite readily on plants, insects and fish.
Named for its short tail, the bobcat is widespread from southern Canada to northern Mexico. Primarily nocturnal creatures, they subsist mostly on small game, such as rabbits and rodents. After birthing, the mother drives off her mate, but allows him to return after a while to help in gathering food.
Caribou are a member of the deer family but are unique in that both sexes have antlers. These majestic creatures generally weigh 200 to 350 pounds, although certain woodland species may weigh as much as 700 pounds. Inhabiting northern North America, caribou make a yearly migration from pasture to pasture with the changing seasons. They migrate in herds so large that they may number in the tens of thousands at certain times of the year. Their large hooves enable them to navigate through boggy tundra in the summer months, and over ice and snow in the winter. The primary diet of caribou is lichen. In the course of securing a small harem of females for mating, the male must compete with other males of the herd: two males charge at each other, locking antlers and digging into the earth with their hooves.
This wild dog is smaller than a wolf and generally grey in color. Found in varying regions throughout the United States, the coyote has proven to be quite adaptable. The coyote is a predator, and its diet consists mainly small mammals, although coyotes also eat insects and fruit when needed. Coyotes are shrewd, swift creatures and are seldom seen by man, though their eerie calls can be heard across open expanse -- particularly on moonlit nights.
Dall's sheep are usually pure white in color with large curved horns which spiral out toward the front, like a corkscrew. Most weigh about 200 pounds and are herbivores, feeding on a variety of grasses in mountain meadows. In the typical mating ritual of similar horned creatures, they ram each other with a thundering clash until the weaker of the two males backs down; the winner gets the female. The crash of horns can sometimes be heard as far as a mile away.
Called "Wapiti" by the Shawnee Indians, this giant member of the deer family roams the open wilderness of northern North America. A mature bull elk can weigh anywhere from 500 to 1,200 pounds. Though straw-colored, the elk's rear flank is marked by a large white patch of fur. With a large bugle-like cry, the males challenge each other for the rights of the female during mating season, by collecting small harems.
Weighing as much as 8,000 pounds, the elephant seal is about twenty feet in length. Though extremely agile in water, these lugubrious behemoths are slow on land. Their strange call is resonated through a chamber inside their large snout, which greatly resembles the trunk of an elephant.
A species of the greater dog family, the fox is small in size -- a little larger than the housecat -- with a long bushy tail, large ears and a pointed snout. It feeds on small mammals which it hunts, but also eats insects and fruit as needed. Fox range from red, yellowish, black to silver in color in temperate regions, and white in arctic regions. Most species of fox find a single mate and pair for life.
Weighing as much as 650 pounds, their average weight at 150 pounds, these seals are distinguished by having a dense layer of undercoat. Remarkable swimmers, the fur seal spends much of the time in the water hunting for food, and the rest congregating in mass on rocky outcroppings and small craggy islands. The fur seal is polygamous, with harems of 15-20 females kept by the dominant male.
The Grizzly is perhaps the only living predator that could attack and kill an adult bison unaided. They are powerful, solitary creatures, ranging the western United States to Canada and the coasts of Alaska. Grizzlies are particularly fond of salmon and, when the salmon swim upstream, they are quick enough to bite them out of the water.
Solitary hunters of deep forests, the lynx hunts at night for hares and smaller game such as squirrels and small birds. Its short body is covered in a thick coat, its oversized padded feet make it a swift and stealthy hunter. Found in coniferous forests and mountainous regions of the very northern United States, this cat ranges sometimes more than a hundred miles. Only during the mating season can the lynx be seen traveling in pairs.
The largest member of the squirrel family, this rodent habitat much of the northern hemisphere. They have long, thick fur and long claws for digging. The marmot is a burrowing animal, creating passageways with numerous entrances into the ground. The marmot is strictly an herbivore.
The marten is similar to the weasel, with its short legs, long body and long tail. The American marten habitates coniferous forests throughout North America. Primarily a predator, the marten feeds on a variety of small mammals.
The largest member of the deer family, this enormous creature can weigh as much as 1,800 pounds. The moose roams Alaska and Canada, as well as the Rocky Mountains and the northwestern United States; it is not a creature which herds, but moves solo across the lands. Thick antlers adorn the heads of the males. In autumn, mating occurs, and the male must win his female: two males charge at each other, locking antlers and digging into the earth with their hooves.
Standing no higher than three and a half feet, these creatures can weigh as much as five hundred pounds. They roam North America, from the Rockies westward, and are unusually intelligent creatures.
Well-liked because of their playful nature, these water creatures are excellent swimmers. The largest member of the weasel family, the otter weighs under 30 pounds with a long, slender body. A quick and agile swimmer, the otter has webbed feet and can propel himself through the water, using his tail as a scull. Carnivores, they feed mostly on fish, chasing them skillfully.
These nocturnal creatures hole themselves up during the day inside rock crevasses or small burrows. When attacked, they rush their foes backwards, with their quills erected. The quills are loosely attached to its hide and quickly become imbedded in the attacker's flesh. If not removed immediately, they work themselves deeper, and some animals have been found who have been hit with too many quills. Inhabiting wooded areas, the porcupine is a slow moving animal, with an excellent ability to climb.
A closed-turned pair of forked horns is the most distinctive feature of this grassland antelope. Its sandy colors blend with bands of white around the neck and a white underbelly. The fastest animal in the western hemisphere a herbivore, the pronghorn achieves 40 miles per hour and can leap 20 feet. In the late summer, the bucks fight for the does, gathering a harem of 15 or so.
Ranging large stretches of northern territories in Alaska and Canada, these pack animals work together to bring down large prey. In the United States, they can be found only in a few northernmost regions, including Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior, Michigan. The timber wolf eats afield and disgorges it upon return to the den, feeding the litter.
Numerous species of whale inhabit North American waters. These giant mammals make their way up and down the coastlines in yearly migration. Some species include: the Killer Whale, the Grey Whale, the Humpback and the Beluga. They are the majestic giants of the deep.
Herbivores, these deep forest creatures feed on grasses and twigs in mountain meadows. Like their relative cattle, deer have multi-chambered stomachs to aide digestion. These lithe and agile creatures can weigh thousands of pounds. Deer rub their antlers against the trees in order to polish them, and remove a skin that has formed on them during growth.