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When visitors from other parts of the country come to The Ranch, they will probably be surprised to observe so few mammals during the day.  Mammals in the desert are primarily nocturnal, thereby avoiding the temperature extremes of the day.  They also tend to avoid windy nights, when the rustling of twigs and branches can hide the sounds of their predators.  If you want to observe our Chihuahuan Desert mammals, go out on a still night just after a summer rain and look around for a few hours (take a flashlight).

The first mammal a visitor will probably spot will be either Cattle grazing in the pasture surrounding The Ranch or a cute Ground Squirrel scampering across the county road.  At night, you may hear the Coyotes calling in the pasture and you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them.    

There are a number of other mammals that you may observe near The Ranch as described below for species previously known to occur in southern New Mexico.  If you spot a mammal that is not on our list or one that has not previously been reported as being from The Ranch, be sure to let John or Judy McCain (Lot 108 at The Ranch) know.  Try to get a photo for the Website if you can.  

Checklist of the Mammals of The Ranch




Order Marsupialia - Marsupials

Family Didelphidae - American Opossums

Didelphis virginiana - Virginia Opossum.   


Order Xenarthra - Anteaters, Sloths, & Armadillos

Family Dasypodidae - Armadillos

Dasypus novemcinctus - Nine-Banded Armadillo.

Order Insectivora - Insectivores

Family Soricidae - Shrews

Notiosorex crawfordi - Desert  or Gray Shrew.  

Order Chiroptera - Bats

There are about 900 species of bats known in the world today.  Fifteen (15) of the 25 species known from New Mexico live or lived (one now extinct) in the Carlsbad Caverns National Park and could possibly be observed at The Ranch.  Be sure to include a trip to Carlsbad Caverns just before dusk (about mid-May through October) to observe the bats leaving the cavern.  About 300,000 bats live in Carlsbad Caverns during the summer, far less than previously but still a large number.

Family Molossidae - Free-Tailed Bats

Tadarida brasiliensis mexicana - Mexican Fre-Tailed Bat

Tadarida constaninei - Constantine's Free-Tailed Bat.  Contantine's bat is now extinct but is listed to remind us of our effect on the ecosystem.

Tadarida femorosacca - Pocketed Free-Tailed Bat

Tadarida macrotis - Big Free-Tailed Bat

Family Vespertilionidae - Common Bats

Antrozous pallidus - Pallid Bat

Eptesicus fuscus - Big Brown Bat

Lasionycteris noctivagans - Silver-Haired Bat

Lasiurus borealis - Red Bat

Lasiurus cinereus - Hoary Bat

Myotis californicus - California Myotis

Myotis thysanodes - Fringed Myotis

Myotis velifer - Cave Myotis

Myotis volans - Long-Legged Myotis

Myotis yumanensis - Yuma Myotis

Order Primates - Primates

Family Hommidae - Apes, Humans

Homo sapiens - Humans.  This is the most common mammal observed at The Ranch.  John & Judy first spotted them in late August 2000 and decided to try living among them in Jane Woodall style.  Those found at The Ranch are said to be the most friendly of their migratory subspecies, Homo sapiens escapee.  You can safely mix freely in their activities and they are known to accept food readily!   Do not overfeed!

Homo sapiens escapee (male)

Homo sapiens escapee (female)

Order Carnivora - Carnivores

Family Canidae - Dogs, Foxes

Canis familiaris - Domestic Dog.  Dogs are best observed in the early morning or near dusk walking their masters around The Ranch, teaching them to follow their lead and to carry plastic bags.  They tend to enjoy testing human skin with their tongues and intimidating other members of their species.

Canis latrans - Coyote.  Coyotes are sometimes called the song dog due to their bark, howl, and series of yips.  They are frequently heard singing in the pasture near The Ranch.  Your pets should not be allowed outside your rig off a leash, particularly at night for Coyotes are very good hunters and they have little respect for our electric fence!   Our visitors, Frank & Ann Cartwright spotted a pair of Coyotes between The Ranch and the Lakewood Post Office during the day in May 2001.

Canis lupus - Gray Wolf.  

Urocyon cinereoargenteus - Gray Fox.

Vulpes velox - Kit or Swift Fox.

Vulpes vulpes - Red Fox.

Family Felidae - Cats

Felis catus - House Cat.  Bitsie, the House Cat that owns John & Judy McCain's trailer, is a very poor, bent-eared example of this species.  He howls when his desires are left unattended and is known to bite the hand that pets him!   

Felis concolor - Mountain Lion, Cougar, Catamount, Puma, or Panther.

Lynx rufus - Bobcat.  

Panthera onca - Jaguar.  

Family Mustelidae - Weasels, Skunks, Badgers, Ferrets

Conepatus mesoleucus - Common Hognose Skunk.

Mephitis mephitis - Striped Skunk.  Lucy Billings observed a pair of Striped Skunks hunting in Pearl Wedlund's (Lot 92) yard in late May 2001.  It is best not to approach a Skunk, particularly if he is standing on his front paws with his rear end aimed at you!  If sprayed by a Skunk, leave The Ranch immediately - Please!



Mustela frenata - Long-Tailed Weasel

Spilogale gracilis - Western Spotted Skunk.  

Taxidea taxus - American Badger.  Lucy Billings spotted a Badger digging on the side of the road down near the Lakewood Post Office.  She got this fantastic photo of him.

Family Procyonidae - Raccoons

Bassariscus astutus - Ringtail, Miner's or Civet Cat, Cacomistle.

Procyon lotor - Common Raccoon.

Order Perissodactyla - Odd-Toed Ungulates

Family Equidae - Horses

Equus asinus - Burro.

Equus caballus - Common or Feral Horse.

Order Artiodactyla - Even-Toed Ungulates

Family Antilocapridae - Pronghorn

Antilocapra americana - Pronghorn or American Antelope.  

Family Bovidae - Cattle, Antelopes

Bos taurus - Common Cattle.  Cattle roam the field surrounding The Ranch, held at bay by our electric fence.  

Family Cervidae - Deer

Odocoileus hemionus - Mule or Black-Tailed Deer.

Odocoileus virginianus - White-Tailed Deer.

Order Rodentia - Rodents

Family Castoridae - Beavers

Castor canadensis - American Beaver.

Family Geomyidae - Pocket Gophers

Cratogeomys castanops - Yellow-Faced Pocket Gopher.

Geomys knoxjonesi - Jones' Pocket Gopher.

Thomomys bottae - Botta's or Valley Pocket Gopher.

Family Erethizontidae - New World Porcupines

Erethizon dorsatum - Common Porcupine.

Family Heteromyidae - Pocket Mice, Kangaroo Rats

Chaetodipus hispidus - Hispid Pocket Mouse.

Chaetodipus nelsoni - Nelson's Pocket Mouse.

Chaetodipus penicillatus - Desert Pocket Mouse.

Dipodomys merriami - Merriam's Kangaroo Rat.

Dipodomys ordii - Ord's Kangaroo Rat.

Dipodomys spectabilis - Banner-Tailed Kangaroo Rat.

Perognathus flavescens - Plains Pocket Mouse.

Perognathus flavus - Silky Pocket Mouse.

Perognathus merriami - Merriam's Pocket Mouse.

Family Muridae - Rats, Mice, Gerbils

Mus musculis - House Mouse.

Neotoma albigula - White-Throated Woodrat.

Neotoma mexicana - Mexican Woodrat.

Neotoma micropus - Southern Plains Woodrat.

Ondatra zibethicus - Common Muskrat.

Onychomys leucogaster - Northern Grasshopper Mouse.

Onychomys torridus - Southern Grasshopper or Scorpion Mouse.

Peromyscus boylii - Bush Mouse.

Peromyscus crinitus - Canyon Mouse.

Peromyscus eremicus - Cactus Mouse.

Peromyscus leucopus - White-Footed or Wood Mouse.

Peromyscus maniculatus - Deer Mouse.

Peromyscus nasutus - Northern Rock Mouse.

Peromyscus pectoralis - White-Ankled Mouse.

Rattus norvegicus - Norway, Common, Sewer, Water, or Brown Rat.

Rattus rattus - Black, Roof, or Ship Rat.

Reithrodontomys megalotis - Western Harvest Mouse.

Reithrodontomys montanus - Plains Harvest Mouse.

Sigmodon hispidus - Hispid Cotton Rat.

Family Sciuridae - Squirrels, Marmots

Cynomys ludovicianus - Black Tailed Prairie Dog.


Spermophilus mexicanus - Mexican Ground Squirrel.

Spermophilus spilosoma - Spotted Ground Squirrel.

Spermophilus variegatus - Rock Squirrel.

Tamias dorsalis - Cliff Chipmunk.

Order Lagomorpha - Lagomorphs

Family Leporidae - Rabbits, Hares

Lepus californicus - Blacktail Jackrabbit.  John & Judy McCain spotted several Blacktail Jackrabbits along the northern perimeter of The Ranch during April and May 2001.  Jackrabbits are technically Hares and not Rabbits.  They are larger than the Cottontails and have long rear legs, long ears with black tips, and the top of the tail is black with the undersurface white.


Sylvilagus audubonii - Desert Cottontail.  Desert Cottontails were also seen by John & Judy at the same times they observed the Jackrabbits.  

Baby Cottontail (abt 5")


Alden, P., B. Cassie, P. Friederici, J. D. W. Kahl, P. Leary, A. Leventer, and W. B. Zomlefer.  1999.  National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Southwestern States.  Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

Findley, J. S., A. H. Harris, D. E Wilson, and C. Jones. 1975.  Mammals of New Mexico.  Univ. New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Geluso, K. N, J. S. Altenbach, and R. C. Kerbo.  1987.  Bats of Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  Carlsbad Caverns Nat. Hist. Assoc., Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Olin, G. 1988.  Mammals of the Southwest Desert.  Southwest Parks and Monuments Assoc.

Whitaker, J. O. 1996.  National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals.  Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

Barrbed Wire

SKP Co-op Retreat of New Mexico, Inc.
P.O. Box 109
Lakewood, New Mexico 88254
Phone 575-457-2303 & FAX 575-457-2100
email: skpranch@pvtn.net